Relief for businesses, motorists as Albion bridges reopen in Lincoln

Relief for businesses, motorists as Albion bridges reopen in Lincoln

The Albion bridges, at top, in April prior to rehabilitation. Above, rusty guardrails and their rosette detailing have been replaced and given a bright coat of paint.

LINCOLN – After four months of detours, the pair of Albion bridges on School Street officially re-opened to traffic over the weekend.

After the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced its intention to open the bridges last Friday, Aug. 30, drivers attempting to pass through that day were turned away by police. The bridges opened to the public close to midnight.

The bridges, which carry School Street over the Blackstone River and Blackstone Canal between Main Street in Albion and Mendon Road in Cumberland, were closed for the summer while RIDOT rehabilitated pedestrian and safety railings for vehicles on the 130-year-old historic bridges.

Though there was no work done on the surface of the bridges, they were closed to traffic due to their narrowness. The bridges were originally built in 1885, and rehabilitated in 1924, 1996 and 2015.

Businesses and individuals have waited for the two-span pony truss bridge to re-open since April 15. Since the spring, people on both sides of the Blackstone River in Cumberland and Lincoln have been unable to use the major cut-through, instead detouring several miles through Lincoln.

Shops on Mendon Road expressed frustration when sales dropped significantly thanks to the closure, with Depault Hardware losing business during its busiest season.

Even larger stores such as Seabra Foods reported a loss in profits when the bridges closed, telling The Valley Breeze that the store’s customer count dropped by at least 10 to 15 percent in a few months.

Store manager Andrew Raposo said business has picked up again since Friday. “It looks like we’ve gotten most, if not all, of our customers back. So far so good,” he said.

Richard Depault, owner of Depault Hardware, has rounded up the businesses in the plaza at 2000 Mendon Road for a field day of sorts this September, an attempt to bring back some business.

“We want to regenerate some spark, create a little buzz,” Depault said.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, the businesses plan to team up to offer food and entertainment to the public.