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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
William H. Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Columbus Boulevard Pedestrian Crossing At Hartford
Hartford, Connecticut

William H. Mortensen Riverfront Plaza

• Bridge: William H. Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
• City: Hartford
• State: Connecticut
• Country: USA
• Carries: Pedestrians
• Crosses: Columbus Boulevard
• Date Opened: 1999
• Total Length: 850 Feet (Estimated)
• Longest Span: 105 Feet (Estimated, Cable Stayed Span)
• Tower Height: 90 Feet (Estimated)
• Deck Width: 24 Feet (Estimated)
• Number Of Spans: 1
• Height Above Highway: 25 Feet (Estimated)
While the urban renewal movement of the 1960s was supposed to create the cities of the future, the typical outcome was a nearly unlivable series of atrocious concrete structures that cast a dismal shadow over most major cities in the United States. Hartford ended up with a concrete floodwall blocking off the river, the river itself so polluted as to be a hazard, a giant freeway breaking the city in two, and vast tracts of abandoned industrial ruins. In fact, you could not even see the Connecticut River from downtown Hartford.

In the 1980s, the city of Hartford decided to reclaim the riverfront area. The industrial ruins were leveled, parking lots were moved underground, and destination attractions such as a new convention center and science museum were developed. The riverfront was reclaimed with a series of parks, trails, a boathouse, and a major cleanup effort on the Connecticut River. To tie all of this together, the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza was built. This is a 1,000 foot long structure that connects the riverfront parks to downtown Hartford. Much of the plaza is elevated in order to cross Interstate highway I-91, several railroad tracks, highway ramps, and Columbus Boulevard. It is fully accessible and includes an elevator near the Connecticut Science Center. The net result is a remarkable urban gem that has allowed the city to reconnect to the river and provide recreation opportunities that has dramatically improved the local quality of life.

The west end of the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza features a cable stayed bridge over Columbus Boulevard that includes a 105 foot long suspended span. Rather than having a single self-supporting bridge tower, the structure has a pair of inverted V-towers. These towers are able to pivot at their base. The towers are held in place by a pair of anchor cables on the east side of the main bridge pier, and they support 3 pairs of stay cables that maintain the span over Columbus Boulevard.

The photo above is traveling northbound on Columbus Boulevard, with the Connecticut Science Center to our right. The photo below is a closer view of the bridge tower and supporting cables.

William H. Mortensen Riverfront Plaza

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