Park Avenue bridge shows signs of progress, remains closed

(Brian Yocono/WPRI)

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Although it has been 28 days since the Park Avenue Bridge unexpectedly closed and was said to be re-opened by Monday — it did not happen.

RIDOT ordered to close the bridge back on June 23 after Director Peter Alviti warned the governor in a letter that the bridge was “in imminent danger of collapse.”

Originally, RIDOT said they planned to open the bridge within 30 days, but workers for the Department of Transportation and police officers told Eyewitness News on Monday that the bridge would be re-opening.

But, instead it remains closed.

Despite all of this, progress has been made including a re-pavement on Monday. And the bridge is scheduled to re-open soon.

However the controversial closure hurt a handful of local businesses immediately following the decision to close the bridge.

“We actually hired a barber right before this happened and he’s not working here anymore because there is no walk-in business,” said Kenny Elderkin, a barber at Elite Barber Shop on Park Avenue.

Elderkin said that the shop has lost thousands of dollars, since foot traffic over the bridge gave them about 20 to 30 more customers per week.

Across the street, another business echoed a similar sentiment.

“From 80-percent of people coming in, probably to 10-20 percent coming in now by walk-bys,” said Patrick Shahen, owner of APB Vapes.

The closure of the bridge came without much notice — especially since it was inspected nine months prior. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung called for an investigation asking how the bridge was able to get so bad.

The governor’s office told us bridge inspectors found significant deterioration on the wooden deck that forced the closure.

Frustrated business owners and commuters alike now can only do two things — sit and wait.

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