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DOT Pushes Sakonnet Bridge Opening To September

The state Department of Transportation delays the opening of the northbound lanes of the Sakonnet River Bridge to September.

Three months after surpassing its first timeline milestone, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is chasing a date for opening the Sakonnet River Bridge's northbound lanes.

According to Charles St. Martin, information and public relations specialist, a series of setbacks delayed construction and caused Cardi Corp. to miss its May deadline for transferring traffic to the new structure. The earliest the northbound lanes could open is now late September.

"When [Cardi Corporation] bid, they helped determine that milestone date as part of the competitive bidding process," said St. Martin. "The main focus was to get rid of the weight limit. That's why we placed an emphasis on getting the bridge to a point where it was serviceable as soon as possible."

Until traffic can be diverted to the new bridge, all vehicles in excess of 18 tons are being diverted from the failing structure, causing lengthy detours for trucks, buses and other large vehicles trying to pass through Aquidneck Island via Route 24.

According to St. Martin the construction contract calls for penalties for missed milestones, but first the DOT will need to determine who is at fault for the delays.

"We would need to asses that once they reach the goal when traffic is on the bridge," said St. Martin. "We then look back and assess what that it would be - it could be owner delay or contractor delay, so sometimes there is shared responsibility - percentages on them, or us. That determines what the penalty would be."

Humid, wet weather is the biggest problem for readying the northbound lanes for traffic right now. Waterproofing the bridge deck to seal it off from stress cracks must be done in a dry environment and August proved rainy and humid.

Cardi also lost several months in the summer of 2010 when bad concrete and in support piles and design flaws set construction back several months, according to St. Martin. Cardi corrected both problems.

The $163.7 million reconstruction project broke ground in April 2009 and despite the setbacks, the DOT said it is still generally on track. Construction isn't slated to be totally completed until May of 2013 and St. Martin said the contractor could make up time before then.

DOT will not give a date, but speculated the northbound lanes would open to traffic in late-September. The southbound lanes will open about two weeks to a month after.

After the project is completed, St. Martin said a separate contract would be awarded for the dismantling of the old bridge. While he said demolishing the structure with explosives due to its proximity to the new bridge was unlikely, he added that DOT had not determined how the bridge would be removed or the cost. 

Ownership of the bridge will be transferred to the state Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) after total project completion, at which time the RITBA will move to install tolls.

Tracey H August 23, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Fact is however long it takes them, they still have built an entire bridge in far less time than it's taking them to paint the Mt. Hope bridge.
Jim L August 28, 2012 at 01:14 PM
5 is now the number of bussiness that have told me they will close or move out of Newport County, yesterday it was a small clothing store the owner works there and has 2 employee's, to bad he lives in Somerset and can't afford to pay $48.00 dollars a week just to unlock the door
Jim L August 28, 2012 at 01:16 PM
But i did get 22 more businesses to take petitions, What we nee nows is cards and letters also to the guv and congress an senate, Jack Reed will always answer you and he could maybe stop this
Former Ports resident August 28, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Jim you should run for office - you seem to do more for the citizens than any of these politicians
Robert E August 28, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The state says they need the tolls to fund maintence on the new bridge but the money they gave Curt Schilling would have funded maintence for 37 years. It's not that the state does not have the money it's just that they don't want to spend it on us.
Ralph Mace September 03, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The state's oft-repeated assertion that the money is needed for maintenance of the bridge is patently false. The truth is that the money will, once again, be funneled to support the infrastructure around Providence. Isn't that the way that things work in RI. When Providence needs more money to fund a poorly run government, "rich" Newport County is the source of the funds.
townie September 13, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I wonder what times the "workers" work on this bridge. I have driven by at 3 and 330 recently and have seen no one working? Odd considering they are late on delivering. Is there a penalty for failing to meet the deadline? A reputable govt contract would have a penalty. I doubt there is b/c most contracters would be putting people out late, on weekends and holidays to meet that deadline.
Joe Sousa. September 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM
The contractor will most likely not be fined .The problems are fabricated to delay the opening . This gives the State time to get Federal approval for transfer . That's my conspiracy theory. Call or write your Federal Rep's and tell them to stop this. They have the ability to stop the transfer by petitioning the Federal Highway administration .
Robert E September 14, 2012 at 01:02 AM
You have seen no one working because the have not been working. They have not done any work on the sence thay anounced that there were cracks in the roadbed that they were gluing together. I don't think the glue worked because everything came to a grinding hault.
Jim L September 14, 2012 at 02:32 AM
It seems with the new materails used in the making of the bridge it will not need ANY maintaince for the first 10 years of it's life, with the take of tolls to be paid to RITBA to be about $25 million a year now, just where is the 250 million dolars going to go? and what will happen when people wake up and realize that the are paying a cover charge just to enter Newport county? i'll tell ya what!!! They just won't come, so bridge revenue falls off, gee do you think tolls will raise on locals to make up for lost money? The tolls on the Pell bridge were suppose to raise already, but they haven't have they, so while Piava Weed and our Reps sit on the hands and hope the petition just goes away the toll trolls just bleed more money to make sure that 80% of Newport county residents get treated like they are the 20% of tourist that use the old/new bridge, What did they all think we all woke up one morning and became STUPID? Can ever dam one of them, just put blocks on both ends of the pell bridge and let it rot, no need to paint it, no need for tolls, I'm sure all the gas tax paid on the island will cover the new bridge, lets see how many folks really use that bridge other than tourist and we get to can all the TPNBA workers and their benny's, Now thats a plan!!!
Portsmouth Senior Citizen September 15, 2012 at 05:33 PM
"The state Department of Transportation delays the opening of the northbound lanes of the Sakonnet River Bridge to September." I don't this so. Rumor has it that the NEW Bridge is settling and has major cracks on the roadway. In other words the NEW Sakonnet River Bridge is sinking. Bridge built on the wrong side – too much sand. Bridge should have been built on the other side. Big team coming to inspect. Heard the words “expansion bridge”. If this is all true, who will be responsible for the cost? How many more years will we be holding our breaths traveling over the existing Sakonnet Bridge? Is the existing bridge really safe to travel on? As one who travels over the existing bridge daily, is my life more in danger than ever before? RI taxpayers, we deserve to know the truth.
Jim L September 16, 2012 at 06:26 PM
There have been diver working on it, I was told a team of independent bridge inspectors dove there 3 days and now the contractors divers are working on it, would be nice to know the truth Either way the TOLLS are nothing but a job killing money grabbing rip off We can thank RI Dems upstate and local for this outright theivery of Every Newport county citizen, Even other residents of RI will have to pay to visit Newport County

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