Northbound commuters will cross over the new Sakonnet River Bridge on Thursday, as the state Department of transportation opens several lanes.
According to Charles St. Martin, the northbound lanes on Route 24 will be redirected to the new bridge, eliminating the 18-ton weight limit and shortening the drive with the reopening of exit 5.
In approximately one week, the new bridge also will carry southbound traffic, according to the DOT.
“With tomorrow’s milestone opening of the new Sakonnet River Bridge to northbound traffic, we will reduce the lengthy detour that the motoring public has used over the past four years,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “We thank the two host communities of Tiverton and Portsmouth for their continued patience and support during this project.”
The new bridge is 2,265 feet long and approximately 96 feet wide. There are two 12-foot lanes in each direction with wide shoulders. Mariners will find a wider passage under the bridge’s center span and the new bridge maintains the minimum vertical clearance over the river of 65 feet.
Once all traffic has been shifted to the new bridge, work will continue on approach roads on both sides of the span. Demolition of segments of the old bridge must take place before this work is finalized. RIDOT expects construction activities on the segments of Route 24 approaching the bridge to be ongoing through spring 2013.