Portsmouth, R.I. — It took more than 2,000 cables to make up four sculptural sails marking the gateways to the recently completed Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge, which links the cities of Worcester and Shrewsbury, Mass. together. The sails are 46 feet high and 51 feet long. The decorative sails, which are illuminated by changing LED lights at night, are visually striking to the 45,000 cars that will pass over the bridge per day, but also have symbolic significance for the location.
The nearly 100-year-old design of the former bridge was referred to as "suffocating" for anyone who passed underneath on the water. The concrete masses created a dark and confining feeling and the limited height of the bridge restricted all sailboat traffic.
At the road level, the narrow sidewalks did not make for a pedestrian friendly place to take in a view of the frequent crew races occurring on the lake. The new bridge has changed all that, and the Gateway Sails stand to bring attention to the reclaiming of a nautical theme.
The Kenneth Burns Memorial Bridge is 870 feet from end to end, and 143 feet wide. The decorative sails bring attention to the forward-thinking design of the bridge in that it incorporates how people, and not just cars, can utilize the bridge to be more environmentally conscious and to enjoy the lake.
There is now safe biking on both sides for commuters, and seating platforms from which to view rowing regattas on the lake and sailboats can now pass freely under the bridge. A more open steel construction allows light and air to circulate under the bridge and a new stormwater collection system now prohibits dirty water from running off into the lake.
Ronstan was chosen to help bring the vision to reality based on its experience with decorative and structural cables. Working hand-in-hand with Newport Industrial Fabrication, Ronstan offered several cable options and ultimately was able to deliver this project with 100 percent Made in America certification. The project was delivered on time and on budget.