April 28, 2005

The Bridge

The first thing I did when I saw that Google was allowing people to get color satellite pictures through their beta Google maps was to look at the city where I was born, Fall River, MA, and the surrounding areas. These are my stomping grounds, somewhere between Providence Rhode Island and Fairhaven, MA — a roughly 18 mile radius circle, centered on Fall River.

In any case, one of the more curious features on the Google map sat picture is the image of the Brightman Street Bridge. It’s a draw bridge and the satellite just happened to get a picture of it in the “open” position. More than a couple of other people noticed it, too.

It so happened that this week I got caught twice in traffic because of openings of the Brightman Street Bridge. The second time, I was actually on the bridge while it was open. Since it took about 20 minutes of the barge to go through, I had plenty of time to get out of my Jeep and take a few pictures.

Here’s a picture I took while the barge was actually passing through the bridge, in a position very close to that represented in the satellite picture.

You can check out these links for all the pictures I have uploaded:

  • The satellite picture of the Brightman Street Bridge
  • View from the Jeep
    • I took this picture before it occurred to me I would be there a while and i might as well stretch the legs. I’m not actually on the bridge proper, but rather on the ramp of paved earth that leads onto the actual suspended part of the bridge.
  • Closer shot of the draw bridge
    • I got a little closer for this picture. A fellow driver got out of his car and came over to me. “Everybody’s pissed off” he said. “There’s nuttin’ you can do about it. So I’m going to get some fresh air.” Then he lit a cigarette. He was a nice enough fellow, but he had a penchant for repeating the obvious. At least he didn’t seem to think my photography was unusual.
  • The Barge
    • This is probably some sort of energy-related barge, headed for the coal-burning electric plant up the river.
    • A few people turned their cars around and left the bridge, leaving spaces in front of our cars. We could have moved are card even closer to the drawbridge. Friendly motorist guy said to me “People want me to move up. I ain’t leaving my vehicle on the bridge when that barge is coming through. It hits the bridge and we’re all dead!” He was overly-dramatic about it, but I too was nervous about being stuck too far out on the bridge in case of an accident.
  • Tug Boat Helps Out
    • Cute. You can see why they made a kids show based on tugboats. Little boats with a big job.
  • Barging Through
    • This is the photo also shown above and to the right. I crossed to the other side of the bridge and took it. Friendly Motorist Guy followed me over there. As I peered over the side of the bridge at the waters of the Taunton river, he said to me. “I can’t believe people jump off this bridge to commit suicide. If you did a belly flop all you’d get was a stomach ache.” He did have a morbid streak, didn’t he? All the more fun, I suppose.

They can’t finish the new, higher bridge soon enough for me. It had been years since I’d actually been on the bridge during an opening. Even though I was in a hurry that day, it was neat to see this up close again.

Posted by James at April 28, 2005 2:21 AM
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Nice article! I too have been hung up more than once trying to visit your home when this bridge was up.

I notice you wrote it at 2:21 AM... this is evidenced by both the timestamp and the grammar of your last sentence.

"But its neat to see this up close nice in a while It had been years since Id actually been on the bridge during an opening."

GO TO BED!!! ;-)

Posted by: Chuck S. at April 28, 2005 7:59 AM

LOL, Chuck. I have to peel him off the couch in the morning.

They can finish that new bridge too fast for me. If they finish the new bridge, then the LNG tankers can start coming up the Taunton river. If they don't finish the bridge in time, Hess may be forced to find a new location. That's the only reason I haven't been cursing the slowness of the new bridge. Yes, take your g*ddamn progress somewhere else. I'll stay backward if it means you keep your bombs somewhere else.

Posted by: Maggie at April 28, 2005 8:24 AM

I thought the Brightman St. bridge was slated to be demolished and a new, safe bridge would take its place...

Say, does anyone know if the Brighman St. bridge is named after the Brightman family that includes Steve Brightman, aka David Bowie? Calling all Fall River peeps (Brian, this includes you!). Whenever I drive over it, I wonder about that.

I mean come on--how many Brightmans can there be in the area? Certainly fewer than there are Silvas.

Posted by: Patti M. at April 28, 2005 8:38 AM
I notice you wrote it at 2:21 AM... this is evidenced by both the timestamp and the grammar of your last sentence.

How about as evidenced by me telling you around 1:55 AM that I had to finish the weblog post I was putting together?

Posted by: James at April 28, 2005 10:05 AM

I used to always cut through Berkley and Dighton on the way to your house, temporarily doubling the population of each town as I passed through. But since I drove my old car into the ground next to a corn field in Berkley I've started taking Route 79 and the Brightman Street Bridge again for the first time in many, many years. I've realized it's better because it lets me spend more quality time zoning out to music on cruise control.

Posted by: Mike at April 28, 2005 10:33 AM

Link to PDF describing project to replace the bridge:


Posted by: Chuck S. at April 28, 2005 10:50 AM

Very cool link, Chuck--thanks. There are schematics as well as pix. I was interested to read the problems and solutions in the "Conclusions" section.

Posted by: Patti M. at April 28, 2005 1:14 PM

No idea whether or not the Brightman family we know and love is the same as those that Brightman St was named for. But it's Al who looks like Bowie, not Steve.

Posted by: briwei at April 28, 2005 2:09 PM

Ah, yes, Alan, not Steve. Will the true Bowie-sque Brightman please stand up?!

Thanks, Bri.

Posted by: Patti M. at April 28, 2005 2:44 PM

I'm surprised that no one has commented since 4/28/05 that the "'ol bridge will stay". According to recent developments in Congress, Bush signed the Transportation Bill that contained an article providing for the retention, rehabilitation and funding of the existing span as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing. Vehicular crossing will be allowed for Medical Emergency units only.

Posted by: Bill at August 29, 2005 11:31 PM

Yes I saw that too. Great move by the rep from Worcester, sneaking that language into the bill! Woo Hoo! Hope that kills that stinker of an idea once and for all (I'm sure it won't).

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at August 30, 2005 9:42 AM

Last I heard, the LNG people were pretty mad. :) They've vowed to fight, but I doubt they can do much about it.

Posted by: Julie at August 30, 2005 2:45 PM

God bless Jim McGovern's pointed head!


Posted by: Patti M. at August 30, 2005 2:53 PM

From the Boston Globe, Monday, August 22, 2005:

Representative Jim McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat whose district includes Fall River, last month won a seat on the committee drafting the final transportation bill. He was able to slip language into the law requiring the bridge to be preserved as a pedestrian path, bicycle route, and access point for emergency vehicles.

The final law also dropped funding to demolish the bridge, and instead provided $500,000 to retrofit it for its new role, said Michael Mershon, a spokesman for McGovern.

"If Weaver's Cove wants to bring LNG up by canoe, they can try to do that, but hopefully the tankers won't be able to get through," Mershon said.

Posted by: Patti M. at August 30, 2005 2:55 PM

Yeah, McGovern rocked on this one. Way to go, Rep. We're in his district here.

The thing is, this is a weird geographical district and usually we lose out to Worcester concerns. McGovern really is pulling for us here. Great to see.

I hope it sticks.

Posted by: James at August 30, 2005 6:34 PM

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