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A sketch map * showing the location of bridges referred to in the report is also respectfully transmitted herewith.

A careful study has been made of all the bridges in the district. Those which interfere with free and safe navigation cross either the Fort Point Cbannel or Charles River (which enter the upper harbor of Boston), and are as follows:


a. The New York and New England Railroad Bridge interferes with free and safe navigation. This arises from three causes. (a) Its draw-openings are too narrow. The bridge is situated be

. tween the Congress Street and Mount Washington Avenue bridges (A and C on plan), being 500 feet from the first and 1,100 feet from the second. (See B on plan.) Its draw-openings are 40 feet 7 inches wide, being about 1 foot 7 inches narrower than those of bridge C, and nearly 3 feet narrower than those of bridge A. Some vessels drawing from 20 to 22 feet, which could pass bridges A and C at average height water, can not pass this bridge; hence, the sugar refineries using wharves lo. cated above bridge Care prevented from employing such vessels.

The best mode of altering this bridge so as to prevent this obstruc. tion is to widen the draw openings to a least width of 424 feet. The cost of this alteration would probably not exceell $3,000. It would require the suspension of travel across the bridge for several days.

(b) The direction of the draw.pier does not conform with those of the piers of the neighboring bridges; consequently, vessels having passed at ebb-tide through the draw opening on the Boston side (where at pres. ent the water is deepest) are in danger of colliding with the upper end of the draw.pier of the Congress Street Bridge.

The best mode of altering this bridge so as to prevent this obstruc. tion is to reconstruct the lower part of the draw.pier so as to align it with those of the neighboring bridges. This would cost about $5,000, and can be done without stopping travel across the bridge.

(c) Complaints have been made that vessels are often delayed be. cause the draws of this bridge are not promptly opened. This is due to the many trains which pass the bridge in quick succession.

Under the law of the State of Massachusetts, a railroad train is allowed fifteen minutes before and after its tabular time, and any approaching train further reasonable time for crossing a draw-bridge; hence, where many trains are run at short intervals, the draw may be continuously closed for many hours.

No alteration of the bridge can overcome this difficulty. The inconvenience might, perhaps, be somewhat lessened by a change in the State law.

If the project for deepening the Fort Point Channel to 23 feet at mean low water is carried out, as recommended in my report dated January 27, 1885, more extensive changes than those above indicated must be made in this bridge, since its piles extend only to 22 feet below mean low water. It does not, therefore, seem desirable to urge immediate action.

b. The Old Colony Railroad Bridge interferes with free navigation on account of the delay in opening its draws, due to the great number of trains passing over it. No alteration in the bridge is necessary.

* Ooritter.

(2) CHARLES RIVER. The seven draw-bridges situated between the river's month and East Cambridge (marked D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K on map*) interfere with free navigation, owing to their proximity to each other. Although the problem of re-arranging and modifying these bridges has been often and thoroughly investigated, no practical plan consistent with the necessities of the railroad and city travel has been developed.

The most serious obstructions to the navigation of the river are the railroad bridges (marked F, G, H, I, J on map*). The frequent passing of trains renders delays in opening the draws unavoidable. The inconvenience is greatest in connection with the Boston and Maine Railroad Bridge (marked G on map*) and the consolidated bridge of the Eastern and Boston and Lowell railroads (marked H, I on map'), which has two independient draw-sections. These bridges are so near together that it is necessary for the passage of a vessel of the larger class navigating the river to bave the three draws open at the same time. The time tables of the three railways not being arranged with a view to facilitate navigation, this coincidence of openings is often impossible, and long delays occur. It is almost a rule for the draws of the Eastern Railroad Bridge to be closed from four to five hours at a time in the morning, and about as many hours in the afternoon. Instances hare been reported where as many as twenty two vessels have been thus detained for many hours.

These difficulties can not be obviated by any practicable alteration of the bridges. Some improvement could be obtained by introducing steam-power for moving the draw.sections, but the benefit would be comparatively so slight that it does not appear to justify the trouble and expense.

The obstruction to navigation arising from the bridges crossing the Fort Point Channel and the Charles River, above specified, can not be removed or diminished by the construction of booms, dikes, piers, or any other structures for the guiding of vessels. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major of Engineers. The CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, U. S. A.




Newport, R. I., December 8, 1884. GENERAL: Referring to General Orders, No. 13, Headquarters Corps of Engineers, current series,

respecting the interference with free and safe navigation of bridges and other structures within my district, I have to state I have visited Pawtucket (Seekonk) River, and submit the following report concerning the two bridges which cross that river just above its confluence with Providence River.


This highway bridge, originally built in 1793, was rebuilt in 1815, with a draw, opening close to the eastern end of the bridge. By reason of


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this location and of the width of the draw-span, only 38 feet, and the insufficient depth of water through it, this bridge is a great obstruction to navigation, but the State legislature, at its January session of 1883, enacted a law requiring the city of Providence to remore

Tho stono and other materials deposited in the Seekonk River under and near Washington Bridge, so called, at India Point, in said city (Providence) from said river, and causo the channel thereof under and around said bridgo to be dredged and cleared oi all obstructions to the flow of the tides into and out of said river, to a depth of 15 feet at low rater, and reconstruct said bridge with a swing-draw in the main channel of said river, with an opening on each sido of said (traw not less than Eo feet wido, for the safe and convenient passage of vessels navigating said river through the same, in such manner as the harbor commissioners shall approve

The new bridge is now in process of construction, and it is expected that it will be completed and the old bridge and the obstructions at and about it will be removed by the 1st of May next.



About 250 feet below the Washington Bridge is the railroad bridge of the Boston and Providence Railroad Company. I quote from the annual report of the late General Warren for 1874 the following descrip. tion of this bridge and the present arrangements for the passage of vessels through its draw:

This bridge is 3964 feet loug, divided into three spans and a draw. Commencing on the west side, there is, first, it span of 113 feet; next, one of 1081 feet; nest is the draw, 154 feet, with openings of 60 feet in the clear; and last, a short span of 201 feet, one end of which rests on a stono pier, the only one in the bridge, the other end resting on the abutment. The superstructure is a Howo truss.

To facilitate the passage of vessels through this and Washington Bridge, double lines of piling have been put in between the draws of the two bridges. This piling has been extended about 300 feet above Washington Bridge, and one lino has been extended about the samo distance below the railroad bridge. The space between these lines of piles varies from 38 to 60 feet. Vessels going up the river enter this passage at an angle with tho current, and pass tho railroad bridge at an angle of 20 degrees with tho axis of the piers. When they reach Washington Bridge, a turn must be made to the left of about 45 degrees. This turn bas to be in the draw of the bridge, where the passago is only 38 feet wide. These vessels pass up the river at high'water, when there is but littlo current. They can not tow through safely because of the sharp turn above alluded to, but have to warp through and mako up the tow above. In descending they generally leavo Pawtucket after the tido comiences to ruu out, and reach these bridges when tho current is very swift, often as much as 5 miles per hour. To break up a tow in a current like this, so as to enable the vessels to warp through, would be attended with great danger of being carried down onto the bridge to tho west of the draw. Their only course is to be taken through by the tug, and this must be done at a speed greater than the current, in order to keep steeragc-way. In making this passage they are very frequently damaged by coming in contact with tho piling. Once in the passage there is no escape, except with the current at the lower end.

The width of the draw-openings in the railroad bridge was directed by the act of the legislature which authorized the construction of the bridge. Their location was doubtless selected to suit, as far as possible, the location of the draw in the old Washington Bridge.

The combined obstruction furnished by the Washington Bridge and the railroad bridge is a very serious one, as will be seen from the plat* herewith.

It has for many years been the cause for much complaint by the citi. zens of the enterprising town of Pawtucket, which is situated about 4 miles above the bridges, and is extensively interested in manufactures which depend on water transportation, and it has delayed for years appropriations by the General Government for the improvement of Paw

Plat omitted.
ENG 88-159

tucket River. Neither the location nor the plans of these bridges received the sanction of Congress, and I may also remark that this is the case also with the new bridge which is now building above the present site of the Washington Bridge. The location and the width of The draw-openings of the new bridge seem to be judiciously arranged, and when it is completed it is barely possible that the railroad company can, by dredging below its bridge, so as to carry the channel further to the eastward, and by a new arrangement of the guides to its western drawopening, facilitate sufficiently for the present the passage of vessels, but for the following reasons I do not deem this probablc.

The new highway bridge and the railroad bridge are only about 500 feet apart. There is only one available draw-opening in the railroad bridge. It is but 60 feet wide, and 15 feet of this width is taken up by the oblique guides through the draw. When the new highway bridge is completed and the guides at the railroad-bridge draw are newly arranged to suit the new location of the draw in the highway bridge, the available width of the draw-opening in the railroad bridge can be somewhat increased, but in any case it can not be made much more than 50 feet. The draw-openings in the new highway bridge are neither of them opposite the single available draw.opening in the railroad bridge. The western side of this opening is about 20 feet to the eastward of the western side of the eastern draw opening in the new highway bridge, and just below the railroad bridge the river makes a sharp turn to the westward.

To sum up: There is but one available draw.opening in the railroad bridge. It is too narrow, and there should be two. It is so far to the eastward that the passage of vessels through the bridges will be tortuous and, when the tide is running, dangerous. It will doubtless be found necessary to remove the draw-openings in this bridge to the westward, so that they will be opposite or nearly opposite the drawopenings in the new bighway bridge, and to increase the width of the former to 80 feet, which is the width of the latter; but action by the General Government may be delayed in this case until the new highway bridge is finished and we can see the result of tho change in location of its draw. This is in consideration of the possibility before mentioned, and of the fact that the legislature of Rhode Island, at its last session, enacted the following law looking to the modification of the draw of the railroad bridge by State direction, if it be found necessary after investigation by the committee provided for in the act: RESOLUTION appointing a joint special committee on

the obstructions in the Seekonk River below the No. 4, passed May 29, 1884. site of the Providence Washington Bridge. Resolved, That a joint special committee consisting of Messrs. William W. Blodgett, of Pawtucket, William A. Harris, of Providence, and Ellery H. Wilson, of East Providence, on the part of the house of representatives, and Messrs. Henry B. Met. calf, of Pawtucket, John P. Gregory, of Lincoln, and Edward C. Dubois, of East Providence, on the part of the senate, bo appointed to inquire into and report what obstructions to the navigation of the Seekonk River exist below the site of the present Providence Washington Bridge, and what, if anything, ought to be done to effect the removal of such obstructions; that said committee be authorized to sit during the recess, and be directed to report in print, by bill or otherwise, to the general assembly at the January session, A. D. 1835.

With this report I submit copies of letters respecting the obstruction to navigation caused by the railroad bridge, which I have received from citizens of Pawtucket, and also a plat,* for which I am indebted to the courtesy of Capt. J. P. Cotton, one of the commissioners and the

* Omitted.

engineer of the new bridge, showing the present location of the Wash-
'ington Highway Bridge, the new location of this bridge, and the loca-
tion of the railroad bridge.
Very respecttully, your obedient servant,


Lieut. Col. of Engineers. Brig. Gen. JOHN NEWTON,

Chief of Engineers, U. S. A.


PawtucKET, R. I., August 16, 1881. DEAR SIR: Yours of the 2d instant was duly received, but have delayed answering, as Mr. George E. Newell, who has been appointed by the governor as one of the commissioners to construct a new bridge in place of ihe Washington Bridge, bas been out of the State.

There are no causeways or structures now erected or in process of erection that will interfere with the free and safe pavigation of the Pawtucket River, except the Washington Bridge and railroad bridge near its mouth. A new bridge is in process of erection in place of the Washington Bridge, with good and sufficient draw-openings. The railroad Bridge, with insufticient draw-openings, is a serions obstruction to navigation, and could be remedied by making a wider draw nearer the center of the river.

It is an undisputed fact the railroad bridge is the only structure upon the river that is an obstruction to our river.

Inclosed please find letters from some of our prominent citizens, giving their views. Should you wish further information, I shall be pleased to inform you to the best of my ability. Very respectfully,


President Town Council. GEORGE H. Elliot, Esq.,

Lieut. Col. of Engineers.


PAWTUCKET, R. I., iugust 16, 1884. DEAR SIR: In reply to your communication in relation to the railroad bridge over Pawtucket River, i tind it is an obstruction to the free navigation of the river. The draw is narrow, and it purports to be 60 feet; it is practically but 45 feet, or nearly that. It is a serious obstruction to the passage of large vessels and barges. It should be widened and located differently. This draw is in the bend of the river, which makes it more difficult for vessels to get through. In my opinion, it should be placed farther west, and have two openings of not less than 80 feei cach in the clear. Respectfully, yours,


President of the Town Council, Town of Partucket, R. I.


PAWTUCKET, R. I., August 15, 1884. Sir: Your inquiry in regard to the obstruction to navigation of the Pawtucket River is at hand.

In answer would say that while the proposed removal of Washington Bridge ameliorates the condition of navigation, a very serious and important obstruction will remain in the railroad bridge just below, on account of its position, causing a crooked passage-way, its width of draw rendering it impossible for craft to pass and repass, being obliged to turn while passing.

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