Governor McKee Shares Structural Analysis, Outlines Next Steps for The Washington Bridge

Published on Friday, March 15, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, and the Governor’s Senior Deputy Chief of Staff T. Joseph Almond held a briefing to share the findings of the structural analysis and the recommendation for the future of the Washington Bridge. A separate forensic analysis of the causes behind the bridge failure is currently underway and will provide the Administration with further insight into accountability in the coming weeks.

Since the two failed tie-rods were found in December 2023, an in-depth inspection of the bridge was performed by a team of engineering companies and reviewed by McNary, Bergeron & Johannesen, a third-party bridge construction firm hired at the direction of the Governor. These findings reinforce that the Administration’s decision to close the bridge on December 11, was absolutely essential to public safety.

The report identified additional, significant structural deficiencies that cannot viably be repaired. After reviewing the report in totality, McNary, Bergeron & Johannesen concurred with the recommendation that the westbound side of the Washington Bridge be replaced. According to a presentation by Jeff Mehle, an engineer with the firm, this decision means that the bridge’s superstructure must be demolished and replaced and that part, if not all, of the bridge’s substructure may also need to be replaced. 

“Rhode Islanders deserve answers, accountability, and a plan of action to restore normalcy to their daily lives. That is what we will deliver,” said Governor Dan McKee. “It is very important to me that Rhode Islanders have confidence in the findings and the recommendation for a path forward for the Washington Bridge. That is why I made sure that a third-party expert, unaffiliated with any current construction projects in Rhode Island, was able to oversee and review all the information gathered for this report.”

The initial cost estimate for the demolition and bridge replacement is between $250 million and $300 million. Both the demotion and the design-rebuild will be put out to bid to ensure the best use of taxpayer funds. A new bridge could be completed within 18 to 24 months of a contract award according to initial estimates.

Governor McKee continues to welcome oversight from various entities, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Rhode Island General Assembly. 

“I am deeply disturbed by the additional structural deficiencies identified by the in-depth review of the bridge,” Governor McKee added. “When we have all the facts, we will hold any responsible parties fully accountable. The day for accountability will come.”  

To view the structural analysis, McNary, Bergeron & Johannesen’s review, and the presentation from today’s briefing click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the section titled 'Additional Information & Graphics.'