Business and Commerce Growth,  Economic Benefits of Transportation,  Rhode Island

Reconnecting Commerce by Reopening Rhode Island’s Oldest Documented Masonry Bridge

In January 2019, several months ahead of schedule, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) reopened the Slatersville Stone Arch Bridge carrying Route 5 (Providence Pike) over the Branch River in North Smithfield. The State’s oldest documented masonry bridge dating back to 1855, the bridge is located within the Slatersville Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Reopening the bridge helped reconnect commerce as the bridge has been the main commercial route into this small town for a hundred years.

During its rehabilitation, RIDOT labored to maintain bridge access for the community, while preserving a unique piece of history in the Blackstone Valley region of the State.  Although the work included two bridge closure periods with detours, the Town of North Smithfield was grateful for the State’s efforts to restore normal traffic on a bridge that had seen deterioration beyond what everyone thought was a point of no return.

The $13.5 million project addressed the structural rehabilitation of the bridge and historic preservation efforts, including rebuilding the historic stone walls on either side of the arch to mirror their original state. Behind the arch and on top of it, modern materials including precast concrete components were used to rehabilitate the bridge to meet today’s standards. All to ensure both safety and longevity while preserving the bridge’s historic features. The project also included repaving the roadway and building new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant sidewalks and railings that extend up the hill from the bridge, linking it to the center of the village and an existing memorial park.

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