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“Chaos” hits RI streets as sudden Route 195 Washington Bridge closure affects commute

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The entire state of Rhode Island is experiencing “chaos” after the sudden Route 195 Washington Bridge closure earlier this week. 

A major issue was first noticed with the bridge on Friday, December 8th, when an unnamed engineer described only as “young” noticed an issue with the steel pins holding up the bridge while working on the reconstruction. 

By Monday afternoon, officials closed the westbound side of the bridge for safety reasons, causing issues for the 90,000 drivers who use the bridge each day, reported The Providence Journal.

“Those pins involved a much more detailed kind of construction that we estimate now is going to take on the order of three months,” DOT Director Peter Alviti said. “The failure is such that it could potentially be the cause of a catastrophic failure. So we’re having to act on that. We averted a major catastrophe here.”

“If one pin goes, it can have a compounding effect on the other rods and that is what happened in this case,” Alviti continued.

“It’s chaos,” said Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion Jr.  in a tweet. “People are cutting though every street in EP desperately trying to find a way to a Henderson [Bridge] approach. The main thoroughfares are parking lots … More than 1.5 hours and moved about 200 feet.”

The DOT is planning to build a temporary bypass that will direct two lanes of westbound Route 195 onto the eastbound side. That temporary crossing is expected to open within two weeks, but the repairs to fully reopen the westbound side of the bridge will take around three months. 

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of operation that we’re in right now,” Alviti said.

The bridge was already a part of a full reconstruction project that was expected to cost $78 million and be completed by the summer of 2026. Alviti says it is still too soon to tell how much extra the bridge repair will cost.

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