Photo Credit: Ben Jacobsen

The Illuminating Engineering Society recently honored the Pawtucket River Bridge with the 2014 Illumination Award of Merit. RIDOT engaged NCA to collaborate with Commonwealth Engineers & Consultants, Inc., Ventrone Architecture, Abernathy Lighting Design and the Pawtucket Mayor’s Bridge Design Committee to develop a new design for Interstate 95 Bridge Number 550.

NCA’s design challenge was not to create a linkage over a relatively narrow New England waterway but to convey the series of extraordinary events that for centuries converged at this very spot.  From hand-hewn covered bridges to steel and concrete marvels, Rhode Islanders have long expressed pride in bridges and regard them as iconic structures.

The project entailed replacing three separate structures with a bridge to carry I-95 Northbound; a bridge to carry I-95 Southbound; and a bridge for the on and off ramps to George and School Streets. Inspiration for the bridge’s Art Deco design came from other structures in Pawtucket built during the Great Depression, such as City Hall, McCoy Stadium and Shea High School. The new bridge’s four pillars feature representations of Art Deco wings on the eagles chiseled atop the tower at City Hall.  Seen from the river, the bridge, made of metalized steel and illuminated at night with colored LED (light-emitting diode) lighting, displays a graceful silvery arch over the Pawtucket River. The project cost $80 million and was completed in 2013.