By Lindsay Lorenz
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Just in time for Bike to Work Day on May 17, the R.I. Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen, announced Friday the establishment of a new bike route that preserves the connection between Providence and East Providence despite the Washington Bridge Bikeway closure.
“There are a lot of people that used the bikeway on the Washington Bridge to travel between home and work, or for leisure and exercise on a daily basis,” said Robert Billington, president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council. “Having a signed alternative route now keeps this connection active, and allows riders to more easily travel between East Providence and Providence, and the East Bay to the Blackstone Valley.”
According to RIDOT, the new signed bicycle route uses the Henderson Bridge and a new extension of Waterfront Drive in East Providence to keep bikers rolling. Although the Henderson Bridge has bicycle lanes and signage, previously, no formal route had been identified to connect the bridge to the East Bay Bike Path following the Washington Bridge closure in July 2012.
RIDOT closed the former bikeway on the bridge to rehabilitate the structure and to build a much wider bike path and linear park. When it opens next year, RIDOT says, it will feature a separate bikeway and walking path, scenic overlooks, park benches, flag poles, decorative lighting and landscaped planters. The project also calls for restoration of the historic, multi-arch granite façade of the Washington Bridge and two operator’s houses from which an original drawbridge was controlled.
The new linear park is known as the George Redman Linear Park, after the East Providence resident who was instrumental in making the East Bay Bike Path a reality 25 years ago. Redman died in August 2012.
Additional information, including links to route maps and Bike to Work Day events in Providence and Newport can be found on RIDOT’s website at www.dot.ri.gov/bikeri.