Native Americans call the place where trails meet to cross a river Pawtucket. During the 18th Century settlers crossed the Pawtucket River seeking religious freedom in Rhode Island Colony. During the 19th century, Pawtucket’s Slater’s Mill marked the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the bridge spanning the river became a commercial thoroughfare. By the mid-20th century, Interstate 95 was the most traveled highway in the nation. In 1958 a new Pawtucket River Bridge was built to carry I-95 raffic over the Pawtucket River.
The design challenge was not to create a linkage over a relatively narrow New England waterway but to convey the series of extraordinary events that for centuries converged at this very spot. From hand-hewn covered bridges to steel and concrete marvels, Rhode Islanders have long expressed pride in bridges and regard them as iconic structures.