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Water Street Bridge

Fire Fighters' Memorial Bridge


Water Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 14, 2008
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Water Street Over Susquehanna River
Pittston: Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1914 By Builder/Contractor: Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
202 Feet (61.6 Meters)
Structure Length
1016 Feet (309.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
21 Feet (6.4 Meters)
5 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is one of two similar bridges in the area, but soon will be the only one when PennDOT demolishes the 8th Street Bridge. As such, the preservation of the Water Street Bridge is extremely important. Water Street Bridge is a county owned bridge not PennDOT owned so perhaps that will help. Also, the city of Pittston seems to like and appreciate this historic bridge. There is decorative colored lighting on the bridge and a scaled  model of one of the bridge spans forms the display for a welcome sign to a park adjacent to the bridge. In addition, the bridge has been designated Firefighters' Memorial Bridge and this should provide the bridge with more local importance and support for preservation. A beautiful historic bridge like the Water Street Bridge is an excellent and very respectful way to honor firefighters, far more than any ugly new bridge would be. Hopefully  Luzerne County and the city of Pittston continue to appreciate and maintain this centerpiece for the city.

This bridge is a large five span pin-connected Parker truss bridge. The bridge was built by the prominent Pennsylvania-based Penn Bridge Company. It is historically significant as a representative example of a late pin-connected truss bridge, and also as a large, multi-span example of a pin-connected truss bridge. There are very few remaining examples of large multi-span pin-connected truss bridges on a statewide basis.

HistoricBridges.org documented this bridge in the last hour of discernable daylight, so the current photos are not very good. We do hope to revisit this bridge for a final re-documentation.

This bridge is a pin-connected truss bridge, and an extremely large multi-span example. Thanks to PennDOT it is also an extremely rare bridge type in Pennsylvania today. The Susquehanna River used to be teeming with large multi-span truss bridges, both riveted and pinned, but they have been being demolished at a  rapid rate. The Pennsylvania Historic Bridge Inventory dismissed nearly all pin-connected truss bridges built after 1910 as not historic and not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, regardless of integrity, size, or construction date. Given the rate of demolition and reduction of surviving examples of this bridge type, HistoricBridges.org strongly disagrees with this finding. Indeed, the fact that any truss bridge over 50 years old of this size would be considered not historic is ridiculous considering the fact that the bridge type has largely been considered archaic by engineers for decades now. It is outdated and further disproved by the fact that other states and other historic resource consultants found similar bridges eligible in other states. The Pennsylvania historic bridge inventory operates on the philosophy that historic significant arises only from innovative, prototypical engineering, and that significance does not arise from good representative examples of structures from a period in history. This appears to go against the philosophy of the National Register of Historic Places which has accepted structures from both categories in other states. The information below from the Historic Bridge Inventory is provided for structure information and reference only. HistoricBridges.org does not agree with the findings of the below historic bridge inventory assessment.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 5 span, 1016'-long steel pin-connected Parker thru truss bridge built in 1914 is traditionally composed of eye bar tension members and built-up compression members of standard sections. It is supported on stone piers and abutments with extensive concrete repairs including concrete caps, and encased or replaced cutwaters. The deck, stringers, and truss bearings were replaced in 1984. Welded repairs included plate welded to some diagonals at the lower panel points. Original railings have been replaced by W-beam guide rails at the roadway face of the trusses and a tubular metal railing at the cantilevered sidewalk. The altered bridge is a late example of the pin-connected truss bridge type/design that was introduced about 1870 by engineer Charles Parker. The Parker truss is a variation of the Pratt truss with a polygonal top chord. The type/design continued to be used for longer span crossings through the first decades of the 20th century because of economy of design, ease of erection, and pin connections, which were still considered a favorable means of handling secondary stresses in longer span trusses. The bridge was fabricated by the Penn Bridge Co., a prolific builder in the state since the 1870s. It has no unusual or noteworthy features. It is not historically or technologically distinguished by its setting or context.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane road and 1 sidewalk over a stream in an urban setting of predominantly early to late 20th century buildings. At the northwest end (West Pittston) is a residential area with a mix of early to late 20th century houses and parking lots along the river. At the southeast end (Pittston) is a modern supermarket and dairy bar. The eastern span crosses a single track of Conrail that parallels the river. The setting does not have the cohesiveness or integrity of a historic district.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No


Photos and Videos: Water Street Bridge

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