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Washington Bridge closure causing Providence to “fall apart” as semi trucks cut through city

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The Mayor of Providence says that the city’s roads are “falling apart” as tractor trailers cut through the city due to the Washington Bridge closure. 

The westbound side of the Washington Bridge in Rhode Island was suddenly shut down back in December due to a “critical failure” of several original bridge components. As the closure continues, traffic from Interstate 195 westbound is being detoured through East Providence, to the Henderson Bridge, then through Providence and back to the interstate. Now, months later, the city is still seeing tractor trailers cutting through the city at a rate that the streets were not designed to withstand. 

“One of the recent frustrations is why you still have 18 wheelers, tractor-trailers, who don’t need to be in Providence that are crossing through Providence and doing real harm to our city streets which is the ripple effect of this closure is impacting us every day,” Mayor Brett Smiley said to 10 WJAR.

“Our roads are falling apart,” he said. “The infrastructure was not built for interstate highway traffic to be running through local city roads.”

While Smiley cannot legally ban the trucks from the city streets, he is urging the state and federal officials who can to do so. 

Over the weekend, Gano Street was temporarily closed as the city made necessary repairs to a retaining wall. During the closure, Smiley says that the issue of trucks driving unnecessarily through the city was made even more obvious. 

“The Gano Street problem over the weekend, ratcheted that up a little bit and that’s when we asked that trucks unless they’re making a local delivery, not be allowed to travel through the detour route,” he said.

“If you’re an 18-wheeler that’s trying to get from Massachusetts to Connecticut, there is no reason for you to detour down Angell Street and down Gano Street. It is tearing our streets and caused us to have to do an emergency repair [last] weekend.”

As of Monday, February 5th, repairs of the Washington bridge are expected to take a “year or two,” according to Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt.

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