Dignitaries including Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the state’s congressional delegation will gather in Providence Monday for groundbreaking on the new Viaduct south replacement project. The viaduct is a nearly 1,300 foot bridge that carries Interstate 95 through downtown Providence.
The Providence viaduct, built nearly 50 years ago, is showing its age. Wooden boards line the underside of the deck to keep crumbling concrete from falling on cars below. And weight limits would have to be next, said state Transportation Department director Michael Lewis.
“Unlike the Pawtucket River Bridge that has had a truck detour in place for three years prior to our opening it to traffic last fall, there is no viable detour alternative for the Providence Viaduct. So it is absolutely critical that we replace the bridge in time that we don’t have to post the bridge and restrict loads on it,” said Lewis.
The groundbreaking marks the start of the replacement of the southbound Viaduct, a $70 million project. Attendees will cut a ribbon and sign their names to a ceremonial steel pile that will be used in one of the foundations of the new bridge.
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