Jamestown Bridge Demolition

The Jamestown Bridge was closed in 1992 when the newly constructed Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge opened 400 feet to the north. The closure, demolition, and disposal of the Jamestown Bridge had to meet state and federal environmental requirements for cultural resources.

Designed by the noted engineering firm Parsons, Klapp, Brinckerhoff and Douglass, the Jamestown Bridge was completed in 1940 on an accelerated 18-month schedule. At 6,892 feet long, it was the state’s second-longest bridge and incorporated 69 spans, including a massive continuous cantilever Warren truss and center span rising 135 feet above Narragansett Bay.

Process

  • PAL conducted architectural and archaeological surveys within the project area of potential effect for the Environmental Impact Statement prepared under National Environmental Policy Act and the Section 4(f) and Section 106 reviews. PAL attended public meetings and participated in the consultation with the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Office that resulted in a Memorandum of Agreement detailing activities required to mitigate the adverse effects.
  • PAL implemented mitigation including a state-level narrative documentation and archival photography undertaken in 2001 to provide a permanent record of the bridge. Phase I marine archaeological investigations, using archival research and instrumentation field surveys to assess historic and Native American archaeological sensitivity and identify shipwreck sites, were completed at locations in Narragansett Bay where concrete would be disposed to insure that artificial reef development would not affect potentially important submerged cultural resources.

Results

During the 18-month demolition process, PAL staff photographed and documented the dismantling of the superstructure, blast preparations and detonations, concrete and steel removal, concrete placement at reef sites, and final clean up.

In June 2007, PAL opened the exhibit Jamestown Bridge 1940-2007, Concept to Demolition at the Jamestown Historical Society with bridge artifacts and 10 large panels incorporating narrative and dramatic color and black-and-white photographs illustrating the history of the bridge and its demolition and disposal. The exhibit traveled throughout Rhode Island through 2008.

PAL collaborated with the Jamestown Historical Society on their companion publication of the same title, updated from a 1990 book, The Jamestown Bridge, 1940-1990, From “The Bridge to Nowhere” to Obsolescence.

Client Name: 
Rhode Island Department of Transportation (Gordon R. Archibald Engineers, Inc.)
Project Name: 
Jamestown Bridge Demolition
Project Date: 
1998 to 2008
Project Location: 
Jamestown and Newport over Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island