DOT: Conant Street bridge project done in a month

DOT: Conant Street bridge project done in a month

PAWTUCKET - It's been 24 years, so what's a few more weeks?

The Conant Street Bridge, a span that's been closed for nearly a quarter of a century, originally due to safety concerns, should finally reopen to traffic by the end of September, according to a representative for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, putting it on target for the timetable given two years ago when the project finally started.

DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros said a new concrete deck is now in place "but there are still several items to complete before the structure can be opened to traffic." Those items include installation of curbing, sidewalks, railings, utility supports beneath the bridge, and finally asphalt work, according to Amoros.

The $4.3 million replacement of the Conant Street Bridge will be worth every penny, say those in the city who remember the days before the bridge was shut down back in 1989. For the first time in decades, the new bridge will provide a shortcut between Fairlawn and the city's downtown area.

City and state officials finally broke ground on the new Conant Street Bridge back in the fall of 2011, two years after liability issues again put off the project.

The city-owned Conant Street railroad bridge was built in 1913 and carries Conant Street over Amtrak and Providence and Worcester Railroad tracks. The bridge, which is being constructed by Cardi Corporation, is expected to play a central role in bringing a future commuter rail station to the area of Mineral Spring Avenue, Barton Street and Weeden Street.

The new bridge, which is made of concrete and weathering steel, features two 13-foot travel lanes and a pair of five-foot sidewalks. The weathering steel allows for the new bridge to rust over so as not to require as much maintenance going forward.

The new bridge will have the capacity to carry trucks of all sizes and weights. It has a shelf life of between 75 and 100 years.