Sunday, July 8, 2012

Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, Jamestown-Newport, RI

Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge from Naval Station Newport
I kinda suspected I'd find myself sneaking into the Navy base to get a picture of this bridge. This was the weekend of the America's Cup race in Narragansett Bay. I'd hoped that the America's Cup catamarans would be sailing up to and under this bridge, but the course went toward the Long Island Sound and not this way.

I still thought maybe I could get a picture of the boats with the bridge in the background, but after a few attempts at dealing with Sailing Week traffic, parking and tourists, I just gave up trying to fit the race into my pictures and went looking for the shot. Maps had shown that the best vantage point on Aquidneck Island would be from the naval base, and I didn't know their policy on letting tourists with no Navy business on base to take pictures.

So I parked a bit away and just walked on to the base (though not all the way to the guard station). Took the shots and left. But, damn. Those Navy folks sure like their boats.

Newport Bridge from Jamestown
The Pell Bridge is New England's longest suspension bridge. It has a Warren truss deck that rises up to 215 feet above Narragansett Bay. The two towers are an astonishing 400 feet high. You can see the towers of this bridge from the central rise of the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge, which is kinda cool.

The toll is a walloping $4.00 in each direction. Not all bad news, though. One of the best views of this bridge is from the tollbooth, where the road curves around a cove. There is a rocky beach that sits too low to get the good picture. You'd have to take it from the car. I did not expect the view and didn't have my phone taking pictures from the dash. I got the picture above on my way off the island, and it's just... okay.

Pell bridge towers
CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia
I also fell short on getting pictures of the cathedral-style towers as I crossed the bridge, so I am borrowing the shot from Wikipedia (with attribution!) just so I can point them out here. They utterly dwarf the traffic; I'd think they'd be happier if cars and trucks never sullied their pristine bridge.

It's hard to get a good picture of the bridge from some publicly accessible place. The east side of Conanicut(*) Island is probably the easiest place; there's lots of tourist and boating places. I just parked in a beachfront condo parking spot for the middle picture (actually a panorama of about a half dozen pictures). I parked in some marine supply shop's parking lot and walked into the Navy base for the top picture.

Newport is mostly interested in getting people to its shops and tourist attractions and not letting them hang around taking pictures of bridges. If you are interested in quaint shops and tourist attractions, Newport has you covered. 

(*) Connecticut and Conanicut sound so similar that they must be related... I thought... wrongly. Conanicut is named after Conanicus, a Narragansett Indian who gave permission for the English to use the island for grazing sheep. I'm betting he regretted that decision. Connecticut, on the other hand, is named for the Connecticut River, called "quinetucket" by the Algonquins.

The Algonquins

1 comment:

  1. This was a pioneering bridge: the first use of prefabricated parallel wire strand cables in a suspension bridge, where the strands are bound together at ground level and then unreeled onto the bridge. Prior to that, aerial spinning of wires was the norm. Each main cable is made up of 76 prefabricated strands.

    The bridge was also controversial because the original paint system failed within a year or two of opening; the contractor was found to be at fault.