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Bridge Engineering

GRA is one of the region's leading bridge engineering firms having successfully completed scores of bridge projects of various types. GRA's experience includes the following:

  • Rehabilitation of Contemporary and Historic Bridges
  • Replacement of Existing Bridges
  • New Highway Bridges
  • River and Stream Crossings
  • Railroad Crossings
  • Demolition of Obsolete Bridges
  • Bridge Inspection
  • Calculations for Bridge Ratings

We invite you to view the representative projects below. Simply click on the project name to view a photograph or graphic and a brief project description.

Replacement of the Great Island Bridge

Narragansett, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

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Originally constructed in 1959, Great Island Bridge No. 499 serves as the sole means of access for the residential community of Great Island, spanning the tidal waters of Point Judith Pond between Bluff Hill Cove and the Port of Galilee. Due to its advanced age, condition, and substandard geometry, the RIDOT identified Great Island Bridge for full replacement.

The new bridge (completed in 2016) is a 3-span structure consisting of two, 57-foot end spans and an 86-foot center span, for a total length of 200 feet. The center span increases the clear channel opening from 25 feet to 76 feet. The cross section of the bridge is 48’-6” wide and provides for a 30-foot roadway, two 7’-6” reinforced concrete sidewalks, granite curbing, vehicular rail, pedestrian rail, and decorative lighting on both sides of the bridge, all supported by seven pre-stressed concrete box girders.

The substructure consists of two, short reinforced concrete abutments supported on micro-piles and two intermediate piers. The piers consist of reinforced concrete caps supported by steel H-piles driven to bedrock and caped by 30-inch diameter steel pipe pile jackets filled with concrete.

In order to maintain access to the island, a staged construction process was utilized wherein one lane of travel would be maintained, either on the old bridge or the partially-constructed new bridge. Traffic was maintained using a one-lane, alternating-flow roadway regulated by temporary traffic signals at either end.

For this $8.6 million project, GRA received a 2018 Engineering Excellence Award from American Council of Engineering Companies of Rhode Island (ACEC-RI).

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Davisville Road over Frenchtown Brook – Accelerated Bridge Construction

East Greenwich, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

Frenchtown Brook, an important tributary of the Hunt River, flowed in an easterly direction under Davisville Road through a 16-foot wide rectangular slab bridge supported by two concrete abutments. This structure, designated as Bridge No 435, was essentially a large culvert.

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The replacement structure for this bridge is a precast concrete, three-sided bridge that spans 28 feet over Frenchtown Brook, is 150 feet long (25, 6’-0” wide sections) and is approximately 7’-0” high at its centerline. The legs of the bridge are founded on precast concrete footings. The footings themselves bear on cast-in-place concrete subfootings. The four wingwalls of the culvert-like structure and the headwalls at each end of the structure are also precast concrete construction.

In order to minimize disturbance to the Frenchtown Brook during the placement of the footings, the bottom portion of the existing bridge abutments remained in place. Concrete fill was placed between the back of the existing abutments and the inside faces of the precast legs.

The accelerated construction technique, making extensive use of precast concrete structures, minimized the time needed for construction (33 days) and the corresponding impact to the travelling public.

For this structure, GRA was given a PIONEERING AWARD FOR TRANSPORTATION EXCELLENCE by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

Berkeley and Martin St. Bridges

Lincoln and Cumberland, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

For this project, GRA received the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) 2008 Pioneering Award for Transportation Excellence

The former Berkeley Bridge carried Martin Street over the Blackstone River between Lincoln and Cumberland, RI. The Martin Street Bridge carried Martin Street over the remnants of the historic Blackstone Canal, which runs just west of and parallel to the river.

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The earth embankment that separates the canal from the river has been improved and modified to become the very popular Blackstone River Bikeway. The original bridges were constructed in 1900.

A key element in this bridge replacement project was its setting within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. In addition, for safety reasons, the design incorporated a grade separation between the roadway and the bike path. Instead of two separate bridges with an at-grade connection at the bikeway, the new bridge is a three-span, steel-girder structure spanning the river, the bikeway and the canal. For historic preservation reasons, the spans over the river are 75 feet long, as before, with new timber bowstring trusses. The concrete pier required at the western bank of the river is positioned with respect to the bikeway/pedestrian walkway so as to provide a scenic overlook. To enhance this feature, the concrete pier has four rectangular openings, or "windows," through which pedestrians and bicyclists can view the Blackstone River. An important additional element at this location is the bikeway/pedestrian ramp, 245 feet long, which connects the bikeway to Martin Street within the limits of the new bridge. Metal railings, timber fencing, stone facing on concrete walls and landscaping complete the scenic overlook and riverfront enhancement.

GRA's innovative design on this project preserved the historic integrity of the area while improving safety, through a grade separation, at a point where two modes of transportation — the highway and a bike path — come together.

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The Albion Bridge

Lincoln and Cumberland, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

The Albion Bridge spans the Blackstone River between Lincoln and Cumberland, RI. The original bridge was a classic, pin-connected Pratt Truss structure built in the mid-1880s. It was considered a valuable visual element of the Albion Historic District and the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

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To maintain the historic value of this river crossing, Gordon R. Archibald, Inc. developed the innovative concept of 'aesthetic rehabilitation.' Under this concept, the trusses were refurbished and placed astride a new, two-dimensional steel grid superstructure. The steel grid carries all of the new superstructure and vehicular loadings, leaving the trusses to carry only the weight of and loadings on the sidewalks. In this way, the reconstructed bridge can carry contemporary traffic loadings, while its 19th-century visual quality is preserved for future generations.

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Relocated Route 403

East Greenwich and North Kingstown, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

GRA’s flagship project is the Relocated Route 403 freeway, a 4,5-mile controlled-access highway connecting Route 4 in East Greenwich to the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, RI. Included in this project were 14 new bridges and two bridge rehabilitations. The photographs shown are for selected bridges on the project that were designed by GRA.

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Middle Bridge Road Bridge

South Kingstown and Narragansett, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

The old Middle Bridge carried Middle Bridge Road across the Pettaquamscutt River about one-half mile north of the Narrow River inlet in Narragansett. The old bridge was constructed in 1952, and after 50 years of service, it met all the criteria for complete replacement. The existing bridge also carried three important public utilities across the river: a 4-inch gas line, a 6-inch sewer force main and a 12-inch water main.

The new Middle Bridge is a three-span (40'- 90'- 40') structure located near the middle of the Pettaquamscutt River. The bridge cross section provides a 30-foot roadway and two, 4-foot sidewalks, all of which are supported by 39-inch deep prestressed concrete butted box beams. These box beams are spaced to provide utility bays for the utilities mentioned above. The east and west over-the-water approaches to the new bridge are earth embankments with the side slopes protected by heavy riprap.

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Weekapaug Bridge

Westerly, RI
Owner: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

Weekapaug Bridge No. 997, originally built in 1936, carries Atlantic Avenue over the Weekapaug Breachway in Westerly, RI. This bridge project involved a superstructure replacement and substructure rehabilitation. The superstructure consists of a three spans (33'-54'-33') supported by butted prestressed concrete box beams with a channel beam to accommodate an 8-inch diameter water line.

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The bridge has one sidewalk. The precast crash-tested rails and decorative lighting were designed to replicate the original features. The existing commemorative granite plaques were reinstalled on the new bridge. The substructure repairs involved reinstalling stones which had fallen into the breachway and repointing masonry and filling voids at the pier ends.

Given the importance to Westerly and the state of the summer tourist season, the construction of this project was planned to take place in the off season. For expediency, the road was allowed to be closed, with a detour planned and implemented by GRA's traffic engineers. Under this approach, the contractor was allowed to close the road on September 19, 2011. The road was reopened to traffic on December 13, 2011, less than three months after its closing.

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Romano Vineyard Way Bridge

Quonset Business Park, North Kingstown, RI
Owner: Quonset Development Corporation

As part of a major capital improvement program at the Quonset Business Park, the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) constructed a new internal roadway called Romano Vineyard Way.

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The purpose of this new road is to connect different parts of the park while providing a grade separation at the internal rail line.

Opened in 2011, this bridge carries the new Romano Vineyard Way over Davisville Road and Seaview Railroad. The 84-foot span consists of five prestressed concrete bulb tee beams with a composite concrete deck and bituminous wearing surface. The bridge also includes sidewalks, parapets and pvc-coated chain link fencing on both sides of road. Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) retaining walls with formliner finish were utilized for the embankment slopes.

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Selected Bridges

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)

Golden Hill Road over the Housatonic River
Lee, MA

Located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, the Golden Hill Road Bridge over the Housatonic River Bridge is a 100-foot-long single-span structure supported on reinforced concrete abutments.

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The project consisted of replacing the existing superstructure with a prefabricated steel camel back truss system supporting a reinforced concrete deck; installing three-bar steel bridge railings, reinforced concrete abutments and wing walls; and installing riprap erosion control in front of the abutments and wing walls. MassDOT created a special program devoted to the replacement of these remote and forgotten structures. The program emphasized the use of prefabricated components and reuse of existing components, when practical.


Main Street over the East Branch of the Housatonic River
Hinsdale, MA

The Main Street Bridge is a historically sensitive structure requiring a design approach achieving a balance between aesthetics and safety.

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The design required special attention to detail combining practical safety concerns with the historical and cultural needs of the community. GRA was successful in achieving this mix. The bridge is a 59-foot-long single-span structure supported on reinforced concrete abutments. The project consisted of replacing the existing superstructure with a pre-fabricated steel Warren Truss system supporting a reinforced concrete deck, installing a two-bar steel bridge railing and a decorative pedestrian railing, providing aesthetically accented reinforced concrete abutments and return walls, and installing riprap erosion control in front of the abutments.


Reed’s Bridge Road over the South River, Conway
Conway, MA

Located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, the Reed's Bridge Road Bridge over the South River is an example of the context sensitive design approach.

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This design approach attempts to combine practical safety concerns with the historical and cultural needs of a community. The people of Conway look upon their bridges as works of art that define their town. GRA was successful in combining aesthetics and safety to the satisfaction of both the town and MassDOT.

Services

  • Structural Design
  • Hydraulic Design
  • Bridge Inspections
  • Bridge Ratings

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