Replacement Begins on 89-Year-Old Rhode Island Rail Bridge

Tue November 24, 2020 - Northeast Edition
Rhode Island Department of Transportation

In mid-November, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) began pre-construction activities for the $5.2 million replacement of the Union Village Railroad Bridge, which carries Great Road over the Providence & Worcester rail line between Lapre Road and Meadowbrook Drive in North Smithfield.

RIDOT also expects to soon begin demolition of the old bridge, pending finalization of permits with the freight rail operator and weather. Any traffic pattern changes will be announced well in advance.

The span will be replaced in phases. RIDOT will demolish and replace the west side of the bridge first, then shift traffic onto the newly built portion so it can demolish and replace the eastern side of the bridge.

The project is slated to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.

The Union Village Railroad Bridge is 89 years old and has been deemed to be structurally deficient. It carries 17,400 vehicles per day and is a popular route for travel to and from neighboring Woonsocket.

Tree trimming and utility work could result in the need for temporary daytime lane closures, so motorists should check for specific lane closure information at www.ridot.net/traveladvisories.

All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings and weather.

The Union Village Railroad Bridge Project was made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT's ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island's transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development and create jobs.

RhodeWorks was instituted due to the state ranking last in the nation in overall bridge condition. The RIDOT said approximately 22 percent of the 1,162 bridges in Rhode Island were structurally deficient prior to the initiative.

Its web page noted that Rhode Island is one of the only states in the Northeast that does not charge user fees to large commercial trucks, which, it said, is to blame for almost all vehicle-created road damage.

RhodeWorks' solution is to rebuild the state's crumbling roads and bridges by investing significant additional funding in transportation infrastructure by:

  • Charging a user fee on large commercial trucks only — not cars or smaller trucks,
  • Taking advantage of the additional funding in the FAST Act, which Congress passed in December 2015,
  • Fix more than 150 structurally deficient bridges in Rhode Island, including the Union Village Railroad structure, and make repairs to another 500 bridges to prevent them from becoming deficient.

Five years into the program, the state said the boost of revenue should allow it to have most of its bridges fixed by 2025.