Workers finishing final details on Pawtucket River Bridge

Workers finishing final details on Pawtucket River Bridge

Two big events planned this week to celebrate completion

PAWTUCKET - Workers this week are putting the very last finishing touches on the Pawtucket River Bridge and its surrounding infrastructure, meaning the new landmark will be ready for its double debut Thursday and Saturday.

Workers for S&R/Pihl, the contractor for the $81 million bridge project, were adding some final landscaping touches and clearing out overgrowth last week to make the bridge as picture-perfect as possible for its big debut.

They also finished laying pavement for a new ramp and fishing pier right under the bridge, a facility designed to enhance what is already a popular area for fishing. National Grid workers were also installing new streetlights on Taft Street and other surrounding roadways, all part of an effort to make this area one of the best-lit ones around.

Though the official lighting ceremony for the bridge isn't planned until Saturday, passersby last week got a good idea of what the new I-95 bridge span will look like at night, as the elaborate new low-voltage and long-life lighting system got some early tests.

The Pawtucket River Bridge project was finished on time thanks in part to the DOT's new incentive program that would have meant big fines for each day the contractor was late.

State and local officials are planning two big events to celebrate the conclusion of the three-year, $81 million bridge replacement project:

* This Thursday, Sept. 5, city officials and residents, members of the Pawtucket Bridge Design Committee, and representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation will hold a "completion and naming ceremony," including a speaking program and unveiling of the bridge sign with the new official name, "Pawtucket River Bridge."

The 2 p.m. event will be held on Taft Street, beneath the nearby Division Street Bridge.

Those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to Tracie Jones, community relations officer for the DOT, by calling 401-222-1362 or emailing tracie.jones@dot.ri.gov.

* This Saturday, Sept. 7, Pawtucket will host "First Light: Pawtucket River Bridge Lighting," a family-friendly block party and lighting ceremony, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The free event will include food, drink, entertainment, DJ music, and the first official lighting of the elaborate light system on the Pawtucket River Bridge.

The lights will go on at 7:30 p.m., with a countdown to start at 7 p.m.

The city's Chinese dragon boats will be available at the Festival Pier starting at 6 p.m. for members of the public to ride out onto the water.

Tickets for those who want to travel on the boats to see the lighting ceremony are $10, and available by calling the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council at 401-724-2200.

Food and drink, including beer, soft drinks and water, can be purchased at Doherty's Irish Pub, the caterer for the event.

For more visit www.tourblackstone.com .