RIDOT: Bridge over Mineral Spring Ave. deficient but safe

RIDOT: Bridge over Mineral Spring Ave. deficient but safe

The condition of the underside of the Route 146 overpass crossing Mineral Spring Avenue has town officials concerned, but representatives from RIDOT say the bridge is safe. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation have again inspected the Route 146 overpass crossing Mineral Spring Avenue and have deemed it safe to travel under.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he called RIDOT late last month after receiving more complaints from residents about the condition of the overpass, which shows large chunks of concrete missing from its underside. He said he took a look at the bottom of the bridge and saw the missing chunks and water dripping through.

“It is concerning,” he said, adding that it’s hard to believe the condition of the bridge doesn’t pose a risk to motorists on the busy stretch of roadway.

Charles St. Martin, spokesman for RIDOT, said officials visited the bridge on April 4 to inspect the span.

“While it is deficient, it is safe,” said St. Martin.

The bridge is on the list of 150 structurally deficient bridges statewide that are inspected annually. While annual inspection of the bridge takes place in the summer, this particular bridge “is inspected continuously and will be until the point where it is replaced in 2020 as part of the RhodeWorks” bridge replacement program, said St. Martin.

“For the first time, we have a funding program though RhodeWorks to take care of these, but it takes time to correct as the state of our deficient bridges was decades in the making,” he said.

Town officials have been warning for several years about the poor condition of the bridge, saying they worry that a chunk of concrete could fall on a passing motorist or pedestrian.

Former RIDOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros told The Breeze in 2015 that the exposure of rebar under bridge was caused by workers removing loose concrete as part of a regular “preventative maintenance” program.

The area of exposed rebar has grown significantly since then.

The RhodeWorks plan calls for Rhode Island officials to use fees from planned highway truck tolls to pay for bridge repairs and replacements.

Rhode Island ranks last in the country in the condition of its bridges, with 56 percent of them rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by the state.