Rehabbed Stillwater Viaduct wins national recognition

Rehabbed Stillwater Viaduct wins national recognition

The renovated Stillwater Viaduct in a photo taken by Mark Flannery for the project's contractors.

SMITHFIELD - Improving with age and the help of a recent facelift, the renovated and historical Stillwater Viaduct on George Washington Highway has won recognition as North America's "Best Rehabilitated Bridge."

The designation comes from a building industry association, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, which annually gives awards for construction projects using precast concrete in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Actually, the 449-foot span over the Woonasquatucket River underwent much more than a cosmetic makeover while it was closed for the better part of 2012. It was rehabilitated from the ground up in a $9.4-million project undertaken by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

In announcing its awards for 2013, the institute described the bridge, which was repaired with an eye toward preserving its architectural esthetics, as "a landmark celebrating one of the state's early attempts to accommodate the automobile age through highway infrastructure."

Built in 1932, the bridge links Route 104 with Smithfield's "Corporate Corridor" along Route 7.

In addition to renovating the travel portion of the bridge and replacing its crumbling sidewalks, the contractor, Northern Construction Services, repaired the deteriorated, arched sub-structure that carries the viaduct across the river.

A key element in the project was maintaining the design of the original, according to Bharat Patel of the project's engineering firm, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.

The project, which closed the bridge from March to October of last year, was finished ahead of schedule. Some $5-million of the cost was paid by the federal government and the rest came from the state.