Sakonnet River Bridge Demolition: What’s Next?

Portsmouth/Tiveron, R.I. (WPRI) – Channel closures related to the on-going demolition of the old Sakonnet River Bridge have been postponed by 3 weeks.

The restrictions were originally going to begin on October 23rd, but have been delayed until November 13.

The reason?

“Crews were able to remove more steel from the top of the bridge, instead of using a crane from the bottom,” RIDOT Spokesman Charles St. Martin tells me.

Martin says, “It’s an advantage to be able to do it this way.” He added that the project is still running on time.

With the channel closures postponed to later in the Fall, there will be less impact on boaters.

The bridge, which originally opened in 1956, allowed motorists to travel between Tiverton and Portsmouth on Route 24 for over 60 years.

Photo by John Villella, WPRI

It closed in 2012, when the new Sakonnet River Bridge opened to commuters.

DOT officials say channel restrictions are necessary in order to safely remove the rusty structure.

Channel Closed:
Monday – Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Channel Open:
Every Sunday

The restrictions will be underway for about a month, ending around the third week in December.

Those needing access to the channel during that time are urged to plan ahead.

Phase 1 of the demolition started in the Spring with a lot of preparations. “Crews started moving equipment and getting netting in place.”

Martin says, crews needed to set up netting to prevent migratory birds like the Peregrine Falcons from nesting as well as other marine species including turtles.

The demolition, which will be done in two phases, will not be an easy task. Phase one, involves removing nearly 6.2 million pounds of steel and 2,700 cubic yards of concrete stretching across 17 spans between the bridge’s piers. The bridge demolition may cause brief noise disruptions. “Construction is going to create a certain amount of noise,” said Martin.

The cost?

$15 million for phase 1 alone.

S&R Corporation of Lowell, Mass. will be doing the demolition work.

It’s unclear how long and how much the 2nd phase of the demolition will cost. During that phase, crews will remove “in-water and land-based substructure elements,” RIDOT said.

“Phase 2 will go out to bid once phase 1 is complete,” Martin said.

Officials are considering using explosives to demolish the substructure elements, similar to those used to demolish the Jamestown Bridge.

According to DOT officials, the project is currently running on budget.

Phase 1 is expected to be completed by the Summer of 2018.

Posted on October 30, 2017 in