PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Transportation officials in Rhode Island say there is no easy solution to the closure of a highway exit in Providence for repairs that has caused massive traffic backups in recent weeks.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation started work this week on the Washington Bridge, which carries the highway between Providence and East Providence. The work forced the agency to shut down the westbound Gano Street exit and the right two lanes for the next 18 months.

Agency Director Peter Alviti says the agency is working on strategies to alleviate traffic backups, but says there will traffic no matter what.

Possible strategies include widening travel lanes, but that would extend the duration of the construction project which is already planned to last through 2019.