Records Relating to Washington Bridge Commission | State Archives Catalog
The Washington Bridge, which spans the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence, was first opened to traffic in 1793. John Brown and a number of other private investors had received a charter of incorporation for the Providence South Bridge Society. Since then, there have been four more bridges at the same location. In 1807, the society changed its name to the Providence Washington Bridge Society. In October 1815, a gale destroyed the existing bridge, soon after which a new charter was granted to petitioners incorporating the society under the new name of the Washington Bridge Society. The bridge was not replaced, however, until sometime in the 1820s. On November 20, 1860 the Society conveyed the "Washington Bridge Estate” to the City of Providence, in accordance with an act passed by the General Assembly. The wooden bridge was destroyed by fire and replaced by another wooden bridge. This bridge lasted until 1885, by which time the General Assembly had already appointed a Washington Bridge Commission in 1883, (Public Law 1883, ch. 349) to develop a steel structure to replace the existing wood structure. This bridge was partly meant to remove serious obstructions to navigation along the Seekonk River. In addition, the new bridge also featured a swing span that permitted bigger vessels to pass through in 1920 the General Assembly established a second Washington Bridge Commission to investigate the feasibility of constructing a higher-level bridge that could accommodate the significantly increased volume of commercial ship traffic. The Commission worked from 1920 to 1924, at which time it submitted a final report to the General Assembly. In 1927, the Commission was directed to proceed with construction. A contract for design was awarded to the Merrittt-Chapman and Scott Corporation and the fifth and current Washington Bridge was completed in 1930.
For post-1930 Washington Bridge documentation, see the Records of the Department of Transportation.