Henderson Bridge Update

This is long overdue, and the plans look great, but there may be some traffic in our future. Regular users of the Henderson Bridge have noticed increased activity at both ends — staging areas with heavy equipment and containment booms — signs that construction is in the offing. According to the dedicated RIDOT web page, Henderson Bridge & Henderson Expressway, Phase I was scheduled to start in the fall. The bridge will remain open during construction. We don’t know when they plan to kick this off in earnest; as of today, the following is all they have under Travel Advisories:

Henderson Pkwy. West, at the off-ramp to Massasoit, ramp closed for construction, effective Dec. 11 until further notice.

The moderator of a ‘virtual town hall meeting’ held in May describes the current bridge as follows: “As originally constructed, this was a six lane highway to nowhere.” Amen. No one alive today can remember a time when the bridge was anything but Jersey barriers, yellow barrels, and weird dead end ramps. Was it ever finished?

So what improvements can we look forward to? A roundabout on the East Providence side! A dedicated bike/pedestrian lane (with a safer, reconfigured approach for bicyclists from Waterman Street). The bridge will be shorter and narrower. The six lanes will become three, with two lanes heading for the East Side and one going to East Providence (the image shows the bridge looking towards East Providence).

I recommend watching the virtual town hall meeting. There are very useful slides and explanations. (A roundabout is not a rotary! Apparently it is much smaller and slower, and traffic entering must yield.) There is even an animation portion at the 26 minute mark. (You can watch the 3-minute animation on YouTube.) East Providence stands to benefit from significant reordering of roadways and entrance ramps and such, opening up much land along the river for development. The changes on the Providence end are not as extensive, but very welcome.

One cool improvement on our side: A proposed sidewalk running along the dog park that will connect Angell Street to Waterman Street. A crosswalk connects the sidewalk to the shared-use lane on the bridge. This will allow pedestrians to take a pleasant and safe walk from one side of the river to the other, with those views down to the bay.

RIDOT will rebuild the bridge using $54.5 million in federal funds secured by our congressional delegation. The total cost for this project is $88.5 million. They hope to complete construction in the summer of 2024.

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