Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ashton Viaduct, Cumberland-Lincoln, RI

The Ashton Viaduct crossing the Blackstone River
Usually a bridge like this has a lot of history behind it, but I can't even get a definite idea of its name. Some places call it the Ashton Bridge, some the Ashton Viaduct. I imagine it was associated with the nearby (like, if I turn to my right 90 degrees, it's right there) Ashton Village, which was once a thriving mill, so it must be at least a hundred years old, but... no information on how old it is.

I was biking on the Blackstone Valley Bikeway which stretches from Worcester, Massachusetts through to Cumberland, Rhode Island. I was just wanting to see how far I could get, maybe to where I grew up near Uxbridge, Mass., before we moved to New Hampshire. The Blackstone Valley was home.

Yeah, I knew the viaduct would be along the way, but still. I didn't come just for the bridge. Honestly.

The Ashton Mill
Told ya the mill was close.

Viaduct & bike bridge
The Ashton Viaduct is a five span open spandrel arch bridge crossing the Blackstone River, a river once called the most polluted river in the country with respect to toxic sediments, being used as it was as the industrial toilet for mills and factories from Worcester to Woonsocket. It is today still filled with pollutants. In that it shares a fate with the Housatonic River here in Connecticut -- enjoy at your own risk.

Neither river is likely to ever fully recover.

Not the Albion Bridge
Further along the bikeway, I found a pony truss bridge crossing the river. It looked in great condition, better than I'd ever seen one from the age of iron bridges. It didn't look to be one of the Berlin Iron Bridge Company's bridges -- most of theirs are lenticular.

Boston Bridge Works Builders
These bridges were built by the Boston Bridge Works... at least originally.

Turns out that Rhode Island  replaced the bridge, then bolted on parts of the old bridge so it would keep some of its old character. According to the contractor, Gordon R. Archibald Inc Civil Engineering,
To maintain the historic value of this river crossing, Gordon R. Archibald, Inc. developed the innovative concept of 'aesthetic rehabilitation.' Under this concept, the trusses were refurbished and placed astride a new, two-dimensional steel grid superstructure. The steel grid carries all of the new superstructure and vehicular loadings, leaving the trusses to carry only the weight of and loadings on the sidewalks. In this way, the reconstructed bridge can carry contemporary traffic loadings, while its 19th-century visual quality is preserved for future generations.
So I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess it's good that they didn't just replace it with a slab of steel and concrete. They replaced it with a slab of steel and concrete and then put it in a dress.

1 comment:

  1. If you go to the Kelly House, a historical property under the Ashton Viaduct, you'll find a history of the bridge and some cool photos of its construction, which began around 1935, was stopped due to lack of money - the Depression - and completed during the next decade. It got renamed the Joseph A. Russo Memorial Bridge,after an engineer who supervised construction for the Ashton Viaduct[and is also named RIDOT Bridge No. 275.] See I hope this is useful,