Washington Bridge project moves to next phase, Gano Street exit closure, ahead of schedule

EAST PROVIDENCE – Drivers will soon face another lane shift and closure on the Washington Bridge portion of Interstate 195, though the project – which still has a few years to go – is concluding its current phase ahead of schedule.

The next phase of the $78 million Washington Bridge project begins on Saturday and will shut down the Gano Street exit, 1D, for approximately two months, the R.I. Department of Transportation announced earlier this week.

While the project isn’t set to conclude until 2026, the update included a kernel of relief for commuters: The current lane split, which went into place in May, will be removed three months ahead of schedule, which RIDOT says should ease some of the increased traffic typical for the new school year.

RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin attributed the early completion of the current phase to the work area being “slightly smaller than earlier phases, and the necessary rehabilitation work in this area was less extensive than other areas of the bridge we have worked on so far.

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“The extent of work we need to do is not immediately apparent until we remove the asphalt on top of the concrete deck,” he added.

The project, which broke ground in 2021 and will enter the fourth of five planned phases this weekend, “remains on time and on budget for completion in summer 2026,” St. Martin said.

More than 96,000 vehicles use the Washington Bridge each day, according to RIDOT, and as “one of the busiest sections of the Interstate highway in Rhode Island,” this stretch of I-195 is “the source of chronic congestion with backups often extending as far back as the Massachusetts state line, particularly during the morning rush hour.”

The completed upgrades will reduce the average time to drive from the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border to Interstate 95 from 16 minutes to 9.5 minutes, according to RIDOT.

The project will address structural deficiencies on the bridge’s westbound portion, RIDOT says, and improve other issues related to safety and chronic congestion. Improvements include widening the westbound portion of the highway, an additional lane and a new exit to Waterfront Drive in East Providence.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com. 

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