The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) announced today that it will begin a significant structural rehabilitation project on the Newport Pell Bridge. As an iconic and vital asset to the State of Rhode Island, the RITBA says it is incumbent upon them to maintain and preserve the bridge to extend its life. To do so, The Authority will undergo a major roadway deck project as part of its ongoing Ten-Year Capital Plan.

This will be a multi-phase project which will take place over a six to eight-year period. The first phase will focus on the bridge’s east approach (Newport side) covering about 2,000 feet of the 11,247-foot bridge. The first phase will consist of partial depth hydro-demolition and replacement of the concrete roadway deck from curb to curb. It will also include removal of the existing steel bearings from the bridge’s original construction in 1969 and replace them with new and modern elastomeric bearings. Other project components are described on the attached Fact Sheet.

The project work has been sequenced to minimize traffic problems during the high volume peak summer season. The initial work will begin the week of May 15 and will continue until the end of June. This work will require permanent lane closures, so there will be single travel lanes in each direction.

During July and August work will be performed from underneath the bridge using barges, as a result, there will not be any permanent lane closures during these months.

Starting September 19 the above deck work will commence again and will continue through December 2017. This stage will again require single travel lanes in each direction. There will be no lane closures on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

The project will also require prohibiting overwide vehicles with a width exceeding 8 feet 6 inches from crossing the bridge from May 15 through the end of June as well as September through December 2017. Overweight vehicles with Gross vehicle weight (GVW) over 80,000 pounds will be prohibited from crossing from May 15 through December. Rhode Island State Police presence will be increased during the project, strictly enforcing this ban and reduced speed restrictions for all vehicles.

RITBA has awarded the contract for this first phase of the deck repair project which will be completed this year. The deck repair project will take place over a period of six to eight years. Construction techniques, timing, and further contracts will be awarded only after a full assessment and analysis of performance and results of this first phase.
“This is a monumental project. We have gone to great lengths to maintain and repair the roadway deck on the Newport Pell Bridge, but at this point, the roadway deck needs partial replacement,” stated Buddy Croft, RITBA Executive Director. “We understand this project will impact motorists, and we are going to do our best to mitigate traffic issues.” Our number one priority here at RITBA is the safety of motorists. It is extremely important that we remain vigilant, maintain, and extend the life of our bridges so the motoring public knows they are safe.” Eric Offenberg, RITBA Director of Engineering stated, “when the bridge was constructed in 1969, the deck was expected to last thirty years, however, due to constant attention and maintenance, we have preserved it for nearly fifty years. This deck project is prudent in continuing our mission to preserve the life expectancy of the bridge and keeping our motoring public safe.”

To get more information on this project and real-time traffic, visit RITBA’s site at This site provides the latest information concerning lane closures, construction activity and traffic delays for the Newport Pell, Jamestown Verrazzano, Mount Hope and Sakonnet River Bridges, in addition to the RT. 138 Connector.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).