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Rhode Island DOT Celebrates the Opening of the New Henderson Bridge Connecting Providence and East Providence

PROVIDENCE, RI — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressmen Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, Jr. and other federal, state, and local leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of the new Henderson Bridge connecting Providence and East Providence.

With the opening of the bridge to traffic, RIDOT was able to finally shift drivers off a bridge that has been structurally deficient for nearly 30 years and cost the department millions of dollars in repairs to keep it safe and operational.

The $84.4 million project was largely supported by an additional $54.5 million in federal funding for Rhode Island as part of a spending law authored by Reed to assist states with the highest percentage of bridge deck area in poor condition.

The bridge also includes a shared-use bike path, completely separated from vehicular traffic, alongside the eastbound side of the bridge. It connects Massasoit Avenue in East Providence directly to East River Street in Providence and is scheduled to be open by the end of this month.

Aside from providing a safe and modern structure to serve vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, the new Henderson Bridge occupies a reduced structural footprint that is 75 percent smaller than the old bridge. When originally opened in 1969, it was overbuilt as part of a proposed highway expansion project that was never constructed. RIDOT expects significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs with the smaller bridge.

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The new design creates a unique economic development opportunity on the East Providence waterfront, freeing up approximately 25 acres of land.

Now right-sized to the needs of the communities it serves, the new bridge represents a 12 percent reduction in the current amount of structurally deficient bridge area statewide. This will greatly aid RIDOT’s 10-year commitment to reduce its high level of deficient bridges from 27 percent to 10 percent by 2026.

“This day has been years in the making, and I’m proud to have helped make it happen. The Henderson Bridge is a key connector for Rhode Island’s communities. I want to salute the talented, hardworking men and women who helped build this bridge. They contributed to a better, safer, smoother, more efficient bridge that will serve the community for generations. The new bridge includes dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, which enhances safety, reduces congestion, and improves public health,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who, in 2019, leveraged his role atop the transportation subcommittee to successfully deliver an additional $54.5 million in bridge funding for Rhode Island, which was used for this project. Reed’s program continues to provide tens of millions for bridge repairs in Rhode Island each year.

“We’re making once-in-a-generation investments in Rhode Island’s infrastructure and economy,” Whitehouse said. “The Henderson Bridge connects thousands of Rhode Islanders to work, school, and other activities every day. With a major federal boost in large part thanks to Senator Reed, this project is improving the safety and longevity of the bridge for drivers and pedestrians, and opening up exciting possibilities for development in the East Bay.”

“We are so grateful for the efforts of our Congressional Delegation to continue to provide dedicated funding to help us replace Rhode Island’s deficient bridges,” Alviti said. “RIDOT will continue to hold up its end of the bargain, to put these funds to use as quickly as possible and deliver safe and modern transportation infrastructure for all users.”

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