Section of busy East Providence roadway to close for long-awaited project

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A portion of one of the busiest roadways in East Providence and neighboring Seekonk, MA will soon be closed for at least a month as a project years in the making gets underway.

Starting on August 6, drivers should expect delays and additional traffic near the state border, where County Street approaches Warren and Waterman Avenues.

According to East Providence Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Steve Coutu, a pair of concrete box culverts will be installed under the roadway so that the area can better handle flooding from the Runnins River.

“We will be installing two concrete structures – three-foot-high by seven-foot-wide – two substantial structures that will effectively double the flow capacity past the river under the roadway,” Coutu explained.

Coutu said the current culvert is not wide enough to keep up with flooding during heavy storms. 

The long-awaited project will benefit a number of homes in the nearby State Street neighborhood, where flooding has been a known issue for more than 30 years.

“I have correspondence in my office dating back to the mid-1980’s on this project,” Coutu said.

“Even some of the minor storm events that we have, like a two- or three-inch rain event, you’ll still see the river back up and this culvert project will effectively eliminate or reduce that,” he added.

So why wait until now?

In November 2017, the city of East Providence obtained a $544,025 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, which Coutu said will cover about half of the million-dollar project.

Additionally, summertime construction was always in the plan, according to Coutu, since that’s when the river is at its lowest.

Lots of coordination went into getting the project underway.

Coutu says there was permitting with Rhode Island DEM, and the Town of Seekonk Conservation Commission.

Since work is being done on state roadways, Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Massachusetts Department of Transportation also had to  coordinate.

Plus, anytime work is done within waterways or rivers, approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is needed. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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