The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) acquired the Crook Point Bascule Bridge in 1981 as part of a real estate package that included the railroad tunnel and the former Union Station. The purchase would clear the title for the development of Capital Center (Union Station area). It is 113 years old and was built in 1908 by the New Haven Railroad.
Train service stopped in 1976 when the lift portion of the bridge was raised to its current position for boating purposes. RIDOT has been in talks with the City of Providence to transfer ownership to the City. In April of this year RIDOT sent an agreement to the City to transfer the property for a fee of $1.00. At this time, the transfer is scheduled for late July or early August. It is dependent on the bridge being found to be structurally sound and it must be approved by both the Rhode Island Public Rail Corporation and the Providence Redevelopment Agency.
If the structural assessment after this fire shows the bridge to be sound, the transfer can take place. If it is found to be not sound, and if the City does not want to make the necessary repairs to make it safe, RIDOT would move up the demolition date. Right now, that date is 2025. RIDOT may have to do some maintenance work because of this fire and will do so expeditiously.
Today, RIDOT will inspect the bridge by drone. RIDOT expects to have results from this analysis by the end of the day. RIDOT has contracted with A.I. Engineers to do a physical inspection tomorrow. The bridge is slippery and still smoldering. A.I. Engineers have special equipment that enables them to do the inspection safely. Once the analysis is complete, RIDOT will put a plan in place to make any needed repairs to the bridge.
RIDOT is in communication with the Coast Guard and the harbor masters for both Providence and East Providence. They will make decisions about restricting boat traffic.
RIDOT inspects the bridge for structural soundness every two years. The safety of this bridge has been an ongoing concern to RIDOT. There is fencing around it, but people continue to circumvent the safety barriers and access the bridge.