Councilor confirms, state is replacing bike path bridges

Rob Humm: ‘they (DOT) will move forward once they have determined the best design concept’

By Josh Bickford
Posted 9/8/21

A member of the Barrington Town Council recently confirmed that the state has committed to replacing the East Bay Bike Path bridges. 

Late last month, Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha said …

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Councilor confirms, state is replacing bike path bridges

Rob Humm: ‘they (DOT) will move forward once they have determined the best design concept’

Posted

A member of the Barrington Town Council recently confirmed that the state has committed to replacing the East Bay Bike Path bridges. 

Late last month, Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha said that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation had absolutely committed to replacing the now-closed bike path bridges. That news was tempered by a spokesman from the DOT who would not confirm the information offered by Mr. Cunha.

But last weekend, council member Rob Humm informed the Barrington Times that the highest ranking official with the RIDOT had, in fact, said the state planned to replace the bridges. 

“I was at that meeting with the DOT and I one hundred percent agree with Jim,” Mr. Humm wrote in an email. “The key takeaway from the meeting was that Director (Peter) Alviti shared his ‘good news’ that the DOT thinks they found an alternative way to replace the bike path bridges, and at a much reduced cost of approximately $10-12 million.”

Mr. Humm wrote that the RI Department of Transportation is currently working on finalizing three construction alternatives to rebuild the bridges. The alternatives will be within the reduced budget, he wrote. 

“…they will move forward once they have determined the best design concept,” Mr. Humm wrote.

Residents, non-residents and town officials have been pressing the DOT to replace the now-closed bike path bridges as soon as possible. The state ordered the bridges closed more than a year ago, and created a detour that directed bicyclists and pedestrians onto the Barrington and Warren river vehicle bridges. Safety concerns led state officials to design an improved detour with a dedicated boardwalk lane on the vehicle bridges for bicyclists and walkers. Crews recently began constructing the detour enhancements.

Mr. Cunha said the improved detour should not serve as an indicator that the state was going to trade the bridge replacements for a long-term detour. In fact, the manager said the state had “absolutely” committed to replacing the bridges. He said that news was shared during a meeting earlier this summer. 

Mr. Humm agreed with that account.

In an email, Mr. Humm wrote that the DOT provided a rough timeline for the project — “…they are working to complete the concept/design phase in the next few weeks, and then will go out to procurement. Procurement could take an estimated 4-5 months, give or take, and will probably be completed around the spring.”

Mr. Humm wrote that the RFP (request for proposals) for the bridges will ask the bidders for their least cost proposal and their quickest proposal.

“According to the DOT’s rough estimate, the total estimated timeframe to completion would take approximately 1.5 to 2 construction seasons after the design phase is complete in the next few weeks,” he wrote.

With all the information shared by the department of transportation at the recent meeting, Mr. Humm wrote that it seemed quite clear the state intends to replace the bike path bridges. 

“To me, that’s a commitment to move forward with the process to replace the bike path bridges,” he wrote.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.