A temporary fix for Manville Hill Road Bridge on the Cumberland/Lincoln line will take two months longer than expected, opening to most traffic at the end of April.
The bridge was closed in December when engineers noted steel and bridge beam deterioration that jeopardized motorists' safety, detouring traffic onto Rte. 99.
A detour route was set up using Rte. 99 to cross the Blackstone River. Motorists on the Lincoln side of the bridge follow a detour using Manville Hill Road, Route 126 (Old River Road) and Sayles Hill Road to reach Route 99. Motorists on the Cumberland side follow Manville Hill Road to Route 122 (Mendon Road) to Rte. 99. A detour map has been posted on the department’s website.
Bryan Lucier at the DOT said the repair work needed was more extensive than expected. "When we got in there we were looking at emergency repairs," Lucier said. But the deterioration was much worse than engineers had thought, extending work through April.
The damage to the bridge will need a full replacement, requiring the DOT to cancel the original contract for a permanent repair in the summer of 2013. Instead, the DOT will now have to contract a full bridge replacement, and start that the summer of 2014.
At the time of the inspection, the bridge was under a 10-ton weight limit. With the temporary repair accomplished, it will open with the same limit until the summer 2014 repairs are started. That project will close the bridge again for about six weeks, Lucier said.
Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D – Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) announced today she's in talks with DOT officials after learning the bridge will stay closed two months longer than thought.
“I’m very disappointed by RIDOT’s decision to keep the bridge closed for such a long period of time,” Representative Ackerman said. “This is going to be a huge inconvenience for Cumberland and Lincoln residents, causing a traffic fiasco every day during rush hour. I’m also really concerned about the businesses that depend on that bridge traffic to survive." She said two additional months of having the bridge closed would be devastating.
The state-owned Manville Hill Road Bridge crosses the Blackstone River, the Blackstone River Bikeway and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. The department estimates that the 58-year-old bridge carries about 4,300 vehicles per day.
“I understand the predicament that RIDOT is in, but I am going to stay on top of this situation and do all I can to make sure that this process moves as fast as possible,” Representative Ackerman said. She also pledged to keep people apprised of the DOT's progress.
Anyone with questions about the detour route or the bridge can contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at (401) 222-2450 during weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also follow RIDOT on Facebook or Twitter at @RIDOTNews.