The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has released the schedule for rotating lane closures on Interstate 95 North and South throughout the rest of the summer. Starting next week, Phase Two of construction on the Oxford Street Bridge will begin with the closure of one lane on each side, splitting traffic.
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The $10.8 million construction project began earlier this summer, when crews narrowed the lanes in both directions to allow for preliminary work near Exit 18. RIDOT said the lane closures are needed to allow for the replacement of the bridge deck.
The first traffic change will go into place on Friday, July 19. Every one to two weeks after, the lane pattern will change. Throughout construction, Exit 18 will only be accessible from the far right lane on the southbound side. During the second lane change, starting July 26, Exit 18 will be closed to traffic on I-95 South. All bridge deck replacement work is scheduled to be finished by the end of the summer, with all lanes set to be open in September. Each lane change will go into effect on the northbound side on Fridays and the southbound side on Saturdays.
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The split lanes and short merge lane at Exit 18 is expected to cause backups heading into Providence and the Interstate 195 interchange, especially during rush hour. Drivers are encouraged to leave extra travel time and drive slowly in the area. If possible, RIDOT asks drivers to avoid the on-ramps in the Thurbers Avenue and Allens Avenue area to help reduce congestion, or to consider using the MBTA commuter rail, which runs from Wickford Junction to Providence or Boston, with a stop at T.F. Green Airport.
When driving through the area, drivers should not attempt to stop or switch lanes. Doing so increases the likelihood of crashes or traffic congestion.