NORTH KINGSTOWN – Since the demolishing of the old Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge in 2006, a 1,600 foot portion has remained intact on the North Kingstown side. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will soon begin to demolish that remaining piece.
RIDOT awarded a $961,000 contract to Reagan Construction Corporation of Middletown to remove the “trestle” portion of the old bridge. The section is the only piece of structure still standing from the 70 year-old bridge. The new bridge, located to the left of the old section, was opened in 1992.
According to Charles St. Martin from RIDOT, that section wasn’t demolished because there’s a law that requires RIDOT to retain a portion of the old bridge for conversion to a fishing pier. In 2008, that law was amended to direct RIDOT and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to develop public access. The new law didn’t include the language about keeping a part of the old bridge, which now allows RIDOT to demolish it.
“Also, in the intervening years, we reviewed the structural integrity of the remaining bridge section and determined that rehab would be very costly. Therefore, it was more prudent to spend that money on a new structure as opposed to upgrading the old one,” he said.
The first step in the demolition process will be to place several buoys around the section, which will prohibit boating around the area.
Details of how the section will be demolished are still being finalized, as well as a start time, but St. Martin said it’ll probably start around mid-November. Once demolition begins, it’ll take three months and conclude in the spring with minor site work, including drainage.
Unlike in 2006 when the new bridge was closed from 15 minutes to a couple of hours while the old bridge was taken down, this project isn’t expected to interfere with traffic.