I-95 Bridge Project Delayed Over Problem With Supports

Tue January 31, 2012 - Northeast Edition

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) A Rhode Island transportation official on Jan. 10 said misaligned vertical supports discovered on the Pawtucket River Bridge that’s under construction are not a “big disruption” and that a fix should be completed quickly.

Department of Transportation Deputy Chief Engineer Frank Corrao said steel supports were being fabricated to correct misaligned supports that were found by state surveyors before Christmas. The steel supports were expected to be made and installed by mid January, Corrao said.

The contractor has begun dismantling portions of the bridge that runs over Interstate 95. In the worst case, a support was found to be 3 in. (7.6 cm) off its mark. There are 15 vertical supports on the 351-ft. (107 m) bridge that will serve as a service road for on-and-off ramps, said DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin III. He said it’s not known how many vertical supports need realignment.

The supports connect the arch of the bridge to the surface where vehicles will travel.

The contractor will pay for the fix, Corrao said. The work is being done by S&R Corp., of Lowell, Mass. and Pihl, Inc., of Copenhagen, Denmark. The $81 million project began in November 2010. Federal authorities are paying for 80 percent of the construction costs, St. Martin said.

Thomas Bentsen, an executive vice president at Pihl, said the contractor is investigating how the problem developed. He also said it’s unknown whether the planned fix will resolve the entire problem.

The bridge was to open to traffic this spring. But the project fell behind schedule even before state inspectors found the alignment problem. Trucks should still be able to resume using the bridge by the end of the year, Corrao said.