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Crook Point Bascule Bridge

Crook Point Bascule Bridge
A bridge with a raised section
The abandoned bridge in 2016
Coordinates41°49′26″N 71°23′06″W / 41.82379°N 71.38497°W / 41.82379; -71.38497
CarriesNew York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
CrossesSeekonk River
Localebetween Providence and East Providence
Other name(s)Seekonk River Drawbridge
OwnerRIDOT
Characteristics
Designbascule bridge
MaterialSteel
Total length850 feet (260 m)
Longest span125 feet (38 m)
Rail characteristics
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrifiedOverhead line600 V DC (electrified 1900-1934)
History
DesignerScherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company
Opened1908
Closed1976
Location
Map

The Crook Point Bascule Bridge (or the Seekonk River Drawbridge) is a defunct Scherzer rolling lift railway bridge which spans the Seekonk River, connecting the city of Providence, Rhode Island, to the city of East Providence. Stuck in the open position since its abandonment in 1976, it is known to nearby residents as the "Stuck-Up Bridge" and has become somewhat of a local icon of urban decay.[1]

History

Postcard view of the then-new bridge

Part of the East Side Railroad Tunnel project, the Crook Point Bascule Bridge was built in 1908 to provide a direct connection between Providence Union Station and New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad lines on the East Providence side of the Seekonk River. The span connected the Bristol Secondary, Fall River Branch, East Providence Branch, and the East Junction Branch with the East Side Rail Tunnel. It was designed by Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company of Chicago and measures 850 feet (260 m) across, raises to a 64 degree angle, and opens a clear waterway 125 feet (38 m) wide.[2] From 1908 to 1934, the bridge was electrified with a 600-Volt DC overhead trolley system to accommodate electric train service between Providence and Bristol.[3]

The Crook Point Bridge transferred ownership to NYNH&H successor Penn Central in 1969. Due to declining railroad usage, plans were drafted to demolish Union Station in 1970; during this time, PC requested ICC permission to abandon the East-Side access line due to low freight demand. Conrail inherited the Bristol Secondary from the now-bankrupt PC in 1976, and further attempts were made to rail-bank the right-of-way. The newly independent Providence and Worcester Railroad assumed operations of the East-Side access line and the Bristol Secondary; however, the entire line from East Providence to Bristol was abandoned by 1976.[4] The Crook Point Bascule bridge and the East Side Tunnel were subsequently abandoned that same year, with the bridge fixed in its current open position to allow river transit.

Decay

Since its abandonment, the bridge has been a target of graffiti, vandalism, and artistic and archaeological interest. The western entrance to the bridge is easily accessible from a paved bike path off of an athletic field near the intersection of Gano and Williams streets. Some wooden components of the tracks have rotted or burnt away, and various electrical cables have been disconnected, but the metal structure remains largely intact, albeit rusted. This combination of factors attracts various types of visitors to venture out onto the tracks and even climb up the drawbridge, despite highly dangerous conditions. Students from nearby colleges have also produced photography projects, documentaries, and studies featuring the bridge. One study by a Brown University archaeology student suggests that the bridge has functioned as a center of athletic initiation, punk counterculture gathering, and even suicide since 1976.[5]

Future

View across the bridge in 2017

In 2003, Brown graduate Robert Manchester proposed a $30-million plan calling for the development of Crook Point, which includes the eastern landing of the bridge. Featured in his proposal were plans to reopen the bridge and tunnel as a light rail system, bringing commuters from East Providence to Thayer Street and downtown Providence.[6]

In May 2006, Mayor David Cicilline organized Transit 2020, an advisory group determined to find alternative transit solutions for Providence in order to overcome some limitations of RIPTA, on which it depends heavily. Included in Transit 2020's first report was an analysis describing the East Side Railroad Tunnel and Seekonk River Bridge line as a potential corridor for a light rail or bus rapid transit system.[7]

In 2018, Rhode Island Department of Transportation indicated plans to demolish the bridge in 2026–2027. In 2019, the city offered to take ownership of the bridge to prevent demolition.[8] The city held a design contest for reuse of the bridge; the winning proposal, announced in June 2021, would turn the trestle sections of the bridge into a public park.[9] On June 29, 2021, the bascule span was damaged by a fire of unknown origin.[10] A RIDOT inspection in July found that the steel structure was not damaged, allowing plans to transfer ownership to the city to move forward.[11] Despite this, by mid-2022 all plans to convert the bridge into a park have since been indefinitely postponed or canceled.[12] There are no current plans to redevelop or demolish the bridge.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Crook Point Bascule Bridge". Rhode Island Art In Ruins
  2. ^ Scherzer, Albert H. Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridges. 1908. Chicago: Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Co. of Chicago
  3. ^ "The Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad - Abandoned Rails". www.abandonedrails.com. Retrieved 2023-06-11.
  4. ^ Karr, Ronald Dale (2017). The Rail Lines of Southern New England (2nd ed.). Pepperell, Massachusetts: Branch Line Press. pp. 165–169, 175–183. ISBN 978-0-942147-12-4. OCLC 1038017689.
  5. ^ Doyle, James. "...Because It's There: Urbanism in the Archaeological Record". 17 Dec 2007 [1]
  6. ^ Dujardin, Richard. "Visions of a new East Providence waterfront". 13 July 2003 [2]
  7. ^ ""Growing Smart with Transit." Transit 2020 Working Group. 2007. Pg. 11" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  8. ^ Anderson, Patrick (July 30, 2019). "R.I. puts Providence's distinctive drawbridge down for demolition". Providence Journal.
  9. ^ Amaral, Brian (June 2, 2021). "'That bridge is Providence': City unveils winner of Crook Point redesign contest". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  10. ^ Doiron, Sarah (June 30, 2021). "Fire ignites Providence's Crook Point Bridge". WPRI. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  11. ^ DaSilva, Melanie (July 8, 2021). "Crook Point Bridge deemed structurally sound after fire, plans to preserve it can move forward". WPRI. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  12. ^ Richard, Barry. "The Future of Rhode Island's Landmark Crook Point Bascule Bridge Remains Uncertain". 1420 WBSM. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
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Crook Point Bascule Bridge
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