The rusty bridge of Providence could light up the night sky
PROVIDENCE – The rusty railroad bridge frozen in midair over the Seekonk River would glow with colorful LED lights in the design chosen by the city to reuse the decrepit structure.
An 11-member jury chose the design by Horsely Witten Group and Jonathan Harris from four other finalists in a competition to generate ideas for turning the 113-year-old Crook Point Bascule railroad bridge into a public park.
The vote was close.
According to Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office, the Horsely Witten design received 17 points, one more than the two finalists, who both scored 16 points using a ranked ballot. (Each vote for first place was worth three points, second place two points, and third place one point.)
In addition to the lights on the bridge, the winning design includes parks on both sides of the river, an enclosure at the mouth of the East Side rail tunnel, and a canal crossed by mini bridges on the east bank.
The winning plan doesn’t reconnect the bridge and doesn’t allow people to do it across the river like two of the other proposals would.
This simplicity, likely to make it a lot cheaper, was a main selling point.
“One of the things people were drawn to was that it seemed relatively easy to do, good reuse of infrastructure while others built new infrastructure,” said the director of urban planning. , Bonnie Nickerson. “Also the technique of showcasing the bridge itself as a sculptural element and using light to celebrate the bridge.”
The Horsely Witten plan shows the LED lights laid out on the bridge like railroad ties and says they would change color and respond to “movement of people walking to the end of the pier and encouraging engagement and play. “.
With the selection of the Horsely Witten concept, the city will now try to determine what is doable, how much it will cost and where to find the money to pay for it, and then begin detailed design work.
The first step will be to persuade the state Department of Transportation to hand over ownership of the bridge to the city.
Nickerson said meetings with the DOT have already started and are heading towards a transfer.
The State DOT’s decision to earmark $ 6 million for the demolition of the bridge a few years ago kicked off the Elorza administration’s efforts to save it, starting with the help of design.
“It’s a space that has been neglected and almost abandoned, except for the use of some people who have managed to get through the fence and still gain access to the bridge over the years,” Mayor Jorge said. Elorza at a press conference to announce the winner of the design competition on Wednesday morning. “It is a place that has not been inviting for the community.”
None of the designs in the competition included cost estimates, and Nickerson on Wednesday said she didn’t want to try and guess the cost until she learned more about the structural integrity of the bridge, which has been locked upright since 1976.
All entries for the competition were asked to maintain a clearance of 42 feet above the navigation channel in the river (a current Coast Guard requirement), so both designs that crossed the river included new large spans.
Although most of the east shore of the Seekonk is in East Providence, the triangular Crook Point itself at the foot of the bridge is in Providence. Further inland in East Providence, the Horsely Witten plan suggests a place to build new apartments.
Back on the West Bank, the winning design includes a walk along the river, a landing stage, and extensive plantings and rest areas extending all the way to Gano Street.
Before permanent work on the bridge began, Nickerson said on Wednesday the city was considering the possibility of temporary lighting on the bridge to give residents an idea of what to expect.
On Twitter: @PatrickAnderso_