A new $6.4 million bridge, to be completed in less than a year, is currently underway on the Warwick/West Warwick town line. The Barton Corner Bridge project will have a minor impact on commuter traffic.
The new bridge is currently being put together (in two halves) on a parcel of land adjacent to the highway under the auspices of general contractor D'Ambra Construction of Warwick, R.I. Both major sections of the span will then be transported this fall and put in place over Interstate 95 near Exit 8, completing the federally backed project in just 11 months from its start at the end of 2013.
According to RIDOT, the Barton Corner Bridge carries four lanes of Interstate 95, plus two auxiliary lanes at a busy interchange with Route 2 on the Warwick/West Warwick line. It provides direct access to the New England Institute of Technology; another limited access highway called Route 4, which leads traffic to the oceanfront beauty of popular South County and one of Rhode Island's busiest retail corridors.
Using accelerated bridge construction techniques, the state is building two halves of the bridge on land adjacent to the overpass. This method enables crews to build the structure much faster compared with conventional construction methods. It also keeps traffic moving without significant detours.
“This bridge definitely ranked high within the bridges of the state to be replaced,” said Frank Corrao, deputy chief engineer of RIDOT. “It was structurally deficient, functionally obsolete.
The steel in the piers supporting it was deteriorating. If we waited any longer there was a higher possibility that we would have to post the bridges (with restrictions on weight of vehicles, etc.).”
D'Ambra has already added a steel shoring system to support the bridge without reducing carrying capacity. Large overhead trucks also have partially damaged main girders from underneath the structure. A number of sub-contractors are working under D'Ambra to fulfill landscaping and other jobs.
“D'Ambra will drive them into place using self-propelled modular transporters, the same devices used to move the $610 million IWAY signature arch bridge onto barges at the Quonset Business Park before they were floated up Narragansett Bay to Providence,” said Corrao.
Old and Busy
The Barton Corners Bridge was built in 1958 and last rehabilitated in 1976. It is 87 ft. (26.5 m) long and carries a staggering 72,000 daily vehicles across it. Construction of the two bridge segments is ongoing in laydown areas to the north and south of the existing bridge. Placement of structural steel is complete, and prep work is underway for building forms prior to pouring the concrete bridge decks.
“There are two ways we could have built this bridge,” said Corrao. “We could have used the conventional method, shifting traffic into limited lanes, replacing half the bridge, then shifting traffic again and building the second half, etc. In essence, with this method, you are building two bridges and are probably looking at a two-year duration to the project.
“With accelerated methods, you are creating two bridges, north and south, on a property that is in close proximity of the project. We have built temporary shoring towers off the road,” said Corrao. “This will have very little impact on daily traffic while construction is going on”
Corrao said the two halves of the bridge are being built on a scaffolding/staging tower — steel and concrete decks, parapet walls and related sections, which will then be transported to the site in a couple of months.
“The staging tower and its framework are heavier than mere scaffolding. It has to support the weight of the bridges being constructed with all of its components together. We'll get that done on the side of the road.”
RIDOT will then demolish the northbound side of the bridge first, according to Corrao. The northbound side will be removed, and then the entire bridge will be removed in just a 12-hour period over Route 2.
“We will demolish the bridge and open Route 2 up to traffic,” Corrao said.
Corrao said that the sequential replacement of the new bridge components is set for the end of August.
“So, we demolish the existing bridge, open up Route 2 to traffic, then we work on the end supports with pre-fabricated, pre-cast concrete to rebuild the abutments,” said Corrao. “We transport the new bridge into place using self-propelled modular transports [SPMT] from their temporary location to their permanent location. We complete the tie-ins and then open up the bridge to traffic.”
“One of the benefits of the accelerated bridge work, beyond delivering the work to the public quicker, is that it is safer for the community and safer for the workers,” said Corrao.
Work on Barton Corners began in the fall of 2013 with advance work on the bridge's walls and beams and fabricating new steel girders. New bridge assembly started in April on the staging area nearby with the goal of moving the new bridge segments into place in August.
Two lanes of travel in each direction will be maintained throughout the completion of the work.
“By the end of the year, we will have replaced the two full bridges,” said Corrao. “People are seeing two bridges on the side of the road and are asking questions. Well, here are some answers.”
“Basically, we are using a great new technique to minimize the disruption to the traveling public,” said Bob Smith, deputy chief engineer of design of RIDOT. “We have a lot of bridges to fix over the next few years. For some, we can use more strict techniques. But we can look at these new techniques when we have access off site to use them. We are finding that the public can handle a little traveling difficulty in the short term if we can minimize that difficulty in the long term.”
For more information, visit www.dot.ri.gov.