Interstate 195 Rhode Island / Massachusetts

Routing

Interstate 195 serves regional traffic demands, joining Providence, Rhode Island and the I-95 corridor with Fall River, New Bedford and Cape Cod in southeast Massachusetts. With auxiliary lanes, the nearly 45 mile long route accommodates as many as ten lanes.

Starting in Downtown Providence across the Iway Bridge over Providence Harbor, I-195 travels to East Providence, Rhode Island and suburban areas of Seekonk and Swansea, Massachusetts. East from there, I-195 crosses the Taunton River on the Braga Bridge to the city of Fall River, where the freeway passes below the Fall River Government Center through a cut and cover tunnel. Route 24 also overlaps with I-195 between separate freeways leading south to Tiverton, R.I. and north to Taunton, Mass.

Continuing east from Fall River, Interstate 195 parallels U.S. 6 through rural sections of Westport and Dartmouth with six overall lanes. The freeway narrows to four lanes across the city of New Bedford, where it spans the Acushnet River along a short causeway. Curving northeast, I-195 heads through Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Marion through to its junction with Interstate 495 and Route 25 in Wareham.

Massachusetts 25 extends the Interstate 495 freeway east from I-195 to Buzzards Bay, U.S. 6 and the Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod. The Bourne Bridge provides one of two spans across Cape Cod Canal, with U.S. 6 east over the Sagamore Bridge being the other.

History

Initially planned as Interstate 95E in 1957, the East Providence Expressway was renumbered as I-195 in 1959. Work on the route through Providence was already underway by 1956, with a one mile section completed through the Jewelry District in 1958. Construction of I-195 through East Providence was underway in 1957, and completed to the state line in 1960.1

Interstate 195 was originally proposed east only as far as New Bedford, Massachusetts. Construction on the freeway in the Bay State started in 1958, with the first segment opened to traffic between Seekonk and Swansea in 1960. Another seven miles of I-195 were completed from Exit 3 to Exit 10 in Westport in 1965.1

Interstate 195 completed from Providence to U.S. 6 and Route 118 in 1963.

Work on I-195 east to Massachusetts 18 in New Bedford continued to 1968. The remaining 14 miles east from there were built between 1968 and 1974, and signed as a new alignment for U.S. 6. With AASHTO approval on June 17, 1975, Interstate 195 was formally extended eastward to Massachusetts 25 in Wareham, with U.S. 6 shifted back to its former course.1

Costing $610 million, the Iway Project in Providence, Rhode Island relocated 1.6 miles of Interstate 195 onto a new seven-span, 1,250 foot long bridge3 over the Providence River. The 2,000 foot realignment of I-195 passes south of the Hurricane Barrier along the Providence River, connecting with a new three-wye interchange with Interstate 95 to the west, and leading east to India Point Park. Improvements included rebuilding a 0.8-mile section of I-95 as well.4

The Iway Project addressed regular congestion along the curved portions of both Interstates 95 and 195 south of Downtown Providence. Work involved 14 new bridges, including the eight-lane Iway Bridge. 20 acres of land were made available for redevelopment along the former I-195 right of way. The Iway Bridge was constructed off site and transported by barge in August 2006 for installation.4 The main span is a 400 foot long network arch bridge.3

The new Iway Bridge opened to eastbound traffic on November 4, 2007. Westbound traffic shifted to the span on June 18, 2009.5 Final work on the Iway Project wrapped up by the end of 2010.3

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 95 - Providence, Rhode Island
Perspective from Interstate 195 west
The last overhead sign assembly on Interstate 195 before the split to Interstate 95. U.S. 6 continues on Interstate 95 northbound to Exit 22. Control cities featured are Boston for north and New York for south. Photo taken by Dan Moraseski (02/01).
End Interstate 195 shield on the ramp to Interstate 95 south. The guide sign in the distance is for the first southbound Interstate 95 exit one encounters for Allens Avenue/Exit 19. Photo taken by Dan Moraseski (02/01).
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Construction started in 2014 for the Providence Viaduct replacement project rebuilt the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 through to the exchange with U.S. 6 west and Memorial Boulevard east. New signs were installed along this stretch in 2015, including a side mounted sign for I-195 east ahead of the Smith Street overpass. Photo taken by H.B. Elkins (05/31/13).
U.S. 6 east combines with Interstate 95 south from the Huntington Expressway for a short overlap through to Interstate 195 east (Exit 20). Photo taken by H.B. Elkins (05/31/13).
A lane drop occurs at forthcoming Exit 20 for Interstate 195 & U.S. 6 east. The two routes cross the Iway Bridge to India Point Park, and the Washington Bridge over the Seekonk River into East Providence. Photo taken by H.B. Elkins (05/31/13).
Staying below grade, Interstate 95 & U.S. 6 curve southeast through to their split at I-195 (Exit 20) below the Broad Street overpass. Photo taken by H.B. Elkins (05/31/13).
Historic Perspective from Interstate 95 south
An older diagrammatic sign posted at the Atwells Avenue overpass preceded the short overlap of U.S. 6 east between the Huntington Expressway west and the former alignment of I-195 east. Photo taken 06/26/05.
A button copy overhead at the Broad Street overpass outlined the original left-hand ramp (Exit 20) for Interstate 195 & U.S. 6 east. Photo taken 06/26/05.
Perspective from Interstate 95 north
The first guide sign for the upcoming junction with Interstate 195 (Exit 20) posted on Interstate 95 northbound. Interstate 95 carries eight lanes of freeway into through Providence to downtown. Departing the freeway ahead is the Exit 18 off-ramp to U.S. 1A (Thurbers Avenue). Photo taken 06/26/05.
Interstate 95 turns north along Evans Avenue (U.S. 1A) and the Providence River on the approach to Exit 20 and Interstate 195 east. High-rises from downtown Providence rise along the northern horizon. The central business district is bound by Interstate, Interstate 195, and Memorial Boulevard. Photo taken 06/26/05.
Interstate 95 draws to within one half mile of the Interstate 195 & U.S. 6 directional interchange (Exit 20). Signs of construction underway involving the building of a new Interstate 195 interchange and arch bridge over the Providence River become apparent. Interstate 195 & U.S. 6 overlap from Exit 20 east to the Washington Bridge and East Providence. Photo taken 06/26/05.
Traffic moves sluggishly as Interstate 195 eastbound departs from Interstate 95 northbound. Exit 20 panels feature East Providence (pop. 48,688) as a second control point in addition to Cape Cod. The southern reaches of Cape Cod National Seashore are 98 miles to the east of Providence via Interstate 195, Massachusetts 25, and U.S. 6. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (09/28/01).
A temporary construction sign was in use for the Exit 20 ramp departure of Interstate 195 & U.S. 6 eastbound at the time of this photograph. The new Interstate 195 will cross the Providence River east from the area of Evans Avenue (U.S. 1A) and Blackstone Street to India Point. From there Interstate 195 will resume on its original alignment at the Washington Bridge into East Providence. Photo taken 06/26/05.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 495 - near Wareham, Massachusetts
Perspective from Interstate 195 east
The second to last exit on Interstate 195 is for Exit 21/Massachusetts 28 to Wareham. The state route cuts the corner of Interstate 195 to Massachusetts 25/Exit 22A and is the first eastbound exit of Massachusetts 25. Note that the mainline of Interstate 195 is now shown as Interstate 495. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/20/02).
Interstate 195 eastbound draws to a close at Exits 22A/B. Traffic departing to the right will enter the Massachusetts 25 freeway eastward to East Wareham, Indian Beach, and Buzzards Bay. Traffic continuing straight can turn back to the northwest on the northbound beginning of Interstate 495. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/20/02).
Perspective from Massachusetts 25 north
The first exit for Interstate 495 northbound is Exit 1 of Interstate 195 westbound. This interchange is unique in that both Interstates 195 and 495 terminate at the same time Massachusetts 25 ends. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/20/02).

Sources:

  1. East Providence Expressway (I-195). BostonRoads.com.
  2. Interstate 195-Massachusetts. BostonRoads.com.
  3. IWAY " Steere Engineering Inc.
  4. Iway (I-195 Relocation Project) - FHWA Center for Innovative Finance Support: Project Profiles.
  5. Iway - Wikipedia.

Page Updated August 3, 2017.

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