WOONSOCKET – The state Department of Transportation has begun preparing for the emergency repair of the Hamlet Avenue Bridge steel expansion joint near the intersection of Hamlet, Davison Street and Florence Drive.
The problem involving an upward movement of the metal teeth in the joint was discovered earlier this month by city Highway Superintendent Rick Lambert and reported to the department’s bridge inspection division. The expansion joint on the east side of the steel girder bridge has become misaligned in the past and resulted in repairs to make it passable to vehicles.
The latest change in the joint was identified as a more serious problem and prompted the DOT to close the two center lanes of traffic of the four-lane bridge at the east abutment where the deformation was most pronounced.
A temporary plate and paving material was installed during the closing of the area but the state said Thursday Aetna Bridge has been contracted to conduct a more extensive repair. Aetna Bridge engineers and DOT staff were at the bridge Thursday afternoon taking measurements of the bridge work area and also inspecting an area of the bridge abutment that will be repaired as well.
“Our contractor, Aetna Bridge, is fabricating steel components to fix a bridge joint on the Hamlet Avenue Bridge. We expect the temporary repair to be installed by mid October,” Rose Amoros, chief public affairs officer for the DOT, said of the work.
“At such time, we expect to lift all traffic restrictions from the bridge,” Amoros said.
The additional work by Aetna will involve installation of steel shoring under the bridge, Amoros said, which is “unrelated to the bridge joint work and will not affect traffic. That operation is expected to wrap up by the end of the year,” she said.
The DOT plans to advertise a bridge rehabilitation contract for the
Hamlet Avenue Bridge over the winter and that work would involve minor steel repair and rehabilitation of the bridge’s concrete abutments, she said.
“We expect the contractor to begin work in the spring and finish by late 2014,” Amoros said.
The Hamlet Avenue Bridge was built in 1959 and is one of just two of the city’s more than a dozen bridges owned by the state. The state also owns the bridge on Diamond Hill Road crossing the Peters River. Four of the city’s bridges constructed in the wake of the 1955 flood, River Street, Fairmount, Sayles Street and Singleton, have also been reported to be in a deteriorated condition with the Singleton Street bridge recently cited as a needing road bed repairs.
The Hamlet Avenue Bridge is traveled by approximately 20,000 vehicles a day and was also used in recent years by heavy construction vehicles while two large mill complexes on either side of Hamlet, the Lafayette Worsted and French Worsted mills were razed, and the city’s two new middle school buildings constructed on the Lafayette mill site.
The city has long talked about the need to paint and improve the rusting steel truss bridges it owns in the Fairmount, River and Singleton streets area but has never been able to secure funding to allow for the work.