Historic Bulkeley Bridge Turns 104; Oldest River Crossing in Hartford

The Bulkeley Bridge, carrying I-84, US 6 and US 44 across the Connecticut River, connects Hartford and East Hartford.  It's the oldest river crossing in the Hartford area, and will celebrate it's birthday this weekend. The bridge opened on Oct. 6, 1908, and was preceded by an older bridge that burned down in 1895. Each day over 140,000 drivers pass directly over one of New England’s most important architectural treasures. The bridge is currently listed on the United States National Register of Historic places as a heritage site.

Construction began in 1903, and the bridge was named after a former Mayor of Hartford and Senator at the time of its construction Morgan G. Bulkeley. The bridge was proposed to replace a two-lane covered toll bridge that opened in 1818. The 974-foot span carried horse traffic, and in 1890 trolley lines were added, connecting Hartford to East Hartford and Glastonbury.

On May 17, 1895, the bridge was destroyed in a raging fire. The legislature looked for a way to replace the old wooden bridge with a more permanent and iconic bridge that would hold up to the elements, honor Connecticut’s heritage, and perhaps most importantly keep Connecticut hiring in-state.

The costs of construction are estimated at roughly $3 million for the State of Connecticut which - adjusted for inflation - has been considered to be the most expensive bridge project  in Connecticut history.