Pawtucket Avenue bridge work finished weeks ahead of schedule

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The new and improved Pawtucket Avenue bridge in East Providence reopened on Friday, just in time for a potentially record-setting weekend for travel.

AAA estimates 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday, making it the most traveled Fourth of July weekend ever.

The state Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has been doing its best to make sure roads are in the best possible shape to help ease some of the congestion. Plus, construction crews have been working around the clock to try and get projects to a stopping point before the holiday, or even better – finished.

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RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and other state officials on Friday celebrated the completion of the Pawtucket Avenue bridge replacement, which wrapped up about five weeks ahead of schedule.

“It may not seem like a lot, but when you consider we started with a highly compressed replacement schedule to begin with – of four months – it’s amazing,” Alviti said. “This is the kind of project that historically would take DOT a year or two to complete.”

The bridge, located between Warren and Grosvenor Avenues, is one of the most heavily traveled in the city, with approximately 23,000 vehicles crossing it each day.

“With the holiday coming up and the amount of travel it certainly makes this road available and people’s worries a lot less in traveling through here,” Alviti said.

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Alviti also urged drivers to hold off on celebrating until you’ve reached your destination.

“While our safe bridges and roads get you there safely, ultimately it’s the people behind the wheel who protect the lives not only of themselves and their family, but other people on the road by not driving impaired,” he said.

Rhode Island State Police announced they’ll be stepping up patrols all weekend and keeping a sharp eye out for drunk drivers. According to them, the Fourth of July is considered the deadliest day of the year for motorists nationwide, with more fatalities reported on that day than any other single day of the year.