The Pawtucket River Bridge recently earned a 2014 American Transportation Award from the American Association of State Highway and Travel Officials (AASHTO).

The Pawtucket River Bridge won the Under Budget Award.  “The America’s Transportation Awards competition showcases the outstanding, innovative and diverse range of transportation projects that are improving travel and the quality of life in America, even during a time of funding uncertainty,” said Mike Hancock, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials president and secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “We hope these awards not only give state DOTs recognition for their hard work and incredible results, but also highlight the need for stability as the Federal Highway Trust Fund continues its decline toward critical levels. These projects reflect a commitment to the nation’s future and the need for continued investment in the transportation systems all of us depend on.”

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. The project also earned the 2013 AIA RI Honor Award and the Illuminating Engineering Society 2014 Illumination Award of Merit.