Warwick-based Aetna awarded tentative $45.8M contract to demolish Washington westbound bridge


The Warwick-based company that previously worked on the westbound Washington Bridge before its sudden closure last December is the state’s choice to tear it down.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s (RIDOT) public bid portal Friday afternoon revealed Aetna Bridge Co. was awarded a tentative contract to demolish the bridge by March 2025.

Aetna was one of two vendors that responded to RIDOT’s request for proposals. The other bidder was Manafort Brothers Inc., headquartered in Plainville, Connecticut, but has an office in Cumberland.

Manafort will receive $100,000 as part of the state’s incentive to attract bidders.

Aetna estimated the cost to demolish the bridge was $45.8 million — over $5 million more than the state’s price tag. Manafort’s bid was for $43.8 million. The overall cost to demolish and rebuild the westbound highway over the Seekonk River is tagged at over $400 million.

A technical review group found that Aetna’s plan was overall a better value and at they indicated they could do the work in 50 days fewer than the bid request asked for, said RIDOT Communications Director Liz Pettengill.

“Secondly, they are assuming all the risk,” she said.

The demolition process is divided into four parts: the Gano Street ramp, west end of the bridge, east cantilever spans, and east end of the structure. The initial RFP noted that the existing substructure “shall remain in place for the potential repair and reuse” in the reconstruction of the bridge.

RIDOT plans to impose a $30,000 daily “disincentive” if Aetna misses the March 20, 2025 completion date. Meanwhile, the department is still soliciting bids for the roughly $368 million contract to rebuild a new bridge by August 2026.

Final bids were due July 3.

Aetna had previously worked on the now-canceled $78 million rehabilitation of the Washington Bridge as part of a design-build team led by Barletta Heavy Division. The project came to a stop after engineers last December discovered broken anchor rods that put the westbound lanes of I-195 at risk of collapse.

The company was also one of 12 contractors that received a letter from lawyers for Gov. Dan McKee’s administration notifying them that they may be sued over Washington Bridge work.

“Aetna Bridge Company is proud to be identified as the ‘apparent best value respondent’ by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation,” Aetna spokesperson Frank McMahon said in an emailed statement.

“With over 79 years of experience in bridge construction, repair, and demolition, our team is ready to get to work on this critical transportation infrastructure project for the State of Rhode Island,” he continued

Aetna is also working on the ongoing rehabilitation of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge linking New London and Groton, Connecticut, via I-95. That project is expected to be completed June 25, 2025, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation.


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