Gold Star Memorial Bridge
|Gold Star Memorial Bridge|
A view of the two spans of The Gold Star Memorial Bridge, as seen from the pedestrian path on the Groton side, looking back toward New London across the Thames River.
|Official name||Gold Star Memorial Bridge|
|Carries||Motor vehicles and a pedestrian/bicycle path on the south span
I‑95 / US 1
|Locale||New London, Connecticut|
|Maintained by||Connecticut Department of Transportation|
|Design||Truss - Deck|
|Total length||1807.8 m / 1941 m|
|Width||24.4 m / 24.4 m|
|Clearance below||41.1 m|
|Opened||1943 (twinned 1973)|
The Gold Star Memorial Bridge is a pair of steel truss bridges that carries both Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1 across the Thames River between New London, Connecticut, US and Groton, Connecticut. The bridge is the largest structure in the state with over 1,000,000 sq ft (93,000 m2). of deck area and the longest bridge in the state at 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Its 11 highway lanes accommodate an average daily traffic of 117,000 vehicles. Local media outlets and residents refer to the bridge as "The Goldstar".
The structure was completed in 1943 as a single span. It was part of Southeastern Connecticut's "free span" highway bypass, a short 3.6-mile (5.8 km) long four-lane stretch connecting New London, Connecticut to Groton, Connecticut. As part of the new highway, the bridge's purpose was to remove automobiles from a previous bridge that carried U.S. Route 1 over the Thames River. In 1958, the bypass was connected to the I-395/I-95 intersection in East Lyme, Connecticut.
On December 12, 1964 after completion of the 13-mile (21 km) Route 184 bypass to the Rhode Island border, the bridge and both bypasses were officially part of Interstate 95.In 1951 the bridge was designated as the "Gold Star Memorial Bridge" in honor of those members of the Armed Forces of the United States from Groton, New London, and Waterford who lost their lives during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
During construction of the second span on July 1, 1972, the US Coast Guard Academy's sail training vessel, the three masted barque USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), was involved in a serious accident with the bridge as she was returning to her berth in New London. Despite extensive precautions, as the ship passed below the original span and the new span being built parallel to it, her foremast and mainmast caught the safety netting slung below the new bridge. Both masts were snapped off about seven-eighths of the way up each mast, the upper parts left hanging dangerously from the remaining upright parts of the masts. As a result, the ship had to undergo emergency repairs. The bridge's second span was completed in 1973.
The posted traffic speed limit is 55 miles per hour.
Panorama from the south, showing the northbound span and Amtrak bridge
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