Pin connected truss bridges fit in well with a wooded natural environment because of their delicate design, but in the case of Price Road, it practically disappears into its natural surroundings. It might as well have had camouflage on during the summer when green leaves are on the trees, which closely matched the pale green paint on the bridge.
The truth is that this bridge needed more than just a brighter paint color, such as a comprehensive rehabilitation. However, the only thing PennDOT decided to give it was a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse. The bridge was in rather poor condition, particularly at the lower chord. The lower chord is a typical trouble spot for a bridge, since moisture tends to accumulate, either from cars splashing water (and salt), from being near the dirt in the case of the end posts, and in some cases if the bridge sometimes is submersed during spring flooding. The end posts on the Price Road Bridge also showed considerable section loss, particularly on the cover plate. However, this bridge was not beyond saving even with these issues. Replacing a cover plate is not a big deal. The bottom chord could either be repaired or even replaced in-kind.
If only PennDOT tried as hard to find ways to preserve historic truss bridges as they do trying to find reasons to demolish historic truss bridges, Pennsylvania would be a lot better off.
The Historic Bridge Inventory initially made an accurate assessment of this bridge and found it to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, in 2001, someone decided that the bridge should be considered "Not Eligible" and the bridge was officially declared non-historic in the eyes of PennDOT. Even back in 2001, this is a questionable finding. This is a 19th Century pin-connected through truss associated with a specific bridge company and with no major alterations. Even back in 2001 it would be hard to justify listing it "Not Eligible." Fast forward to 2012, when a large number of pin-connected through truss bridges had been demolished in Pennsylvania, and with several even in Crawford County either demolished or slated for demolition. Surely with this dropping population, the bridge would be re-evaluated and found "Eligible." As much demolition and as little preservation goes on in Pennsylvania, what happened here in 2012 was stunning. The "Not Eligible" finding was not overturned, and unbelievably PennDOT's justification for upholding the "Not Eligible" finding was that two other older pin-connected through truss bridges, Mercer Pike Bridge and Wightman Road Bridge remained in the county. This is unbelievable because both of these bridges were at the time undergoing Section 106 Historic Review and as such were at risk for demolition. If the outcome of Section 106 was that demolition could not be avoided, the only argument PennDOT offered for finding the Price Road Bridge "Not Eligible" would be gone. As of 2013, the Mercer Pike Bridge has indeed been demolished. Moreover, regardless of what other bridges remain in the county, the fact is that the Price Road Bridge is a pin-connected through truss bridge from the 1800s. Such bridges are so old and sufficiently rare even in Pennsylvania, that any surviving examples that retain at least a decent level of historic integrity should automatically be considered eligible. This statement is not only the opinion of HistoricBridges.org, it is confirmed by actions in other states like Indiana and Michigan.
Upholding the "Not Eligible" finding allowed PennDOT to avoid having to conduct Section 106 Historic Review for this bridge. As such, if PennDOT's goal was to demolish and replace this bridge regardless of preservation feasibility, upholding the "Not Eligible" finding really made PennDOT's life a lot easier.
What incentive does PennDOT have to update its Historic Bridge Inventory to properly evaluate bridges like this? After all, with outdated assessments like the one for the Price Road Bridge, PennDOT can essentially bypass the Section 106 Historical Review process and thereby avoid having to produce documentation to attempt to justify their demolition of the historic bridge. PennDOT also avoids having to listen to consulting parties who may be aware that bridges like this are feasible to rehabilitate, often for less than the cost of replacement. Someone with the authority needs to force PennDOT to update its Historic Bridge Inventory to accurately reflect the historic significance of bridges like the Price Road Bridge here in the present day.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The ca. 1896, pin connected, single span, 86'-long, Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on concrete-filled steel caisson abutments. Although the bridge is traditionally composed, it stands out in the county population of over 35 metal truss bridges because of its completeness and details that are associated with fabricator the Youngstown Bridge Co. These include the lattice web portal brace with a radiating pattern in the knee braces. The verticals and top lateral bracing have laced webs. The documented bridge is a historically and technologically significant example of its type and design.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2 lane road over a stream in a sparsely developed, wooded setting that does not have historic district potential.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Initially, Yes, But Overturned and Found Not Historic in 2001.
Information and Findings in 2012 During Replacement Project Development
Discussion of Bridge
The bridge is not eligible. The structure was initially determined eligible through the Historic Bridge Inventory. During the 2001 final determination of eligibility, the bridge was determined not eligible. The bridge is a later example of its type. The bridge was constructed at a time when riveting technology was coming into existence. There are two earlier pin-connected Pratt Thru-trusses which still exist in the county: Mercer Pike Bridge (1888; BMS 20-2003-0020-0000) and Wightman Road Bridge (1887; BMS 20-7210-0620- 3014).
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