PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The first true morning commute amid the 6/10 Interchange construction project meant traffic delays for some, though the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) mainly attributed that to rainy weather and at least four car crashes, including one rollover and another where a car lost a wheel on the highway.
“None of them were in the work zone,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said Tuesday. “None of them seem to be related at this point to the work zone set-ups.”
The Tuesday morning commute was a big test for the lane changes put in place over the weekend, since Monday was a holiday for many commuters. Alviti said they expected traffic delays to increase by a few minutes through the work zones.
“Overall, I think the work zones are working the way that they should,” Alviti said. He added that two different consultants were used to help make the traffic plan for the construction project.
According to traffic data from Tuesday’s rush hour provided to Eyewitness News by RIDOT, the longest traffic delay was on Route 6 Westbound during the 8 a.m. hour, when the drive from Atwood Avenue to the I-95 ramps took 18 minutes, compared to 9 minutes on an average day. RIDOT said there was a crash in that area at the time of the slowdown.
RIDOT kept the number of highway lanes the same but narrowed the lanes as they start work to replace seven structurally deficient bridges in the interchange. Lanes will continue shifting over as the bridges are built.
The Broadway exit off of Route 10 North is also closed, detouring traffic through Olneyville Square.
“I’m a bit concerned about the amount of traffic,” said Greg Stevens, the owner of hot wiener joint Olneyville New York System. “It’s like a hub, there are many roads that meet in the middle here in Olneyville Square, and it’s always been a traffic problem.”
He said adding more cars to the already busy hub could cause more congestion and potentially deter would-be customers from driving to the area. But he said he’s looking forward to the end result in a few years, when traffic is expected to be mitigated because of the redesign of the 6/10 Interchange.
Alviti said RIDOT also took steps to improve traffic in Olneyville by working with Providence to change the timing of the traffic lights, which he said hadn’t been looked at in years.
“Even with the increased traffic, because of the changes we’ve made to the traffic lights there we were able to improve the flow through the Olneyville area,” Alviti said.
He said drive times through Olneyville Square during the detour Tuesday morning were actually one or two minutes faster than before the traffic lights were changed.
Alviti said the full 6/10 Interchange project will end in 2023, and the redesign should provide smoother traffic flow along with brand new, safer bridges. To see the full plan and look at detour maps, visit the RIDOT website.