Officials Report Progress on I-195 Relocation Project

Wed September 07, 2005 - Northeast Edition

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) State transportation officials said progress is being made on the huge Interstate 195 relocation project, with a key contract involving the building of a new bridge approximately halfway completed.

The approximately $600-million project includes relocating I-195 to south of the Hurricane Barrier in Providence, building a new connection with Interstate 95 and constructing a new bridge over the Providence River.

It’s the largest and most complex project ever undertaken by the state Department of Transportation (DOT), and its aim is to produce a safer highway through added lanes and properly spaced ramps, according to a DOT progress report released in August.

The officials said the project is mostly on time and within estimated costs. An $84-million contract that includes the heart of the project, the new Providence River bridge and the new section of I-195 on Fox Point, is approximately half done, according to Edmund Parker, the DOT’s chief engineer.

Some aspects of work are clearly visible. Concrete supports for the ramps that will connect the two interstates are rising between the west side of the Providence River and I-95. Also, a collection of retaining walls, overpasses and other structures is going up on the east side of the river.

The heaviest construction activity is expected to come in 2006 and 2007, Parker said.

The relocated I-195 should be partially open to traffic in 2007, according to the progress report, and fully operational by 2009. The complete demolition and reconstruction of city streets should be completed by 2012.

Officials have run into some problems. The replacement of the overpass carrying Point Street across I-95 is behind schedule, complicating local traffic. Also, there’s been a dramatic increase in the price of steel, which caused the state to switch to cheaper conventional steel.

Crews also discovered industrial contamination in soil in some areas. The new highway will serve as a “cap” to seal in some of the contamination, Parker said, but some of the material was shipped to Michigan for disposal.