BURRILLVILLE – A bridge that’s been under repair since April of 2021 is nearly complete and set to reopen by the end of December according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
Mohegan Bridge will reopen by the end of this month, according to RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
The bridge, a steel structure built in 1966, which carries Route 102 over the Branch River, was deemed structurally deficient and reduced to one lane in 2021, with northbound drivers notified to detour to two potential alternate routes: at East Avenue and at the Glendale Bypass.
But many motorists failed to adhere to detour signs, causing initial headaches for local law enforcement. In addition to driving right through barricades and up to the construction site, drivers were proceeding into the southbound lane, or following the breakdown lane in attempts to get over the closed bridge, according to police who spoke with NRI NOW last year.
Last December, RIDOT announced that the 226-foot bridge would close completely for a full year beginning in January, with motorists to follow detours along Douglas Turnpike, Victory Highway, and East Avenue. A major throughway between Burrillville and points north in North Smithfield and beyond, Route 102 was cut off for bridge repair at the intersection with Route 7 for southbound traffic, and just before Bella Restaurant for those traveling northbound.
This week, Col. Stephen Lynch said that there have been less problems for police since the shut down.
“We do not have patrols monitoring this project anymore once it shifted to a complete close down,” Lynch said, noting officers also have not had to respond to any accidents by the bridge.
The new traffic pattern has, however, led to delays for northern Rhode Island drivers, and the detour roads have been the scene of several accidents over the past year.
Prior to closure, Mohegan Bridge carried an estimated 15,200 vehicles per day.
Alviti has said the bridge will be finished in the next 30 days.
“We are hoping that the project stays on schedule to be completed at the end of December,” Lynch said. “It will be a great relief to all motorists traveling Route 102, and we are very much included in that relief. We just want to see safe travels for all motorists in this area. Hoping for a smooth and timely transition.”
The complete replacement project is set to include resurfacing of Route 102 at the bridge and its approaches, as well as the intersection with Route 7. New guardrail, signing, striping and drainage improvements are also expected to be fully installed by spring, according to RIDOT Spokesman Charles St. Martin.
“The contractor is working to reopen the bridge to two-way traffic by the end of this month, weather permitting,” said St. Martin. “The project is scheduled for final completion in spring 2023. Work left to do after opening the bridge would include paving, additional guardrail work and landscaping.”
Editor’s note: The above article has been edited from its original version to include input from RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin.