Why Fall River’s Former Brightman Street Bridge Remains in Place
The former Brightman Street Bridge that spans the Taunton River between Fall River and Somerset sticks out like a sore thumb. It is past time that the bridge, which opened on October 10, 1908, be taken down and carted away.
But can it be done?
The Veterans Memorial Bridge, a bascule bridge connecting Somerset and Fall River, carries U.S. Route 6 and Massachusetts Route 138 across the Taunton River with connecting ramps to the old Massachusetts Route 79.
The $290 million dollar bridge – a replacement for the Brightman Street Bridge, an old-fashioned drawbridge – was dedicated on September 11, 2011.
It would seem logical that once the Veterans Memorial Bridge was operational, the Brightman Street Bridge could be taken down, right? You would think so.
Not so fast.
When the Hess Corporation was attempting to site a liquid natural gas (LNG) tank in the Taunton River just north of the new bridge at Weaver's Cove, the federal delegation won approval in 2006 for legislation to prevent federal funds from being used to dismantle the Brightman Street Bridge.
With the old bridge still in place, it would be impossible for Hess to transport LNG tankers to and from Weaver's Cove. Checkmate? Not really.
Due to market forces, Hess lost interest in Weaver's Cove, and the folks in Fall River and Somerset were stuck with a decaying Brightman Street Bridge.
Massachusetts has been reluctant to spend the cash – estimated to be about $18 million dollars – to remove the old bridge, so there it remains.