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WEB EXCLUSIVE: More information released about local bridges

April 19, 2011

NORTH KINGSTOWN – In last week’s Standard-Times, it was reported that two bridges in town had been identi-fied as “structurally deficient” by the Transportation for America.
Though the classifications haven’t changed, more information has been released as why the bridges were ranked that way.
The two that were classified were the bridge on Tower Hill Road that crosses Route 138 and the historic C.L. Hus-sey Bridge on Boston Neck Road which crosses Wickford Cove.
According to Charles St. Martin from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), the Tower Hill Road bridge, which was built in 1969 and averages about 41,200 cars per day, has issues with two steel beams. Sometime ago, a truck was involved in a hit and run, which resulted in the beams being bent.
“It was inspected this past November and that’s when we noticed the damage. We’ll have a repair contract fina-lized this year. Once the beams are replaced then it will come off the list.”
Highway bridges are made up of three components:
* Superstructure which supports the deck,
* Substructure, which uses the ground to support the superstructure; and
* Deck, which is the top surface of the bridge that cars, trucks and people cross.
Keeping that in mind, when bridges are inspected, each of those components is rated between zero and nine, with nine being in the best condition. For a bridge to get the classification of “structurally deficient”, one of those three components is rated at a four or below, which means engineers have indentified a “major defect in its support struc-ture or its deck.” The bridge will then have to under maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement.
The Tower Hill Road bridge received a deck rating of six, superstructure rating of a four and a sub structure rating of a five.
As for the Hussey Bridge, the design work for the improvements have begun and the main goal is the keep the his-torical look and value of it as best they can.
“We’re still about a year away before any work begins, which will include rehabbing the railing, replacing some of the concrete, painting and some steel work,” said Martin.
The only issue he sees is even after all the repairs and improvements are complete, because it’s a historical bridge, it may not come off the “structurally deficient” list. But that’s something, Martin said, is too early to tell.
“I want to assure motorists that these bridges are safe to travel on. If felt they were to pose any danger to motorists, they would be closed.”

For a complete listing of the bridge conditions visit

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