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Waterville - Winslow Bridge

   


Waterville - Winslow Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 17, 2012
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
US-201 Over Kennebec River
Location
Waterville: Kennebec County, Maine
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1909 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1990
Main Span Length
145 Feet (44.2 Meters)
Structure Length
575 Feet (175.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
62 Feet (18.9 Meters)
Spans
5 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
2854

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View An Article About The Waterville Trolley System

This is a bridge that looks modern from on the roadway. However looking under the bridge it is immediately apparent that this bridge has had a unique history. As it appears today, the bridge consists of three different bridge structures with three different construction dates, positioned directly next to each other and sharing a common deck and roadway. The downstream side of the bridge has an unusually narrow concrete arch structure. The center of the roadway is supported by a stringer/beam bridge composed of built-up riveted beams. Finally, the upstream side has a series of modern variable depth beams.

The original story of this bridge is equally interesting. The reason the bridge's arch portion is so unusually narrow is because it was designed not for vehicular traffic, but for a single trolley track. When this bridge was built in 1909, it also included a metal pin-connected deck truss directly next to it, flush with the piers of the concrete arch. It is not known if the deck truss also dates to 1909, or if it was an existing structure. The deck truss served pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A historical photo showing construction of the arch is available here.

Later, the deck truss was replaced. It may have been destroyed in a large flood in 1935. The National Bridge Inventory gives a 1936 construction date for the entire bridge. This is not accurate for the arch portion. As such, it is assumed this 1936 date refers to when the deck truss was replaced. The built-up riveted stringer/beam structure replaced the deck truss. Even later, in 1971-1973 according to the Historic Bridge Inventory, the modern variable depth beams were added to the upstream side to widen the bridge. It is not known when the arch spans for the trolley were incorporated into the highway bridge, if it occurred in 1936, or during the 1970s project. The last trolley crossed the bridge in 1937. This date is so close to date for the the 1936 spans, it seems that perhaps it was indeed in at this time that the arch spans became part of the highway crossing. In any case, this incorporation of the arches served to widen the vehicular bridge as well.

Maine's Historic Bridge Inventory unfortunately got the history of this bridge nearly completely wrong. It claims the arch span was built in 1936, with stringers added in 1971-1973. As such, it fails to mention the riveted beams on the bridge, instead assigning the presumed date for the riveted beams to the date of the arch bridge. The problem with this is that the inventory not only assumes that the arch dates to 1936, it fails to associate this arch with the trolley system. These facts greatly increase the historic significance of the bridge. While the bridge has been widened, and the deck is replaced, the arches themselves remain essentially unaltered. Many preservation projects that rehabilitate historic concrete arch bridges actually result in an arch bridge with less original material than is found on this bridge. The arch portions of this bridge should be evaluated as historic. They are among the oldest concrete arch spans in the entire state of Maine.

Information and Findings From Maine's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 5 span, 575'-long bridge was originally built as an arch bridge constructed in 1936. It was widened to the upstream side with a stringer extension on a concrete substructure in 1971-1973, and it typed as a stringer bridge in TINIS. Both sides are finished with tubular railings that were placed when the bridge was widened. The bridge is a later example of both technologies, and it is neither historically nor technologically significant. It has the appearance of a modern bridge. There may be individually significant buildings near the bridge, but it is not located in a potential historic district.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 4 lane highway over a stream on the Waterville-Winslow line in a urban setting that includes large textile mills. The bridge is not located in a potential historic district, and it has a modern appearance, so it is not in character with the nearby textile mill.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No

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