This bridge is one of two extremely unusual swing bridges in Boston. With a truss structure that features four truss lines, this bridge is in many ways much like two truss bridges sitting side by side and sharing a single deck. This design is along an uncommon one, and coupled with the fact that it is a swing bridge only adds to the rarity of the structure.
The Northern Avenue Bridge features a through truss swing span in the center, with a single pin-connected Pratt through truss approach span (with vertical endposts) at each end of the bridge serving as an approach to the main span. There is also a small deck plate girder approach span.
This bridge's main span has a similar design and appearance to the larger Charlestown Bridge. However, the Northern Avenue Bridge should be considered to have an equal or greater historic value because it retains integrity of design, includes through truss approach spans, and is in a location that is accessible to those wishing to view and photograph the bridge. The Northern Avenue Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic, but remains an important crossing for pedestrians. The Northern Avenue Bridge has been the target of discussion both in favor of demolition as well as restoration. In 2008, half of the bridge-tender house which was slowly falling into the river (see photo to the right) was demolished rather than preserved. However, the historic bridge itself remains, and its restoration is essential. A restored Northern Avenue Bridge would be a beautiful and functional landmark in downtown Boston. As of 2013, the trend has been toward the preservation of this bridge. For decoration, flowers have been planted on the bridge deck, and LED lighting has been added as well.
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