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BURRILLVILLE - Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) officials joined town officials Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening and rapid construction of the Round Top Bridge in Harrisville.
The bridge, which carries Callahan School Street (Route 96) over the Clear River, was built ahead of schedule in just 41 days. The new span constructed entirely with pre-cast concrete components - the first time RIDOT has built a bridge this way, according to RIDOT Spokesman Charles St. Martin.
"With conventional cast-in-place construction, the bridge likely would have been out of service for up to two years, " St. Martin said.
Building bridges and repairing roads with as little interruption possible for motorists is one of Rhode Island Department of Transportation's (RIDOT) chief goals, St. Martin said, and to that end, the department is constantly reviewing its construction methods.
"RIDOT knows that bridge rehabilitation and replacement projects can be
very disruptive to communities," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said at Monday's ceremony. "We are very excited about accelerated bridge construction and intend
make greater use of it in the future."
In addition to using pre-cast concrete components, RIDOT placed a $3,000 per day incentive clause in its contract with Cardi Corporation, which helped further reduce the closure from an estimated 70 days to just 41 days. The original cost of the bridge was $1.2 million and Cardi earned an incentive of $87,000 for getting the structure open about one month earlier.
"Innovation is critical at this time of enormous resource constraints, increasing demand for services, aging infrastructure, and increasing maintenance costs," noted FHWA Rhode Island Administrator Peter W. Osborn, who also attended the event. "The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is commended for their proactive approach to implementing innovations, such as accelerated bridge construction technologies, through the use of pre-cast bridge elements and innovative contracting approaches. The Round Top Bridge will serve as an example for future bridge projects in Rhode Island."
The Round Top Bridge was built in 1938 and had deterioration of concrete and reinforcing steel. Due to its structurally deficiency, the bridge carried a 5-ton weight limit. This caused lengthy detours for trucks in the area and increased truck traffic on roads that normally do not carry much heavy traffic.
"We appreciate the quick manner in which RIDOT built this bridge," Burrillville Town Council President Nancy F. Binns said. "In a rural town like ours, closing a bridge for a long time really affects business and residents."
According to St. Martin, this accelerated construction method cannot be used in all instances, either due to the design or size of the bridge or whether it can be closed entirely to traffic or must remain partially open to traffic.
"RIDOT will be reviewing all its bridge projects to determine which ones may be appropriate for accelerated construction," he said.