Drivers see traffic delays in N.S. as work continues on Great Road, North Main Street


NORTH SMITHFIELD – A National Grid project to replace old gas pipes that saw drivers detoured around parts of North Main Street over the past two weeks is set to wrap up early next week.

But travelers hoping to see the Union Village Bridge replacement project come to a finish still have a long wait ahead.

Contractors from Smithfield-based AGI Construction have been at work digging trenches – and then re-patching the roadway – along North Main, since roughly the start of the November, with work moving rapidly. Residents of the area were reportedly notified of the upcoming work via mail and door hangers.

The work on North Main is expected to be completed on Tuesday, Nov. (), with crews set to move on to side streets in a new area of town. The company was contracted by National Grid to install new piping and will do a complete repaving of the busy road this spring.

“It’s kind of nice,” said Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski of the road repaving. “I just know it’s a tremendous value.”

But traffic delays on another busy street in town, it seems, have really only begun.

A bridge replacement project that saw Great Road reduced to one lane in May is expected to cause traffic delays through at least summer of 2022, according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. A system with a temporary light controlling alternating lanes will remain in place for at least seven months.

And although two-way traffic is expected to be restored next summer, the project itself won’t be complete until summer of the following year.

The $5.2 million bridge replacement project is being completed in phases, with work currently on the western side. The structure, which reportedly carries an average of 13,200 vehicles per day, is 89 years old and was deemed structurally deficient.

Travelers who have noticed that equipment situated on top of the structure hasn’t moved in recent days should not despair: according to RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin, construction continues, but in a less visible location.

“The project remains active. Most of the work now is being done underneath on the bridge’s abutments and retaining walls,” St. Martin said. “In the next week, there will be additional work on the top of the bridge.”

Once the first side is complete, traffic will shift onto the newly built portion, so the eastern side can be demolished and replaced, a move St. Martin said is expected before the end of this year.

“The traffic shift – which will use the same traffic pattern with the temporary signals – will move traffic onto the newly built western half of the bridge,” St. Martin said. “The project is on schedule.”

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