In early September, a large group of Fox Point neighbors met to discuss plans by the State of RI to demolish the Crook Point Bascule Bridge, the 100+ year-old railroad bridge that has been frozen in the “up” position since the 1970s and which many East Siders consider iconic.
Opinions on the demolition, which according to the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan would not occur until 2025 or ’26, were divided. One neighbor characterized the bridge as a “unique communal resource” and suggested creating a bike-pedestrian bridge with its remnants to unite the communities of Providence and East Providence. Another described the structure as beloved by neighbors and visitors alike—as demonstrated by the t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other local art pieces that bear its image. Still others did not share these sentiments, pointing out practical considerations like safety and liability. “It is an invitation for danger,” commented one neighbor about the rusty structure. Another attendee reminded the group of the City’s budget problems. “At some point we need to make sacrifices,” he said. “We now have another, exorbitantly expensive new [pedestrian] bridge.”
The mood in the room, however, was largely affectionate regarding the old bridge. “Is it practical?” asked another neighbor rhetorically about saving the structure. “No! But it’s a human spot. It’s emblematic of the city.” According to discussion leader Brent Runyon of the Providence Preservation Society, our next steps are unclear. The State has not commented on whether it plans to study the condition of the bridge, he said, nor has it responded to inquiries from Mayor Elorza about transferring ownership. In any case, FPNA will continue to hear neighbor’s ideas on this issue and speak up as opinions coalesce.