Bright lights distinguish winning bridge design

The long-unused Crook Point railroad bridge over the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A winning proposal in a competition to revive an abandoned railroad bridge stuck in the “up” position over the Seekonk River would use bright, LED lights to make the Crook Point Bascule Bridge a nighttime draw.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on Wednesday named the design by Providence – based engineering firm Horsley Witten Group and Jonathan Harris, Johnson & Wales professor of design, as the winner of a competition that drew nearly 80 entrants from the U.S. and other countries.

Among the criteria in the request for proposals, was that the design include an anti-racism component, which Elorza said would be important to city residents of varying backgrounds.

“You know, whatever ethnic background, racial background, wherever they come from, that this feels like a place where they want to be,” said Elorza. “Where they’re invited, they’re a part of and this is home.”

The design team took the project to heart, because the members are all from Providence or live in the city, and the bridge is a local icon, said spokeswoman Ellen Biegert.

“Everyone knows about it and is excited about it, and I think highlighting that is something that the community and neighborhood would be excited about also,” said Biegert.

She said the design incorporates LED lighting in place of the railroad ties, providing a colorful nighttime scene with colors that can be varied for different occasions.

The state, not the city owns the bridge, which is targeted for demolition, and several million dollars has already been earmarked to tear it down, said the city’s Director of Planning and Development, Bonnie Nickerson. She said it could be some time before the city could assume control of the span and surrounding properties, and then raise funds to realize the winning design.