Mount Hope Bridge blue map, 1929

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Mount Hope Bridge blue map, 1929


Image of a map of the Mount Hope Bridge that connects Bristol and Portsmouth.

The Mount Hope Bridge is a two-lane suspension bridge spanning the Mount Hope Bay in eastern Rhode Island, at one of the narrowest gaps in Narragansett Bay. The bridge connects the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth and Bristol, and is part of Route 114. Its towers are 285 feet (87 m) tall, the length of the main span is 1,200 feet (366 m) and it offers 135 feet (41 m) of clearance over high water. The total length of the bridge is 6,130 feet (1,868 m).

Before the bridge was built, a ferry operated between Bristol and Portsmouth. The 1855 Bristol Ferry Light still remains at the base of the bridge. The Mount Hope Bridge was originally proposed in 1920. After a few years of resistance from the Rhode Island General Assembly, and with the influence of state senator and successful business leader, William Henry Vanderbilt III, the New Hope Bridge Company was incorporated in 1927. Using a design by Robinson & Steinman, construction began on December 1, 1927.

Four months before it was to open, serious structural problems were discovered, forcing the contractor to disassemble and reassemble portions of the bridge.

On October 24, 1929, Vanderbilt gave the opening address at the dedication ceremony where a radio link with Washington, D.C. was set up. The $5,000,000 bridge was opened to traffic and five days later the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred. It was owned by the Mount Hope Bridge Company as a private toll bridge, with the initial toll costing 60 cents one way, and $1 for a round-trip. By 1931, the Bridge company went bankrupt, and Rudolf F. Haffenreffer, a prominent local brewer, acquired the bridge in receivership.

It remained the longest suspension bridge in New England for 40 years, until the Claiborne Pell Bridge opened a few miles to the south in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1971, the Mount Hope Bridge was considered for inclusion as part of the never-built Interstate 895. This plan would have required the construction of a parallel span, and the entire I-895 plan was eventually dropped due to community opposition throughout the affected areas of Rhode Island.

The Mount Hope Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

It underwent more than $15 million in renovations between 1998 and 2004.

Bicycles are permitted on this bridge, but bicyclists are advised to use extreme caution. The bridge also has narrow sidewalks on both sides, but pedestrians are strictly prohibited from using the bridge.

The bridge is in close proximity to the East Bay Bikeway, which runs from Providence, RI to Bristol, RI. The bridge itself is demarcated as a continuation of that state bike route by the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, although it does not contain a bicycle lane or separate bike route. Signs have been posted on the bridge urging motorists to "share the road". A full, off-road bike route will be completed in an estimate of three years, which will cross the bridge from the current terminus of the bike path in Bristol, RI and continue on the other side through the full length of Aquidneck Island to Newport, RI.

In 1954, with the company in receivership, the Mount Hope Bridge was purchased by the State of Rhode Island. The bridge's toll was eventually reduced from 60 cents to 30 cents for a one-way trip. It was finally discontinued in 1998, after calculations indicated that the toll was not high enough to cover the cost of collecting it.

Source: Mount Hope Bridge-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See also:
Mount Hope Bridge Authority papers, 1954-1965

Report of the Mount Hope Toll Bridge Commission of the State of Rhode Island, 1926

Report on Estimated Traffic and Revenue for the Mount Hope Bridge and the Proposed Narragansett Bay Bridge, 1964

Turnpike and Bridge Authority photographs, clippings and drawings, 1929-c. 1990




Rhode Island State Archives




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Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, "Mount Hope Bridge blue map, 1929," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #519, (accessed November 21, 2018).