Mount Hope Bridge

The Mount Hope Bridge is a two-lane suspension bridge spanning the Mount Hope Bay in eastern Rhode Island, at one of the narrowest gaps in Narragansett Bay. The bridge connects the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth and Bristol, and is part of Route 114. Its towers are 285 feet (87 m) tall, the length of the main span is 1,200 feet (366 m) and it offers 135 feet (41 m) of clearance over high water. The total length of the bridge is 6,130 feet (1,868 m).

Before the bridge was built, a ferry operated between Bristol and Portsmouth. The 1855 Bristol Ferry Light still remains at the base of the bridge. The Mount Hope Bridge was originally proposed in 1920. After a few years of resistance from the Rhode Island General Assembly, the New Hope Bridge Company was incorporated in 1927. Using a design by Robinson & Steinman, construction began on December 1, 1927. Four months before it was to open, serious structural problems were discovered, forcing the contractor to disassemble and reassemble portions of the bridge. On October 24, 1929, about five months behind schedule, the $5,000,000 bridge was opened to traffic. It was owned by the Mount Hope Bridge Company as a private toll bridge, with the initial toll costing 60 cents one way, and $1 for a round-trip. By 1931, the Bridge company went bankrupt, and Rudolf F. Haffenreffer, a prominent local brewer, acquired the bridge in receivership. It remained the longest suspension bridge in New England for 40 years, until the Claiborne Pell Bridge opened a few miles to the south in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1971, the Mount Hope Bridge was considered for inclusion as part of the never-built Interstate 895. This plan would have required the construction of a parallel span, and the entire I-895 plan was eventually dropped due to community opposition throughout the affected areas of Rhode Island. Since 1976, the Mount Hope Bridge has been listed with the National Register of Historic Places (Structure #76000038). It underwent more than $15 million in renovations between 1998 and 2004. Bicycles are permitted on this bridge, but bicyclists are advised to use extreme caution. The bridge also has narrow sidewalks on both sides, but pedestrians are strictly prohibited from using the bridge.

Bridge tokens
In 1954, with the company in receivership, the Mount Hope Bridge was purchased by the State of Rhode Island. The bridge's toll was eventually reduced from 60 cents to 30 cents for a one-way trip. It was finally discontinued in 1998, after calculations indicated that the toll was not high enough to cover the cost of collecting it.


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