McKee Administration Update on Washington Bridge Response

Published on Tuesday, December 12, 2023

PROVIDENCE, RI — Yesterday, experts and engineers at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) did the swift, necessary work to close the Washington Bridge with the priority of keeping residents safe and getting detour information to travelers as quickly as possible. Today, Governor Dan McKee was joined by Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) Director Marc Pappas, Colonel Darnell Weaver of the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) and Commerce Secretary Elizabeth Tanner to provide an update on the Administration's Washington Bridge response. 

“Rhode Island has a strong team of public safety and engineering experts who were mobilized quickly yesterday to address a critical issue at the Washington Bridge with the chief goal of keeping residents safe – I trust those experts and I thank them for their work. Our response and recovery team will continue to work across state government, local government and with the business community to ensure an efficient and coordinated response while RIDOT works to get the bridge reopened as soon as possible,” said Governor Dan McKee.  

Updates on the response:

  • The Governor, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and the chief bridge engineer visited the Washington Bridge site early this morning to survey the damage and discuss ongoing detour plans. 
  • Earlier today, RIDOT opened a single lane for emergency vehicles from East Providence to Providence on the Washington Bridge – that lane is now open. The vehicles will be allowed to enter at various access points in coordination with local police and fire, crossing one at a time. RIDOT engineers determined this use is safe.
  • Governor McKee spoke with U.S. DOT Secretary Buttigieg and our Administration contacted Senator Jack Reed and the Federal Highway Administration about options for federal support. The State will pursue any and all resources available to help the ongoing response.
  • RIEMA proactively reached out to local emergency managers and public safety officials ahead of the bridge closure. RIEMA also worked closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and connected with the Hospital Association of Rhode Island regarding ambulance services.
  • Rhode Island Commerce has been in frequent communication with the City of Providence and the City of East Providence about the impact on local businesses. They will continue to work closely with the business community to mitigate any impacts. Any business with questions or in need of assistance should contact (401) 521-HELP or visit [] for more information. 
  • This afternoon, the Governor, joined by RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and RIEMA Director Marc Pappas, held a virtual update for all municipal leader. Beginning yesterday, the Administration was in contact with the City of Providence and the City of East Providence about response and detour plans.