NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Now that the Memorial Day weekend has wrapped up, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) says it’s resuming its repairs on the deck of the Newport Pell Bridge.
From Tuesday, May 30, until Thursday, June 29, the bridge will be cut down to one lane in each direction around the clock.
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The next phase, June 29 through September 18, will leave all lanes open because the work will be done underneath the bridge, by a barge on the river.
Once that is done, the bridge will return to single-lane travel in each direction around the clock Tuesday, September 19, through December 22.
“If you have to be somewhere, give yourself extra time,” said Eric Offenberg, the RITBA’s director of engineering. “We’re anticipating 20-minute delays if you’re going over in rush hour.”
In addition to reduced lanes, over-wide vehicles will be prohibited — no vehicles wider than 8′ 6″ — from May 15 through June 29, and September 18 through December 22.
Overweight vehicles, over 80,000 gross vehicle weight (GVW), will also be prohibited May 15 through December 22. That is expected to create an issue for at least one local business; the owner of the Newport Playhouse told Eyewitness News Tuesday the organization is worried bus tours may not be able to take the bridge because of the more cautious weight limit.
“The bridge is going to affect all of us around here,” said Jonathan Perry. “We have to be proactive and talk to our customers, let them know what’s going on.”
Perry did say there’s a silver lining, however, in that the off-ramp, once rebuilt, will put drivers right near his business.
“Instead of people wondering, ‘where is the Newport Playhouse?’ They’re going to know where we are,” he said.
The project marks the first series of major deck repairs done on the Pell Bridge since it was first constructed 50 years ago.