‘Jenga’ bridge, street closing during replacement

East Shore Expressway bridge replacement

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — On a visit, Vice President Joe Biden dubbed it the “Lincoln Logs” bridge. Timber was stacked together to shore up the bridge connecting the East Shore Expressway to I-195 West in East Providence because its concrete had so severely deteriorated.

But others, who might nod to Pawtucket-based Hasbro, might compare it to a game of “Jenga,” where players remove one block at a time from a tower of stacked blocks — until it topples.

The real name is the McCormick Quarry Bridge, and as it goes over Warren Avenue, that street must be closed for about 80 hours to tear out the old bridge and slide in the new one that’s been built in a vacant lot right next to it, according to Peter Alviti of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. It’s the second of two parts; another part of the East Shore Expressway was replaced on September 13.

The closure starts this Friday at 9:00 p.m., and the new bridge should be reopened by 5 a.m. Tuesday, just in time for the morning rush hour. Only local traffic will be allowed on Warren Avenue between Pawtucket Avenue and Highland Avenue. Exit 8 off of I-195 will remain open, but traffic will only be able to turn right and go west on Warren.

RIDOT said Wednesday the project is on budget and on schedule, and will reach final completion next June.

“When Vice President Biden visited Rhode Island, he was shocked at the condition of this bridge and the ‘Lincoln Logs’ necessary to hold it up,” Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. Biden had been visiting to see the state’s RhodeWorks program at work. “Thanks to RhodeWorks, we’re not just replacing this deficient bridge, we’re removing a symbol of past inefficiencies in fixing our roads and bridges and delivering better results for Rhode Islanders,” said Raimondo.

Video cameras that update every few moments are also watching the process, at RIDOT’s website.

On the surface streets, drivers will be detoured to Waterman Avenue. On the East Shore Expressway northbound, drivers will be routed to the Route 114 Northbound exit toward the Wampanoag Trail, then onto Pawtucket Avenue and I-195.

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