Governor McKee Announces Plans For Third Travel Lane for I-195 Approaching The Washington Bridge

Published on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – To further reduce congestion and travel times caused by the Washington Bridge westbound closure, Governor Dan McKee today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will adjust the temporary traffic patterns in East Providence and Providence to provide three lanes of travel in both directions of I-195.

"Rhode Island remains committed to addressing concerns at the Washington Bridge and providing relief to drivers and travelers," said Governor Dan McKee. "I'd like to thank my Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Almond, Director Peter Alviti, Rhode Island DOT, and our partners at the Federal Highway Administration for working to open this third lane, which will cut back on travel delays and reduce congestion around the bridge."

RIDOT, along with traffic engineering and structural engineering consultants and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) traffic experts, have certified that the eastbound bridge structure is sufficient to carry the extra lane. The maximization of the entire paved width of I-195 East with narrowed lanes will increase motor vehicle capacity by 50% and will be safer and more efficient than the existing configuration.

Work will begin on Monday, February 26 with design and ordering materials, followed by construction to move the start of the bypass lanes in East Providence about 3,000 feet west of its current location. The entire process to implement the three-lane configuration and open it to traffic will take approximately eight weeks. The schedule is subject to changes brought about by supply chain issues, adverse weather, and temperature. RIDOT will continuously report on its progress. 

RIDOT expects this change will reduce travel times on I-195, in both the eastbound and westbound direction, which will help alleviate traffic on local streets in East Providence that have been busier because of motorists seeking alternate routes.

With the implementation of the three-lane configuration in both directions, lanes will be narrowed from 12 feet to 10 feet. Trucks will be restricted to the far-right lane in each direction, which will be 11 feet wide, and RIDOT will post signage that trucks must use the far-right lane only. 

The speed limit on I-195 through the bypass lanes in both directions will be reduced to 40 mph. 

Because of the three-lane configuration eastbound, traffic entering the highway from South Water Street and India Street will need to yield when entering the highway. This may cause delays for motorists using this ramp to enter onto I-195 East during rush hour. 

Once the three-lane configuration is put into place, RIDOT will remove the lane reduction on I-195 West just east of the East Shore Expressway near the state line, which was installed in early February. This will no longer be needed with the three-lane configuration.