Today The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Pell Bridge, officially opening to traffic exactly fifty years ago on June 28th 1969.

The Newport Bridge is an 11,250-foot-long water crossing of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay and remains the longest suspension bridge in New England. This ionic bridge has played a vital role and serves as an invaluable asset in the state. 

To honor the bridge, RITBA and the 50th Anniversary Committee led by Chairman Evan Smith, planned a full day of celebrations. The day commenced with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the toll plaza with several state and local officials in attendance. 

Following the ribbon cutting event, attendees traveled over the red, white and blue balloon lined bridge for an official rededication ceremony that took place at Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina.

Newport Pell Bridge lined with red, white and blue balloons with an American Flag hanging from the West tower (Photo by RITBA)

Emceed by Committee Chairman Evan Smith, speakers included Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline, Ms. Dallas Pell, Mr. Zechariah Chafee, Chairman of the RITBA Board Stephen C. Waluk, as well as Executive Director at The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, Buddy Croft. Those in attendance included state & local officials and numerous civic leaders including Naval offices, representatives from the towns of Newport and Jamestown and RITBA Stakeholders.

As part of the closing remarks Buddy Croft, Executive Director at the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority stated “when I look at the Newport Pell Bridge, I see an engineering marvel and the thousands of men and women who worked so hard, for so long, to design, engineer, and build this magnificent structure.” 

Buddy Croft, Executive Director at RITBA (Photo by RITBA)

The 50th Anniversary celebrations will continue through the evening with an event open to the public at Fort Adams State Park. The evening will consist of food, music, fun and fireworks. The celebration will start at 6 p.m., which will include a concert from the local band “Take it to the Bridge.” There will be food trucks available to purchase from, in addition families are welcomed to bring picnics. The celebration will end with fireworks which will begin at 9:15 p.m. 

No toll dollars or fuel tax dollars were used to fund any 50th Anniversary celebrations or events. All funding was raised through private donations.

Photo Gallery (provided by RITBA)

Original Bridge Sign
From Left to Right: RITBA Executive Director Buddy Croft, Donald Richardson, Evan Smith, Michael White, Mayor Jamie Bova, RITBA Board Chairman Stephen C. Waluk, Dallas Pell, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline
Ribbon cutting ceremony at the bridge toll plaza
Evan Smith, Chairman 50th Anniversary Committee
Bridge construction
Bridge dedication ceremony June 28,1969
1969 Bridge dedication ceremony
First car to cross over Newport Bridge during the dedication ceremony in 1969
Bridge dedication ceremony in 1969
Opening Day 1969
1969 Bridge dedication ceremony

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).