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former Jamestown Bridge

reason for demolition

The entire old Jamestown Bridge was torn down and turned into aquatic reefs or recycled. The state Department of Transportation has canceled plans to turn one-third of the 66-year-old bridge into a fishing pier on the North Kingstown side because of structural problems. Concrete has fallen off the columns to the point where the reinforcing steel is visible, the deck was beginning to crumble and some of the steel was starting to deteriorate.

The DOT has also changed it's plans on what to do with the 6,000 tons of steel and 38,000 cubic yards of concrete when it dismantles the bridge. The DOT had originally proposed dumping the steel and concrete bridge spans in five offshore locations to create artificial reefs. Now, the DOT says it will deposit only the concrete portions in two locations – Block Island Hole and Rhode Island Sound – for reefs and will recycle the steel. The reefs will provide long-term recreational and economic benefits for fisherman and divers, according to the DOT. Concerns about lead paint on the steel contaminating the Bay prompted the change, according to the impact statement.

The reef and recycling plan will cost between $16 and $20 million, with the state covering 20 percent and the Federal Highway Administration covering 80 percent of the cost, Parker said.

 

Some information excerpted from the Rhode Island Historic Resource Archive Documentation for the Jamestown Bridge, prepared by Virginia Adams and Matthew Kierstead, Industrial Historians, PAL, Pawtucket, RI. November, 2001.

Before the bridge, North Kingstown and Conanicut island were linked by a system of Ferries from the late seventeeth century up until the late nineteenth. In 1873 a steam-powered ferry was established between Jamestown and Newport, followed in 1888 by a steam ferry from Jamestown to Saunderstown in North Kingstown.

At 6,892 ft long it is Rhode Island’s second longest bridge. It incorporates 69 spans of varying design including a massive continuous cantilever Warren truss with a 600 ft wide center span 135 ft above the water. Planning for a bridge at this location began as early as 1920 and was spurred by the financial woes of the Newport Ferry Company. The noted bridge engineering firm Parsons, Klapp, Brinckerhoff and Douglass, which also designed the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Lift Bridge, won the engineering contract along with Waddell and Hardesty. The bridge was completed in 18 months on an accelerated schedule. In 1940 the bridge cost $3,002,218, almost $118,000 under budget. The bridge was important during World War II as a link between area military bases including the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport and the Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, as well as several coastal defense batteries.

At 12:00 on June 28, 1969, the last toll was collected on the bridge. The previous 30 years of collections had paid for the bridge, and the Jamestown Bridge Commision was dissolved. On the same day, the Newport bridge, the longest in RI, opened on the east side of the island. The bridge remained under the governance of the RIDOT from 1969 until 1992, when construction on the new bridge 400 feet to the north. Construction for the new bridge started in 1985 and was completed in October 1992. Maintenance on the old bridge ceased when the new bridge went into use.

The old Jamestown Bridge has been declared a hazard to navigation by the U.S. Coast Guard, and must be removed. Subsequently, on Friday, February 28, 2003, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the release of the officially titled, “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for the Jamestown Bridge Replacement Project.” RIDOT was in the design and permitting phase of a project to demolish and dispose of the old Jamestown Bridge. The purpose of the DSEIS was to evaluate the environmental impacts of bridge demolition activities and three potential methods of bridge disposal.

In accordance with the requirements set forth by the United States Coast Guard, the eastern two-thirds of the old bridge must now be removed. The western one-third of the structure will remain for conversion to a recreational fishing pier as mandated by Rhode Island State Law in 1997. According to the Sierra Club's Rhode Island newsletter the timeline for these plans has been adjusted to 2004/2005.

name withheld May 29 2012 We spent 3 summers in Wickford in 1941-1943, and made many trips over the old Jamestown Bridge in those summers. In 1943, I rode my bicycle over the bridge on several occasions. I can remember the grating over the main span as giving a definitely “hairy” ride on a bicycle.

Dennis L Rowe Oct 29 2011 In the mid-eighties I purchased a huge 1937 Buick Century in Jamestown. My very first trip across the bridge in my family car was unnerving enough, but the trip back driving this huge car that seemed to take every inch of the lane was a memory I will never forget. The steering on this old car was so sloppy that I was constantly twisting the steering wheel from side to side to try to drive straight! I was sure that I was either going to hit an oncoming car head on or break through the railing and fall to the bay. That old car and I had many misadventures along the years I owned it, but none that compared to that first terrifying drive. Crossing that bridge in any vehicle was thrilling and adventurous.

John W Peterson III Mar 22 2009 We lived on the island in the early 50s. My dad was the Cushman Bakery delivery man for the area and crossed the bridge both ways six days a week. I had a little beetle class sail boat and sailed under the island side many times. I also remember walking my columbia 4 star bicycle up quite a ways and riding down as fast as I could go. The trip was perilous in the winter and our 49 hudson slipped when the chains hit the deep icey slush combination. My dads truck was a new international walk in van and the wind would push us around on windy days. I rode with Dad on saturdays. We lived on Carr Lane. Great memories, RIP bridge!

Donna Hubert Jan 19, 2008 As a young girl my father and mother had friends who lived there and he was a life guard. We all learned to swim there. i do not remember his name but he did marry someone who was local. We use to stay at the big hotel right across from the water for some weeks. I have may fond memories of riding the ferry back and forth. I never got off at Newport. My grandmother would also take my sister and I down for a couple of weeks. I loved coming to Jamestown. I was a water nut and one thing that would always scare me was swimming by the big pole and seeing all thoses lobsters around the pole under the water. I would swim out to the raft and dive and swim. Then I loved climbing the rocks and would hunt for little crabs. Later on My parents moved us all to Narragansett and I lived there until I got married. I did have a chance to come back in the eighties, my mother died and when we were there I took my youngest daughter back to let her see where her mother spent many a summer. We ate lunch there and climbed the rocks. the life guard who taught us to swim was named Fred. He was very nice and friends of our family. I was born in providence, then moved to Warwick and then on to The Pier. I have now got grand children who Have seen Jamestown on the computor and have heard me tell them of my fun filled summers at Jamestown. My granfather helped build the orignal bridge which when I crossed it I had to pray.

Bob Sirico I had the privelege of being a “Rhode Islander” from 1965 to 1967 when I was stationed at the Davisville Seabee Base (connected to Quonset). We used to cross the Jamestown Bridge to catch the ferry to Newport Naval Hospital. The Newport Bridge was just under construction at that time, the towers were just being erected. Since I had grown up in Throgg’s Neck in the Bronx (NY) I had the rare privelege of seeing that being built, a sight which I partook of every single day! I would compare the Newport Bridge Construction with the Throggs Neck, and sort of “anticipated” what was to come next, being quite taken by the difference of proportion for each structure. Some of the other Seabees and I had the opportunity to cross the Jamestown Bridge early in the morning hours (I think it was in 1965). The road was desolate, and we had the chance to talk to the toll collector about the bridge. This good natured man patiently accepted our humor in his inimitable New England Way. He then “locked our jaws” when he told us the story about the hurricane in the ’40s where the bridge swayed so much that they …“thought they were going to lose it”.
   I have been building bridges for the last 40 years with Consulting Engineers and Contractors and the anecdotes written by the others on this page have touched my heart. I give great credit to the imaginative engineers, designers and detailers who turned raw steel into the beautiful structures such as the Jamestown and other bridges which capture our hearts and minds, and I am in awe of the research scientist / engineers who have developed the techniques we use today which have rendered the beautiful “riveted filigrees of steel” in our old bridges their rightful, respected place in history.
   If you love bridges and other civil structures, consider joining our industry! We need talented, imaginative people to both design and build the beautiful bridges that may someday captivate the hearts and minds of a future generation!

Tom R My first memories are having to go over that bridge every day in a school bus for Newport YMCA summer camp when I was about ten. I used to dread that part of the trip every single day. Later, for the rare “long trips” to Rocky Point (anything off Aquidneck Island is considered a “trip”) once I started driving in the late 80’s, I remember the white knuckles at the top, praying traffic wouldn’t stop. The one time traffic did stop, we were (of course) at the top and everyone was practically holding their breath. Even without the grates, the steep incline (which in memory is probably more steep than it really was) was scarey enough. By the early 90’s I was used to it and it was just narrow (like driving on East Main Road). Sure, the grates made you uneasy, but after you had a few trips under your belt it got easier. I almost forgot about the grates. That was until I got my motorcycle license and “forgot” about the grates until I was already on the bridge. Of course it was rush hour, and following cars showed no mercy. All the way up I was worried about how slippery it would be and if I would drop the bike and “cheese grate” myself. It wasn’t until I was on the grates (now going at about 5mph not caring about the cars behind me) that it was a view straight down as if nothing was under you. That was the closest I ever came to literally almost wetting myself. I went back through Providence that day and never went over on the motorcycle again.

Penny Hakanson Daniels I lived on Jamestown when I first learned to drive and the first time I had to drive over the Jamestown bridge I remember white knuckled hands clenching the steering wheel and sweating palms. You got used to it though. I lived on Jamestown for 4 years. It was a beautiful bridge (wonderful to walk over at night). My dad had a 38ft Pacemaker boat when I was a little girl and it was a huge deal for a kid to be out on deck when we went under the bridge and look up and see the cars driving over the bridge through the grate in the middle. We always wondered if the cars would fall through on us. It would give me the willies. Anyway. I’ll sure miss that bridge. You weren’t a real Rhode Islander unless you could drive over that high narrow wiggly Jamestown bridge like it was nothing.

Kevin Farrell On your page on the Jamestown Bridge it was stated that use was halted in 1992 which I believe is incorrect. I started college in Newport in Sept of 1993 and sometime after that I had the pleasure of going to school on the Jamestown Bridge and then coming home on the newly opened Jamestown Bridge.

charles messier my brother in law was so scared to drive across that bridge, that he would go through providence to get to his house in tiverton

Rich E. I am sad to see the old bridge go, it was so beautiful to look at when you drive over the new bridge. Im glad that my wife took many pictures of the old bridge last summer on our way to Newport. We now have a beautiful framed picture of the old bridge in our living room.

annamarie maxfield It was good to see the new and the old bridge standing side by side. The old Jamestown Bridge holds a lot of memories for me because my grandfather helped in the building of the bridge. I remember all of the good fishing off of the bridge an seeing it come down was a good thing. It has served its long purpose and now it was time for a new one. hopefully this one will bring those there the many wonderful memories that the old bridge has brought to me.

Terry Sutton I had only driven on the now demolished Jamestown Bridge back when I was in college. I remember how other people would say that they hated driving in it. Off all the bridges I had ever been on, this one was where I had to be the most cautious driving. Regarding the shaking, people tell me if I thought the Mt. Hope Bridge was rough, then I hadn’t drove the Jamestown bridge enough. Still the bridge was beautiful to look at, it was one of the things a URI student had to experience. When I go back to RI and see the Bay I feel the absence of not seeing the bridge there. It’s like part of my college days died.

bb I remember crossing that bridge as a teen and having my sisters close their eyes because it was so high. I also remember as clear as yesterday crossing it in the summer of 1990, my then-GF, now-wife asleep in the passenger seat of my car, and “Candy” by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson playing on the radio as we headed over for some breakfast on the way towards Cape Cod

Stacey Clarke
Oh Lord help me over this bridge
I get so nervous approaching the ridge.
The mesh at the top makes me so queasy
I forget the salt air is so cool and breezy.
Lord Jesus, I need you, please give me your hand
To get me back safely rolling on land!

peridot Where is the sign now? did someone get it?

melisse i believe that bridge is a sentimental idea

mike keating in the late eighties, i would often take all-night motorcycle rides on the highways of CT/MA/RI, when the traffic was light. i’d start out with no destination in mind and just go. on one occasion, i’d been out all night and ended up crossing the bridge around dawn. it had quite an effect on me, not expecting it. the emotional and visual experience has stuck in my mind ever since, and on two occasions i’ve had dreams that included the bridge. i intended to visit it again some day, but unfortunately, it’s too late now.

Beth I lived in Jamestown for about a year and the Jamestown bridge was still there, but there was another bridge beside it. The Jamestown bridge always had seaguls on it and somtimes people posted advertisments on it so when people drove by they could see it. Whenever we crossed the bridge I thought that it would colapse on us, but it never did. The bridge was all rusty and looked like it could collapse any minute. They kept telling us that they would blow it up, but they never did until now. It made me sad because I will always remeber that bridge as part of my child hood. Whenever we crossed the bridge that was the only thing I would watch because it was so cool.

Ed We used to call the grate at the top of the old Jamestown Bridge the “Cheese Grater”. We would imagine what it must have been like to fall off a motorcycle on the grate... road rash, by comparison, would only be a minor skin irritation.

Ray In the early 70s my father and I would deliver bread to the Jamestown Cumberland Farms and would drive over the bridge in his truck every day. I remember crossing the upper span and feeling the bridge sway when sitting in traffic on the main span. The feeling would bring butterflies to my stomach. I then moved to North Kingstown and lived in a house overlooking the bridge. 2 of my friends and I would walk the bridge incline towards the main span and climb over the railing to the maintainence cat walk. We would sit there over the water watching the lobster boats emptying their traps. I will never forget the bridge and what experiences I had with her.

Daniel Beaulieu The greatest experience I had with the bridge happened the first time I walked over it. When I got to the very crest, I stood on the curb, gazed at the water through the grates, which seemed to disappear when my eyes focused on the water. Then I jumped onto the grate (that my mind didn’t see) -– what a trip!

Teresa Sad to see the bridge go down. When I went to Salve and you got to the Jamestown bridge by a certain time you knew you would get across the island to make the ferry to Newport. Sometimes it was the last ferry. She was beautifully built with so much detail and character. I bid her a fond farewell.

Robin Reifsteck I was born in Massachusetts but moved to Arizona when I was 8. I have many fond memories of going over the Jamestown bridge. I can still see my parents in the front seat and the scene in front of my little eyes, straight up to the sky. I remember Dad saying he didn’t like driving over the bridge, but I loved it. Everytime we’d go back on vacation, that would be the highlight for me, driving across the Jamestown bridge. It was heartbreaking the last time I was there and the bridge was closed. Now, it’s like a death in the family with the destruction of this beautiful bridge. I’ll miss her. With her gone and the Old Man of the Mountain gone, there’s not much for me back there anymore.

Greg I only had the opportunity to cross this bridge once (I live in CT), but it made a big impression on me. It was my birthday in March of 1991, and my girlfriend Tricia Noddin and I drove to Newport in my ‘65 VW Beetle. I had never been to Newport before and wanted to go there to celebrate my birthday. As we crossed the bridge, I couldn’t believe how steep it was and how narrow the lanes were. Like some other people who have posted here, I am relatively afraid of heights, but the anxiety of crossing the bridge had an exhilerating effect. As we were crossing, a truck approached from the opposite direction, and even in my tiny Beetle we had to pull over till the tires were almost scraping the curb on the right. Feeling the wind make the bridge sway was certainly an experience, too. Over the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed seeing the old bridge alongside the new bridge as we would cross, and I was brought back to that trip. I wish I could have driven over it one more time before they took it down.

Mike Perry I had the unnerving experience of riding a motorcycle over the bridge in the early eighties. The grating at the top made you feel you were about to careen into oncoming traffic. I had been over the bridge several times with my parents in a car, which was somewhat scary, but nothing compared to that terrifying trip across on two wheels. So long Jamestown Bridge, I will never forget you.

Roger Caswell The bridge is an old landmark to me. My jack-of -all-trades father, John R. Caswell, worked on the bridge construction running the donkey engine. We would often go over it to the “country” to visit realtions or to pick up dynamite for the town highway department or to eat out at one of the fine establishments in East Greenwich. When my Navy pilot brother flew in, we would go to Quonset NAS to pick him up. Both I, my younger sister , and my mother commuted tover it o URI during the 60s and 70s. I drove, bicycled, hitchhiked, and walked the bridge many, many times. The grating was really squirrelly on a motorcycle. Probably the most memorable was walking over it one night about 1 am when the moon shone on the water far below.

RT A Marvel – Not an EYESORE – and the construction effort to complete it in 18 months and below cost is something to remember in recent times of cost and schedule overruns of just about every recently-conceived project. The bridge needed to go, because it was a navigation hazard and the cost of maintaining it would have been prohibitive and the money best spent elswhere. But an eyesore – no – if we had unlimited funds, we should take it down and rebuild it, piece-by-piece in some open space on land where everone could marvel at it. There never was and there never will be another one just like it.

Dave Beaulieu In 1966 my family moved to Jamestown from Fairhaven, MA. Dad just bought the old Hunt drugstore at the East Ferry Landing, which became Mr.B’s Hunts drug. My tenure in the USAF ended shortly after and I drove to the Island for the first time straight through from Little Rock Air Force Base. I was driving a (Motorhead) ‘53 Chevy that I had just put a V-8 engine in. I arrived at the Jamestown Bridge around 9 o’clock in the evening. I paid my toll, knew that I was on the last leg of my journey…That long, narrow, high bridge was like my “yellow brick road” or “stairway to heaven”; and there wasn’t a soul on the bridge. I went through the gears and flew up that thing. I remember hitting the peak ; losing sight of the road due to the steep incline, a weird zig zagging feeling, the growl of the tires on the grate and me just screaming “woah”. I exited the bridge on the Jamestown side feeling like I had just been on a really great rollercoaster ride. I might add, that all trips over the bridge since that night, that my speed was a little more reasonable.

AJM Wow, that was an amazing demolition today. It’s sad to see this bridge go, even though I’ve never ridden on it. My mom said she used to hate going overthe bridge because it used to cause the car to shake and swerve, and it made a loud “zuzuzuzuzu” noise.

Stacey Clark The “slippery when wet” sign and the metal gratings. The view at the top and the old and new bridge side by side. I married into Jamestown. So I missed the ferry trips, and “elsewhere” (the outhouse) but I think the bridge was enough. We would arrive for vacation, and I couldn’t go off the island, because I could not make myself drive across the bridge. Once I was out shopping with family, and Mom had to drive us across the bridge to get us home. I just couldn’t do it. I also had the “Jamestown Prayer” on my wall for years. I would get copies as gifts because people thought it was very appropriate for me. When we got to the top and the grating made the car shimmy, I thought I was going to die!

Kathryn V From 1985 to 1992, I visited Portsmouth to see my parents. In 1992, my husband was transferred to Newport, and I too got the opportunity to “white knuckle” my way across the bridge for many years. I had a sunroof in my car, and we joked that it was the “escape hatch” in case the bridge ever collapsed while we were going over it. I only ever had to back down once, and that was enough. Truthfully, the old bridge was among the scariest places I have ever driven. That includes rush hour in Dubai!

Maria Today I watched her demolition. Not only was I exhilerated by the awesome show, I was also deeply moved. Afterall, my first kiss was under that bridge. Although she needed to go, I’ll miss her odd beauty.

Gunnar Heinrich I recall as a kid being driven over the old Jamestown Bridge on several occasions – one of which was during a severe thunderstorm. I was sure our car would be struck by lightening, but mercifully it wasn’t. It’s been neat to see this large decaying monument to transportation for all the years since its closure. I’m sorry I won’t be there to see the demolition today (April 18).

Kimberlee Sweeney My mother was raised in Portsmouth and crossed the Jamestown bridge almost everyday of her life. Since most of our family lives in R.I., I was out there several times a year and grew to love that bridge, even when it was a bear in the winter covered in ice!

Carrie Anne Martin I remember calling this the HUMMING BRIDGE as a kid because of the grates. I used to look down and try to see the water through the grates at the top… Such Vertigo!!!! My father still lives in Jamestown, and my aunt has memories of watching them construct this bridge as a child. I am so pleased that the concrete will be used to create a reef, so that this piece of history will continue to provide new memories for the people of Rhode Island!

Kristin A. I remember going over the Jamestown Bridge and my brother and I would stick our heads out of the car when we went over the grates and look straight down, of course never knowing how dangerous that was, but what a memory. I will sincerely miss the Jamestown Bridge.

Tracey Hallman My family and I would travel over the bridge regularly when it was open. One of the novelties about the bridge was that my grandfather, Edgar Cormier, helped to build it. As a child, each time we when over, it was mentioned that “this is the bridge that Pepere helped to build!” Now I have children of my own and each time we drive by, my oldest son now says the same thing! I’ll never forget the sound of the grate as we crossed the top of the bridge and that terrifying, steep decent on the way down to Jamestown!

Yvette Cormier Doyle  My dad worked on the building of the bridge in the early 40’s. He told us stories about his work while we were growing up. I remember going over the bridge many times but the most memorable time was when he was driving the camper and at the top we met a cement truck coming from the opposite direction. I just sucked in my breath and prayed. It was a scarey bridge. He said he was going to be there to see the demolition. It will be emotional for him. Thanks for the memories, Pop.

Bob N During my childhood in Newport, when the Newport & Jamestown Ferry ran between Newport and Jamestown I can remember traffic being backed up from the ferry landing all the way back to and over the Jamestown bridge during one of the Newport Jazz Festivals. On our way back from a family vacation we sat in our car at the top of the Jamestown bridge for several hours while we waited for the the ferry. I remember looking out our car windows and seeing those scary grates in the top middle spans of the bridge. I clearly recall the uneasy feeling I had as I felt the bridge actually move in the wind. My sister and I sat mesmerized by the hight of the center span and by the motion of the bay below us for hours during that summer afternoon.

Steph I remember driving over the bridge during high school. My best friend Janetta and I would giggle in the backseat, and I remember the bridge swaying whenever a bus drove in the opposite direction. And later, once I got my license, I remember driving over the old bridge in a beat-up Impala. At least once, during stopped traffic, I\'d open the door and look down at the water; it seemed so magical to think how high above the water I was.

Kim Cooper I grew up in Middlebridge & my sister worked in Newport, so I would go to work with her, and remember going over the Old Jamestown Bridge every weekend, and it swayed as you went over the grates at the top. I remember getting my license & piling friends into the car heading over the Bridge scared to death, just so we could go to Fort Wetherall. The good Ole Days!!!!

sheekey It is like a antique car a rusty classic! sad to see it go… the little modern wonder!

Heather I grew up on Aquidneck Island and several times a year we’d drive over the bridge on the way to my grandparents in CT. Then I became a freshman at URI in the late 80’s and and crossed it several times a month, and several times a week during summer classes. Every time I’d look to the shore as I went over and think to myself only half jokingly, “could I swim from here if the bridge collapsed!?” It was a scary ride, especially in bad weather, but I considered it a Rhode Islander’s rite of passage for that time. With every successul crossing I had a feeling of “bridge master” mixed with a dash of lottery winner. And boy did I feel sorry for the tourists who had no idea what they had gotten themselves into! You can be sure I’ll tell my son about the “real” Jamestown Bridge when he’s old enough to appreciate a good legend.

Anne I remember walking from Plum Point Beach with friends and sitting in the shade of the bridge base. Lots of plans were made during those great years. Lots of memories will disappear with the bridge.

Stephen Greer I have never seen this bridge but there is a similar lift bridge here that will not be replaced. It is the Burlington-Bristol bridge and has been in continous operation isnce 1931. It has the metal grate in the middle that is pretty bad in the rain. Also it has 12 foot wide lanes that are too narrow for some vehicles.

BJ A longstanding family tradition began whenever we would cross the bridge with a dear friend, starting in the 1940s. While passing over the center grate of the bridge, the car tires would make a distinctive whirring sound, at which point, she would say out loud, “Hello Jamestown, hello Jamestown, hello Jamestown,” or (if we were leaving,) “Goodbye Jamestown, goodbye Jamestown, goodbye Jamestown” until the hum of tires went silent. It’s a tradition we taught our children, and until the bridge closed to traffic, the entire family would always chant our greetings in an enthusiastic chorus. Now, we’ll say it for the last time on the day that the bridge will fall into the bay. Goodbye dear bridge, goodbye dear bridge, goodbye dear bridge…

Sarah I never got a chance to drive over the bridge myself (it was decomissioned before I got my license) but whenever my parents drove my sister and I over the bridge, which was often since my grandparents live in Newport and we live in NK, we would hum along to the “airplane sound” in the backseat of the car. Our parents never told us how dangerous that bridge was, and ignorance is bliss. I’m trying my best to get out of class to see the demolition this Tuesday.

Cis I can remember the ratta tat of the tires across the grates and when we were pulling the horse trailer coming back from a show, the horse would dance around in the trailer in fear of the noise. (this was in the late 40’s early 50’s)

Scott Belanger Wow, a friend (Erick Braun) from NKHS Class of ‘84 set this link out in an email. I have lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1991, but this photo brought me back to my high school days. I lived in N.K., so going over the bridge usually meant my friends and I were up for a little mayhem. I had a chance to visit Jamestown a couple of years ago. I couldn’t believe how spent the bridge looked. I will always miss the character of South County and RI in general… but not the weather!

JJ Crossed the bridge regularly in the 70s and 80s commuting to job at the Bay campus and hauling kids to school. Even commuted by bike until the wind blew me off the sidewalk. In winter I would sometimes be the only car on the bridge, but the summer traffic caused many stops on top with the bridge shaking – was too ignorant to worry then. More scary were the winter trips up the “canyon” to route 1-A on the west end. Sad to see her go.

Pat am absolutely terrified of heights & bridges; when I first moved to RI in 1989 & needed to cross for the first time, my heart went into my throat, my pulse went on high alert, my hands clenched, my palms sweated and, upon final completion of my maiden voyage, I immediately turned off to the right, flung open my car door & lost my lunch. no word of a lie. Just reading these other anecdotes is making my pulse race & hands sweat! I do love sailing under it, though!

Dan Charboneau My sister had a friend who was always nervous about driving over the center grate because of the way it made the car swerve. So my sister told her “Don’t steer” presumably meaning don’t continuously correct your direction. So what does she do? She lets go of the steering wheel. Fortunately my sister’s scream makes her grab the wheel once again.

Dave B I remember I had gotten my drivers lisence just prior to the bridge closing. I actually had the opportunity to drive over it only once. On April 11 2006 the bridge will come down, weather permitting

Carol Wagner I remember waiting on top where the grates are in traffic and watching the water under the bridge. You could feel the bridge sway. And you just hoped that everyone stayed in their own lane. Also, if the winds were high, we would have to turn around and stay overnight at our friend’s until they opened the bridge again.

Doug How I will miss the Old Jamestown Bridge. The humid July sun and hitting that wall of cool ocean air at the western end as you approach the steady climb to the top of the world it seemed. The traffic delays, the sounds of metal straining, and to be stuck at the crest (the grating) was the true test of wills. Our campy old New England is starting to disappear before our eyes. Progress?

Dimitrios Karamanlidis  After the new bridge was opened to traffic, I crossed the old bridge many times as a part of my running route from my house in Saunderstown to Beaver Tail and back. I would go alone or with my good friend Ken A. Sometimes one of my daughters would go along on the bike. Going over the grid was the high point (no kidding). In recent years after the bridge was fenced off, I passed underneath many times while rowing from Jamestown to my house. It maybe a junk pile of concrete and steel but I’ll miss her.

Mike Maguire I remember as a young teenager in the 60’s being driven over this bridge on the way to the beaches in Little Compton. This was the highest structure I had ever been on and was quite frightened. In the early nineties, I took my first trip across the Newport Bridge, and even as a middle age man, having crossed many large bridges, I had the chills crossing it. I know I am afraid of heights, but it seems never more so than in Rhode Island!

David Fogg I am a fisherman who is lucky enough to have a boat. I go under the Western end of the Jamestown bridge almost every time I go out. I had thought that the State should leave this section up for fishermen. In the Summer of 2005, I went under the bridge at low tide with a Civil engineering friend. We saw first hand why the entire bridge must come down. it is really in very bad condition particularly under the water. Very dangerous. You should post some pictures of views from below so people understand how bad it really is. I will miss the old structure but it is obvious it must all come down.

Gerald Ruest Picture #14 of the skidding car warning sign at the top of the bridge is notable. When wet, the metal grate decking of the center span was very slippery. I remember many news articles documenting serious accidents and loss of life at this spot. The bridge was a wonderful link to Jamestown and beyond, but for those who didn’t heed the warning signs and exceeded the speed limit on foggy and rainy days it was often a portal to another world.

Annette Ragland Newbolt  The Jamestown Bridge holds many memories for me as a child, My Grandfather, John Ragland was a builder. My husband remembers going over the middle grating as a child, his father would say (put out your wings!) as they would cross the middle section so the air plane like noise the tires made would be fun rather than scarey. Would I love to get a section of it. Does anyone know how I could get one?

bobby giammarco i remember when i was a young lad, i didnt have a bridge to cross with a car. i swam back and forth every single day. there were no bridges, i remember when i got sick one day swimming to the island and my uncle bought me a can of soup. i lke soup. it was chicken soup. and i like chickens caz we wouldnt have food without them. speaking of chickens wen i was young i got this cool rock for a present. g2g its naptime.

Kit I remember using the bridge daily in the late 80’s and early 90’s to get to my home on Jamestown. The bridge was actually very steep compared with other bridges, and our Peugeot would break-down at the crest every time. I was relieved when the new bridge was constucted – it wasn’t as grand, but it felt much more secure.

Earl C. What a bridge! It sure beat the ferry. I traveled the bridge a few times in 43/44 to visit my father in the Navy Hospital in Newport. In a prior year, I also remember taking the ferry to Newport.

Joye I remember going to the beaches of Newport over the old Jamestown bridge with my mother when I was little. We would have to leave very early in the morning because we would be stuck in traffic for hours due to the one lane road.

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

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