Rhode Island’s Washington Bridge Bike Path and Linear Park Project was recently named a 2016 Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). The project is being honored with APWA’s Project of the Year award in Historical Restoration/Preservation category at a cost between $5 - $25 million. This award honors agencies that include historical restoration, preservation and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, structures, and facilities.

For 2016, the team of winners includes the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, as the managing agency; Cardi Corporation, as the primary contractor; and VHB as the primary consultant; who will be presented with the award during APWA’s 2016 PWX Conference Awards Ceremony in Minneapolis, MN during August 28-31, 2016.

The APWA Public Works Projects of the Year awards are presented annually to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works projects, recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, contractor, consultant and their cooperative achievements. This year, APWA selected projects in five categories in the Small Cities/Rural Communities area: Disaster/Emergency, Environment, Historical Restoration, Structures, and Transportation.

The Washington Bridge Bike Path and Linear Park, an 1800-foot-long arch structure over the Seekonk River, had served as a city bridge with a movable bascule span that was constructed in response to increasing population and industry on both sides of the river. The fifth of seven bridges in the area named for the country’s first president, the Washington Bridge replaced bridges that were constructed in 1795, 1810, 1820, and 1885, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The bridge is a vital structure needed to improve and expand Rhode Island’s roadway infrastructure, serving as an important local example of an open arch bridge with many granite architectural features.

With the nation’s transportation needs came the construction of I-195 in the 1970s, which connected Providence and I-95 to Massachusetts’ southern port cities. By the 1990s, wear and deterioration required significant repairs and rehabilitations to the structure. With the completion of the recent construction, the bridge now serves as a multi-use path and linear park preserving the landmark for future generations. The rehabilitated, repurposed structure is anticipated to attract both recreational users and non-motorized commuters, connecting the Providence and East Providence bike route networks.

Heavy traffic volume necessitated that the eastbound bridge replacement project be constructed without a reduction in the number of highway lanes. To avoid purchasing right-of-way, the replacement bridge was realigned using a 45-foot wide, vacant area between Bridge 200 eastbound and Bridge 700 westbound, which allowed phased construction of a completely new eastbound bridge.

American Public Works Association (APWA)

The new construction required the removal of four of the six arch ribs. Keeping two of the arch ribs fulfilled a historical mitigation agreement. The memorandum of agreement between FHWA, RIDOT and the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Office required the 1930 bridge to be historically documented, and the southerly façade preserved. The project’s design preserved and retained two concrete arch ribs to support an independent bikeway and pedestrian path. The unique project also preserved the operator’s rooms/house exterior, and modified the structure to include an overlook plaza span above the navigable channel to feature the operator’s rooms/house, and landscape planters incorporating salvaged granite from the demolished portion of the bridge.

As an important transportation link for 85 years, the bridge has been modified to meet the transportation needs of the region. Preserved and restored to highlight significant architectural elements, the bridge will provide a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. The linear park will encourage users to enjoy the classic features and surrounding views for many years to come.

For more information on the APWA 2016 Projects of the Year, please contact APWA Media Relations and Communications Manager, Laura Bynum, lbynum@apwa.net, or call 202.218.6736.

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