Stone Arch Bridge to re-open in December

Stone Arch Bridge to re-open in December

Woonsocket Hill Road span nears completion; other jobs set to begin

NORTH SMITHFIELD – According to reports from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, residents have less than two months to go until the long-awaited reopening of the Stone Arch Bridge at the heart of Slatersville on Route 5.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski told The Breeze that RIDOT officials have indicated the work is moving according to schedule and the bridge will reopen to two-way traffic in December. Work on the bridge will continue into next year and is scheduled to wrap up in 2019.

“They’re not saying what date, I don’t have a specific date yet, but they continue to tell me that it will be open in December for two-way traffic,” said Ezovski. “The project will not be completely done, but traffic will be restored to the bridge.”

The closure, which began in January, is the second of two closures of the main thoroughfare in the past 18 months as RIDOT completes a total rehabilitation of the historic structure. The works includes concrete reinforcement of the 150-year-old bridge, along with road improvements along Main Street and Route 5.

In the meantime, businesses continue to feel the impact as detours reroute traffic away from Main Street. In April, Gusto Pizzeria & Spaghetteria, a business that had spent eight years in the building directly opposite the bridge, closed its doors, the owner citing high rents and a 40 percent drop in business due to the bridge closure. Last month, road repaving added to business owners’ woes as heavy rains combined with pavement removal made for difficult travel along Main Street. The pavement has since been restored, with the remainder of repaving down to the bridge scheduled to be complete by this week, according to Ezovski.

“It’s been very difficult for the businesses, especially in the last few weeks with the road reconstruction that’s taken place out front. It’s gotten to the point that deliveries need to be turned away. They just can’t get to the buildings,” he said.

Ezovski said he has spoken with local business owners who are concerned about the impact on their upcoming holiday sales, but does not know at what point in the month the bridge will reopen.

“It’s been tough, and the businesspeople that are continuing to push through it should be commended and supported because they’ve hung on,” he said.

The news is a little more positive for another local bridge closure, the Woonsocket Hill Road bridge over Route 146. While the official RIDOT opening date for that bridge remains in December, Ezovski said he’s heard numerous indications the bridge will reopen ahead of schedule and will likely be open to traffic by the end of this month.

The updates come as the town prepares for another major bridge project, the restoration of the Great Road bridge over the Branch River near St. Paul Street. According to RIDOT officials, that project will go out to bid in January, with work due to begin on April 30 and continue for two years. Beginning next year, the bridge will close to eastbound traffic, with automobile traffic detoured to Pound Hill Road and truck traffic detoured to Greenville Road. Westbound traffic will continue uninterrupted.

“That will be for an extended period. That’s going to be a pain,” said Ezovski.

Work also continues on the Route 146 bridge over Pound Hill Road, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2019, and plans are taking shape for restoration of bridges on Pound Hill Road over Cherry Brook and Route 146 over Connector Road. A plan to restore the Union Village Railroad Bridge near Lapre Road, according to Ezovski, was recently delayed to 2020 due to evidence of historic structure remains near the bridge.