Changing Lanes

by David B. Freeman, P.E., Sr. Proj. Mgr.; Maguire Group, Inc., Providence, RI,
Mark Greenleaf, P.E., Bridge Dept. Mgr.; Maguire Group, Inc., Providence, RI,
William D. Warner, Pres.; William D. Warner Architects and Planners, Exeter, RI,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2002, Vol. 72, Issue 3, Pg. 64-69

Document Type: Feature article


The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) plans to relocate Interstate 195 in downtown Providence began as a safety improvement project but has since grown into an ambitious urban revitalization effort. The $450-million highway relocation will not only address safety and operational problems but also improve access to the city's riverfront and free 20 acres (8 ha) of prime downtown real estate. A 1.6 mi (2.6 km) stretch of I-195 will be moved about 2,000 ft (610 m) to the south to a more direct alignment that avoids the city center and provides a smooth eight-lane connection with I-95. The project includes 14 new bridges, a new interchange, 5 mi (8 km) of new city streets, and 4,100 ft (1,250 m) of new river walkways. Relocating the highway also provides an opportunity to implement elements of the city's waterfront revitalization plan and accommodate different modes of transportation. Since most of the construction will take place away from the existing interstate system, traffic will not be seriously disrupted. The centerpiece of the project is the 400 ft (122 m) long main span of the 1,250 ft (381 m) long Providence River Bridge, which carries I-195 across the river. It is a triple-barrel steel tied network arch with intersecting hangers, also known as a Nielson-Lohse bridge, which results in smaller bending moments in the arches and tie girders and much lower deflections. The construction challenges include utility relocation, maintaining interstate traffic, and preserving the integrity of the city's existing hurricane barrier. Upon completion, armored embankments and reinforced-concrete retaining walls integrated into the highway design will take over the functions of the hurricane barrier. The schedule calls for completion of the entire project by 2012.

Subject Headings: Project management | Highways and roads | Highway barriers | Arch bridges | Traffic management | Steel bridges | Rivers and streams

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