TIVERTON, R.I. – After several delays because of weather and safety concerns, the next big step in dismantling the old Sakonnet River Bridge got underway on Thursday. For people who grew up in that area, the bridge was more than just a bridge. Some of those people shared their stories with us.
The view along Route 24 between Tiverton and Portsmouth changed dramatically this Thursday as the center span of the old Sakonnet River Bridge was cut free and lowered to the river below.
Roger Gomes of Tiverton says, "Mixed emotions, you know? You hate to see it go, because I watched them build it. But hey, time marches on."
A crowd gathered to watch the slow progress.
Sandy Fitzgerald of Tiverton says, "A lot of memories I have of my father and I going over it. He'd pull me in a wagon."
Fitzgerald still has a newspaper picture of her and her father as the then new bridge was being built.
Fitzerald says, "I just wish he was here now."
Roger Gomes lost his childhood home in the 50s. It was torn down to make way for the old bridge. His house used to stand near the Tiverton end of the bridge.
Gomes says, "We had to move to the north end of town, but while they were building the old bridge that they're taking down, we had a front row seat."
Crews lowered the center span of the bridge, removing one temporary support block at a time. It’s a process that took hours. Some onlookers said they had mixed emotions as they watched the slow progress.
Joe Fitzgerald of Tiverton says, “I mean it is a little bit of an eyesore, but it's sentimental too.”
Some were just happy to see it go, more than a year after the dismantling project started.
Richard Lewis of Tiverton says, “I saw them when they built this bridge here. I was a little kid with my father. And we are so glad to see it gone now because it's ugly.”
After a few more steps, the new bridge will stand alone, carrying Route 24 between Tiverton and Portsmouth.
Joe Fitzgerald says, “Piece of history. It's a piece of history. And now we're just moving forward.”