LINCOLN – Perhaps nobody is more elated with the re-opening of the Wilbur Road bridge, which spans over Route 146, than employees of the Lime Rock Fire Department.
Both the police and fire departments in town had received word from R.I. Department of Transportation officials on Wednesday morning that the bridge would be ready to take on traffic that afternoon.
“It's fantastic news,” offered Lime Rock Fire Chief Frank Sylvester on Thursday. “It cuts our response time in half. We used to have to get on Great Road, travel to Route 116 and then go to Route 146 South to get to any emergency occurring along Route 246 (Old Louisquisset Pike).
“It took an extra five or six minutes, and that's an awful lot of time when it comes to someone who's suffering a heart attack or had been in a serious car accident,” he added. “Thankfully, we got to every emergency in time, despite the bridge closure. It was a real hassle.”
According to DOT Office of Communications' Programming Services Officer Heidi Gudmundson, demolition of the old overpass began back on Aug. 26, 2010. The new span was designed by representatives of The Maguire Group, Inc. of Providence and Foxboro, while the contractor included employees of D'Ambra Construction Co., Inc. in Warwick.
Completion of the bridge – 140 feet long and about 40 feet wide – was scheduled for late July, “so it was right on schedule,” she stated. It's made of enforced concrete and black steal, the latter component coated with epoxy so the beams won't rust as quickly. It also is reinforced with an asphalt containing chemicals that will extend its life, and won't crack as easily.
Sylvester explained that he and other Lime Rock Fire District officials traveled to DOT headquarters on Capitol Hill and went over plans before construction began “to make it as convenient as possible to this department,” Sylvester stated. “They always let us know when they would shut down a lane in either direction on (Route) 146, so we could make the proper adjustments.”
Offered Lime Rock Fire Marshal Steve Tucker: “Most importantly, the fire apparatus response time to the northwest portion of our district is sliced dramatically because we now have the bridge access. It mainly pertains to the north section of Old Louisquisset Pike, Wilbur and Longmeadow roads, Cynthia Drive and Harris Avenue.
“That means we now have quicker access to the new Senior Center and the middle school, and also Davies Tech, (all) on Jenckes Hill Road,” he continued. “When it was under construction, we had to redirect our apparatus from Station 1 to Station 2 and vice versa regarding those areas. It also allows us a speedier way to get to Route 146 southbound via the short ramp.”
Tucker is thrilled by the completion because “I live on the other side of the bridge; I can get home quicker,” he smiled. “I know my wife is elated.”
Sylvester maintained that some residents had expressed concern that construction would eliminate the island on the Old Louisquisset Pike side of Wilbur Road.
“The DOT actually extended (the island); people were upset because it's been here for many, many years,” he said. “The short ramp to (Route) 146 South, that's been paved over as well. I know a lot of people who are going to be excited about this. It will shorten their commutes.”