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Press Release: RIDOT Reopens Cottrell Bridge on Route 91 in Westerly

RHODE ISLAND, October 3 - Rhode Island Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Carlos C. Machado, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Chief Operating Officer Loren Doyle, and Westerly Town Manager Shawn Lacey today joined other state and local leaders to celebrate the completion of the Cottrell Bridge in Westerly, an important link for the community connecting Route 78 and Route 1.

RIDOT replaced the structurally deficient bridge using corrosion resistant fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) tub girders instead of steel beams. This accelerated bridge construction method allowed RIDOT to compress work that normally would have stretched a full construction season into just three months. A shorter duration closure not only cut down on the length of time drivers needed to detour, it reduced emissions that would have resulted from a longer-term detour.

"Along rural roads in Rhode Island like this one, closing a bridge is a big deal given the distances people need to travel to get around it," Governor Dan McKee said. "That's why we're so grateful for the diligent work of the men and women on RIDOT's team that fast-tracked this work and reopened this road in very short order."

"FHWA's commitment to innovation is central to much of what the Agency will continue to do over the next several years," Administrator Machado said. "We have already seen innovation improve our roads and bridges to increase safety and accessibility for our residents and travelers. But new technologies – such as accelerate bridge construction – hold the promise to dramatically reduce highway closures, fatalities and expand access to transportation for traditionally underserved communities. So, encouraging innovation, while ensuring safety is more important than ever for my Administration."

"This is another example of RIDOT meeting the needs of the community, employing innovative bridge construction methods to replace this bridge as quickly as possible and provide a safe, modern bridge that will serve Westerly for decades to come," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said.

"The residents of the Town of Westerly certainly now recognize Route 91 as a major artery and thoroughfare linking so many parts of our community," Town Manager Shawn Lacey said. "The replacement and upgrade of the Cottrell Bridge was vital to ensure the safety of the surrounding wildlife habitat and especially for the over 4,300 vehicles that traverse the bridge daily. We are pleased and grateful for the professional and diligent work by RIDOT in fast-tracking the project to meet the needs and lessen the burden to the commuters here in Westerly."

The replacement of the bridge was timed to coordinate with the Department of Environmental Management's requirement to schedule certain construction activities only during a low-flow period for the McGowan Brook to minimize any impact on the environment.

With the reopening, the 8-ton weight limit has been removed. Some final detail work may be needed weekdays as the $5.5 million project wraps up. The Cottrell Bridge carries approximately 4,300 vehicles per day.

All construction projects are subject to changes in schedule and scope depending on needs, circumstances, findings, and weather.

This bridge replacement project is made possible by RhodeWorks and the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Improvement Act. RIDOT is committed to bringing Rhode Island's infrastructure into a state of good repair while respecting the environment and striving to improve it. Learn more at www.ridot.net/RhodeWorks.