PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Traffic during both the morning and evening commutes on I-195 West was backed up for miles Monday after new lane shifts were implemented over the Washington Bridge this past weekend.

The R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is asking drivers to prepare for delays as construction crews begin working on one of the most well-traveled and structurally deficient bridges in the state.

Starting at the Broadway interchange in East Providence, all four lanes have been narrowed and shifted to the right. The Taunton Avenue, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Warren Avenue on-ramps have been reduced to one lane apiece.

The stretch of highway is one of the busiest in the state, according to RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin, with the Washington Bridge carrying roughly 100,000 vehicles per day.

St. Martin said due to the bridge’s condition, RIDOT couldn’t delay the reconstruction any further, “or the state would be facing eventual shutdown of the entire bridge.”

“We know that this will present some inconvenience over the next four years while we are reconstructing the bridge, but we are endeavoring to create a traffic pattern that will cause the least amount of disruption to the public,” St. Martin said.

The lane shifts were first implemented Friday night, and St. Martin said RIDOT will continue to monitor the traffic and make adjustments as necessary.

St. Martin said Monday’s morning commute “was similar to a normal morning rush hour,” but traffic on Taunton Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway in East Providence was more congested than usual.

To alleviate some of that congestion, St. Martin said RIDOT is encouraging drivers to instead get on the highway further east, using the Pawtucket Avenue or Broadway on-ramps instead of the Taunton Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway on-ramps.

“We will make additional improvements to the work zone … including adding signs to make it clear that all four lanes, including the entrance ramp from Taunton Avenue, go through to I-95,” St. Martin said. “We encourage drivers to stay in their lane rather than crossing over lanes into other traffic. We will also be adding additional traffic delineators to keep the drivers entering from Taunton Avenue in their own lane and discourage congestion-causing crossovers.”

The $76 million project is expected to be completed by summer 2026. The goal is to not only renovate the bridge itself, but also add a new exit to Waterfront Drive in East Providence to support economic development, as well as an additional travel lane on the bridge to keep traffic flowing.

When all is said and done, RIDOT predicts the morning commute from the state line to the I-95 split will be reduced from 16 minutes to less than 10.