Interstate 495-Rhode Island (unbuilt)

AN EXTENSION OF THE LONG ISLAND EXPRESSWAY TO RHODE ISLAND: During the 1960's, officials from New York State proposed a 55-mile-long extension of the Long Island Expressway from Riverhead, New York to Westerly, including a multi-span bridge across Long Island Sound. About five miles of new highway were to have been built between Napatree Point and the I-95 junction, part of which may have utilized the southerly portion of the Westerly Bypass before running parallel to RI 3. The proposed approach road was to end at I-95 just north of EXIT 1 (RI 3) at a "trumpet" interchange.

The highway and bridge never were formally added to the Federal-aid highway program, but both may have extended the I-495 designation from Long Island. After initial cooperation with New York officials, officials from Rhode Island backed out of the Orient Point-Watch Hill Bridge proposal in 1966, citing that the crossing was "not economically feasible."

In 1971, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) commissioned the consulting firm Creighton, Hamburg Incorporated for a study for proposed alternative bridge locations. The proposed Orient Point-Watch Hill Bridge was estimated to cost $634.8 million, the costliest of the eight locations, and was to have been supported by base tolls of $3.75 each way. At 6,800 vehicles per day, the Orient Point-Watch Hill Bridge would have had the lowest AADT (annual average daily traffic) counts. It also would have had the most devastating impact on the environment, taking nearly 150 acres of wetlands.

The Orient Point-Watch Hill crossing was studied again in 1979, but by that time officials from New York State and Rhode Island no longer were interested in pursuing this proposal.

SOURCES: "Across the Sound" by Byron Porterfield, The New York Times (7/09/1961); "Proposed Long Island to Rhode Island Bridge," Suffolk County Planning Department (1961); "Expressway Plans," Regional Plan Association News (May 1964); "Rhode Island Route Studied" by Douglas Dales, The New York Times (8/19/1964); "Long Island Sound Bridge Study Commission: Report to the General Assembly," Rhode Island Legislature (1966); Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); A Comprehensive Transportation Study for Proposed Bridge Crossings, Creighton, Hamburg, Incorporated (1971); Long Island Sound Crossing, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York State Department of Transportation (1972); Long Island Sound Bridge Study, New York State Department of Transportation (1979); "The Great Escape" by Tom Morris, Newsday (10/31/1999); Daniel T. Dey; Ralph Herman; Nick Klissas; Scott Kozel; Scott Oglesby; Jim Wade.

  • I-495 shield by Ralph Herman.


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