PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There are 18 bridges across Rhode Island that have a lower “sufficiency rating” than the Huntington Avenue Viaduct Bridge, which state officials have declared needs urgent and immediate repairs, a Target 12 review of state transportation data found.
During a press conference earlier this month, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced she ordered the R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to fast track plans for fixing the decaying Route 6/10 Connector bridges, particularly the Huntington Avenue Viaduct.
“This is a public safety issue,” Raimondo said during the news conference. “[The Huntington Bridge] now scores a 19 out of 100 on the sufficiency rating.”
Target 12 requested the sufficiency rating of all bridges statewide and found there were 19 spans – including the Huntington – that scored a 19 or below.
Among the worst:
- Central Bridge in Barrington, with a score of 5; this bridge is currently under construction.
- The infamous Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston, with a score of 3.5. Park Avenue was the center of controversy when it was closed for a short time in 2015 prior to a crucial vote for the RhodeWorks legislation.
- Division Street Bridge in East Greenwich received a 2.
- The heavily traveled Pawtuxet River North Bridge, which carries Route 37 West in Cranston near Route 95, also has a 2.
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said all bridges are on his agency’s radar screen and many have received temporary fixes to keep them safe until they can be permanently repaired or replaced.
That’s the case with the span carrying Route 37 over the Pawtuxet River in Cranston, and carries thousands of cars a day.
“That’ll be getting rebuilt in the same timeframe as the 6/10, so we did give it the same level of concern that we did the 6/10,” Alviti said. “The 6/10, understand, is a much, much bigger project so we need to get going right away.”
Any bridge that has a sufficiency rating of 50 points or below must be repaired or replaced. A Target 12 review of state data found 110 bridges receive a score of 50 or below.
A sufficiency rating is a complex algorithm that weighs a number of factors including how many vehicles use the bridge.
“The sufficiency rating formula uses four separate factors to obtain a numeric value which is indicative of a bridge’s sufficiency to remain in service,” RIDOT spokesperson Lisbeth Pettengill said in an email. “The four factors are: structural adequacy and safety (55%), serviceability and functional obsolescence (30%), essentiality for public use (15%) and special reductions (13%).”
Transportation officials say the bridges that received temporary fixes may score slightly higher if tested again.
“Some of them are so small or have so little traffic on them we can extend their life by doing temporary repairs at minimal cost,” Alviti said. “Keeping them safe by doing that until in the out years we’re able to capture them and actually repair them.”
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.