Officials celebrate completion of ‘unique’ Railroad Avenue bridge project

RIDOT employs 'Bridge in a Backpack' method for first time in Burrillville


BURRILLVILLE – It’s a small bridge, but it’s important to residents in Harrisville, and Fire Chief Michael Gingell told officials from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation that the village is grateful for its recent replacement.

The Railroad Avenue Bridge reopened last month following a $3.6 million federally-funded construction project that utilized composite materials, allowing RIDOT to complete work seven months ahead of schedule.

“Some of us grew up right here in this village,” Gingell told a group of local residents and RIDOT officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new structure on Thursday, Dec. 13. “This is a big day for us in Harrisville. Many of us remember when this bridge was wooden.”

Harrisville Fire Chief Michael Gingell

The project to replace the structurally deficient bridge began in June and was completed last month using funds awarded to RIDOT from the Federal Highway Administration’s Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment Program. The department used a “Bridge-In-A-Backpack” system developed at the University of Maine and commercially offered by Advanced Infrastructure Technologies.

The bridge was built using corrosion resistant fiber reinforced polymer tubes in place of conventional steel rebar embedded in a concrete arch or concrete beams, RIDOT officials explained. Pre-cast concrete components also were used to expedite construction.

“It makes sense that we begin to introduce the products that we make here in Rhode Island into construction,” said said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti. “We are constantly looking to bring new methods and new technologies to bear to fix our ailing roads and bridges.”

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti

This is the first project in Rhode Island to use the Bridge-In-A-Backpack construction method. The use of components not only allows for rapid installation that shortens the duration of closures for construction, it also has the added benefit of extending the longevity of the bridge versus conventional construction materials.

“This is a special project for DOT,” said Alviti. “We’re getting things done faster and cheaper than we ever have before.”

Next year, RIDOT will use the same approach to replace the Barbs Hill Road Bridge in Coventry.

A crowd of local and RIDOT officials turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Construction was timed to coordinate with the Department of Environmental Management’s low-flow period in the Clear River, which passes underneath the bridge. Approximately 200 vehicles cross this bridge daily.

The Railroad Avenue Bridge project was made possible by RhodeWorks, RIDOT’s ongoing commitment to repair structurally deficient bridges and bring Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure into a state of good repair, promote economic development, and create jobs. Learn more at [].

Cutting the ribbon on the bridge from left are Town Councilor Amanda Gingell, Town Planner Raymond Goff, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Town Councilor Raymond Trinque, “Mayor of Railroad Avenue” Timmy Gingell and District 23 Sen. Jessica de la Cruz.
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