Snapshot: Providence River Pedestrian Bridge

The new $22 million bridge sure looks pretty at night.

Photograph by Wolf Matthewson.

In this city, Sharon Steele says, a project needs an advocate or it doesn’t get done. That’s why, after watching the Providence River pedestrian bridge groan under the foot of bureaucracy, the real estate broker and consultant decided to do something about it. “The impetus for creating Building Bridges Providence was to hold a gun to the head of the [Department of Transportation] and force them to get the project off the ground,” she says of the nonprofit advocacy group she founded in 2016. Her will prevailed. At $21.9 million, the bridge, which opened to the public over the summer, cost roughly seven times its original estimate due to design changes and rising construction rates. “I am not in any way minimizing this; it’s an extraordinary amount of money,” she says. “But this bridge has already been the game changer that we said from the very beginning. It is delivering for every single community in this city.” The DOT has since transferred ownership of the bridge to Providence. But Steele will still be there, strolling between her office in the Jewelry District and appointments on the East Side, keeping watch. “I’m a control freak,” she says.