PROVIDENCE, RI (STL.News) – Friday Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Senator Jack Reed, Congressman David Cicilline, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti, Jr., Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, Federal Highway Administration Rhode Island Administrator Carlos Machado, and I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Chairman Robert Davis officially opened the new Providence River Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge connects the east and west sides of the Providence River.
“The Providence River Pedestrian Bridge is an important new landmark for Providence and for our state,” Governor Raimondo said. “By connecting Providence’s historic East Side and its growing Innovation District, we are strengthening the fabric of this city. This bridge will help ensure that both neighborhoods continue to be attractive places to live, work, and visit for years to come.”
As the Iway (I-195 Relocation) Project neared completion in the early 2010s, the city led a design competition for the bridge. The proposal submitted by the winning architect, Inform Studios, proceeded through numerous reviews, and was selected in 2011. Construction on the bridge began in the fall of 2016 and was completed this summer.
“The old 195 bridge split the city and this new bridge brings it together to create a destination and a connection. This bridge will also serve as an architectural symbol for our creative capital. There is a lot more work that needs to be done to improve bridges across Rhode Island and I will continue doing everything I can at the federal level to assist the state,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD), who successfully included a new Bridge Grant program in the fiscal year 2019 spending law that netted Rhode Island an additional $54.5 million to help finance urgently needed bridge repairs this year.
The project makes use of the foundations of the old Providence River highway bridge, but is designed using custom finishes including durable, long-lasting and low maintenance hardwood decks and railings. A special feature is a lower level “terrace” with seating, planters and decorative lighting.
“This new pedestrian bridge not only provides easy access between the Providence River’s east and west sides, but also symbolizes the growth of the city as a destination for the arts and innovation,” U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline said. “Now that the bridge is open to the public, we’ll start to see the tremendous benefits it brings to neighborhoods and businesses on both sides of the river. There has been a lot of excitement around the opening of the bridge, and I know it will quickly become an important landmark in the city.”
“Our residents enjoy a quality of life and space that make Providence one of the best mid-sized cities in the country to live, work and visit,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “The Providence River Bridge will better connect residents and businesses to our growing Design and Tech Innovation District being developed on the former I-195 highway land and to the neighborhoods around our vibrant downtown while serving as a regional attraction for all who wish to explore the Creative Capital.”
At either end of the bridge is a system of parks RIDOT is building under a separate project that will open later this year. A segment of the parks is currently open to allow pedestrians and cyclists to make use of the bridge.
“This is a unique project for RIDOT with many custom components,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti. “We recognize it will be much more than a simple bridge – it will become a destination of its own.”
“This bridge connects the Innovation & Design District to the rest of our capital city – and links it to limitless new opportunities,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “Today’s ribbon cutting reflects the culmination of hard work by many, including Governor Raimondo, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, the I-195 Commission, the City of Providence, the Providence Foundation, and the Jewelry District Association. Today we debut a bridge to a new era of innovation in our state.”
The project cost for the bridge was $21.9 million and the project cost for the parks is $9.2 million. The projects were funded using land sale proceeds obtained when RIDOT sold the I-195 highway corridor lands to the I-195 Redevelopment Commission.
“Bridges are built to connect communities and places, but the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge has more than one purpose,” said Federal Highway Administration Rhode Island Administrator Carlos Machado. “It’s a monument that reminds us of the historic alignment of Interstate 195 and a new landmark for our Metropolitan Capital.”
“This stunning bridge is the centerpiece of the Innovation District,” said Robert Davis, Chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. “It not only physically binds the neighborhood, but the pedestrian bridge has also been a project driven by community input that grew out of our shared desire to create a place for people to gather and enjoy this beautiful city.”
A memorandum of understanding transferring ownership of the bridge from RIDOT to the City of Providence was signed prior to the opening ceremony. Both the bridge and the parks will be managed and maintained by the City of Providence following construction.