LINCOLN – Structural concerns over the Manville Hill Road Bridge have blocked off a major travel route between Lincoln and Cumberland — but hopefully not for long.
Bryan Lucier, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, said Thursday that plans are in the works to open the bridge as soon as next month, even if that is only a temporary solution to the bridge concerns.
“What we are doing is putting out an emergency contract to make repairs to the bridge,” Lucier said.
The short-term repair would involve the installation of a steel-girder support structure under the existing bridge’s I-beams that would restore it to a 10-ton load carrying rating, according to Lucier.
The bridge was closed to traffic from both the Cumberland and Lincoln sides of Manville Hill Road in early December by DOT Director Michael P. Lewis after DOT engineers found significant deterioration of the 233-foot-long bridge’s steel beams.
The 58-year-old structure supports an average of 4,300 vehicle crossings of the Blackstone River at Manville Hill Road per day.
The contract for the emergency repair has already been put out to bid. Lucier said selection of a contractor should follow shortly. The temporary work will involve the installation of supporting steelwork across the bridge’s abutments in a manner that will be determined by the successful bidder. Lucier said exact details of the temporary repair work will not be known until the contract has been awarded.
Following completion of the temporary repairs and the reopening of the bridge to traffic, Lucier said, the DOT would then seek bids for a permanent repair. A DOT consulting engineering firm is already considering options for that work, which likely would be conducted beginning in 2014. Depending on the solutions proposed, the DOT could choose to use prefabricated bridge components that would allow a new bridge to be installed in as little as six weeks, according to Lucier.
That plan might minimize the long-term impacts on both business owners and residents in the Manville Hill Road area.
“We understand the inconvenience the closing is causing and that is why we are trying to put the repairs out to contract as quickly as possible,” Lucier said.