The Washington Bridge (Rhode Island Bridge No. 200) is an approximately 2,500' long, multiple span, reinforced concrete structure spanning the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence, Rhode Island. It was constructed between 1928 and 1930 to replace an outmoded 1885 steel truss swing span bridge. It is a major work of early-twentieth-century Rhode Island transportation planning. Preliminary studies began in the early 1920s. The scope of the project, which was financed through the sale of bonds, required the formation of a special Washington Bridge Commission in 1923 to oversee planning and construction. The bridge was completed in 1930 and officially dedicated September 25, 1930. The bridge was an important component of Rhode Island's early attempts to accommodate the automobile age through highway infrastructure construction. When completed it served as a major connection between Providence and East Providence, and impacted land use and street patterns in both communities. The bridge eventually became a component ofInterstate Highway 195 between Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, and in 1968 a second bridge, Bridge 700 (Washington Bridge North), was constructed immediately north of the bridge to handle westbound traffic and the Washington Bridge was reconstructed to carry eastbound traffic only. The bridge is a major Rhode Island engineering work. The scale of the undertaking required outside expertise, and the state employed consulting engineer Clarence W. Hudson of New York, NY, to complete the engineering design. The prime contractor for the construction was Merritt-Chapman & Scott, also of New York City. The bridge is of open spandrel arch construction, an early-twentieth-century construction method noted for its economy of materials. It is one of three major open spandrel reinforced concrete arch bridges in the state, the others being the 1932 Stillwater Viaduct (Bridge No. 278) on Route 116 in Smithfield, and the Ashton Viaduct (Bridge No. 275) on Route 116 in Cumberland and in Lincoln, built 1934-1945. It is also a notable example ofa civic improvement embodying the "City Beautiful" movement in its Classical Revival style architectural treatment. New York architect Carl L. Otto designed the architectural treatment for the surfaces, towers, and decorations ofthe bridge to hide the raw concrete frame of this commemorative urban bridge. Author: Matthew A. Kierstead, Industrial Historian, PAL, Pawtucket, RI 02860
Scope and Contents: The records consist of one copy of the historic bridge documentation (text and photos on archival quality materials) prepared by Public Archaeology Lab, Inc. (PAL) for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation replacement of Washington Bridge No. 200 project. The replacement of the bridge project was found to have an adverse effect on the Washington Bridge No. 200, an historic property that was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.