Interstate 195 begins at Interstate 95 at a semi-directional T interchange, known as the Iway Project. The road begins concurrent with US 6. From there it continues across the Providence River via the Providence River Bridge where it picks up US 44 and US Route 1A. The road continues into East Providence and all three roads respectively leave the freeway. From there it enters Seekonk, Massachusetts. From there the road continues east to Fall River where it has a brief concurrency with MA 24. It then continues through Southeastern Massachusetts passing through New Bedford where it has an interchange with MA 140. From there it turns northeast and ends at Interstate 495 and MA 25 with a trumpet interchange.
Predating I-195 were two sections of road - Fox Point Boulevard and the Washington Bridge. The Washington Bridge, crossing the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence, was opened on September 25, 1930, replacing an 1885 swing bridge with a higher bascule bridge. A new eastbound bridge opened in November 1968.
Fox Point Boulevard, later George M. Cohan Boulevard, was a surface boulevard connecting the Washington Bridge west to the Point Street Bridge and downtown Providence. It was built with no cross traffic by using U-turn ramps in the median to reverse direction. This was the last part in Providence to be built as a freeway, opened in December 1968.
The first freeway section came off the west end of Cohan Boulevard and over the Providence River, ending at the one-way pair of Pine Street and Friendship Street, which opened in November 1958. The ramp to Pine Street has been closed, but the entrance from Friendship Street still exists. The I-95 interchange at this end opened in fall 1964; the Pine Street ramp was kept for a while.
The next section to be constructed was the part in East Providence. It opened to the last exit before the state line on December 15, 1959, and was extended into Massachusetts by August 1960.
Before the Interstate Highway System numbering was decided upon, I-195 was planned as a relocation of US 6; in fact, all but the last section were signed as US 6 when built (the first section only eastbound though). In 1957, the number Interstate 95E was assigned, as all intercity routes were numbered before the three-digit Interstate numbering was chosen, and the Providence-New Bedford route was too long to be considered intracity. The I-195 designation was assigned in 1959 with the final numbering. At some time after 1976, the definition of I-195 was extended east to I-495 (which was itself extended).
I-195 still carries US 6, now in both directions, from I-95 to the last interchange before Massachusetts. It also carries US 1A and US 44 over the Washington Bridge and its approaches, though the former has almost no signs.
Until around 1990, the US 6 freeway from RI 10 at Olneyville west to I-295 was signed as RI 195.