AASHTO Journal, 26 October 2012
A vital bridge that carries traffic over the Stillwater Viaduct in Smithfield re-opened to traffic Wednesday after being closed for necessary repairs by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. The project was completed five full weeks ahead of schedule.
The 80-year-old bridge was closed to traffic in March when RIDOT found that repairs were necessary. The bridge carries Route 116 (or Washington Highway) over the Stillwater Reservoir. The bridge is 450 feet long and includes 11 spans with concrete arches over the water.
RIDOT included a substantial amount of work in the $9.4 million project. The superstructure needed to be replaced and repairs were necessary on the sub-structure and the bridge’s concrete arches.
In order to get the project done as quickly as possible, RIDOT and its contractor, Northern Construction Services, used pre-cast components (a major component of the Every Day Counts initiative, aimed at speeding up project delivery) when they could. RIDOT also agreed to an incentive clause with its contractor, allowing for a $10,000 per day incentive for every day the project was completed ahead of schedule (with a maximum of 30 days). Another big help was the fact that RIDOT coordinated with the community and decided to close the bridge instead of keeping portions open to drivers, accelerating the project substantially. Keeping the bridge partially open would have added years to the completion date of the project.
All of these factors allowed RIDOT to open the bridge Wednesday, as opposed to the scheduled completion date of late November, allowing drivers to get back on the bridge that carries them to and from the surrounding communities.
“We thank all those involved, from the community for their cooperation in allowing us to close the bridge to the prime contractor and RIDOT staff assigned to this project, for their hard work in getting the bridge ready for traffic ahead of schedule,” said RIDOT Director Michael Lewis in a statement. “The Department will continue to pursue the use of accelerated bridge construction techniques to complete our projects as quickly as possible.”