It is perhaps fitting this multi-span Parker truss bridge was located in a little community called Parker. The design of the truss spans on this bridge is similar to Tidioute Bridge, an attractive state standard truss plan. The Parker Bridge has a considerable 6.32% grade (slope) to it, which gives it an interesting and unique appearance. It was reportedly an important achievement when it was built, for it to be at this incline. The bridge is painted an attractive sky blue color. This is one of the few pre-1950 bridges on the Allegheny River outside of Pittsburgh to not be threatened with demolition. This is not saying that this bridge is safe from demolition, since PennDOT is turning one of this country's most scenic rivers into a concrete wasteland filled with ugly, modern bridges. When PennDOT runs out of older and more historic Allegheny River bridges to demolish, will this sturdy bridge with ample roadway width be targeted for demolition?
This is one of the longest bridges in the area, since it crosses the river at a wider spot, and also passes over an abandoned rail line at the east side.
The historic bridge inventory provides some good description of the bridge. However, the inventory's finding that the bridge is not significant is outdated in the context of this bridge's size compared against current state populations of this bridge type in 2013. While a number of state-standard truss bridges remain, the number of bridges with more than two through truss spans has dropped dramatically. Also, the Parker Bridge is fast-becoming one of the few remaining metal truss bridges of any kind on this area of the Allegheny River. Like so many of the truss bridges on the Allegheny River, both demolished and remaining, this bridge is deserving of far more than a scrapyard. Its historic and technological significance needs to be recognized and the bridge needs to be the recipient of a long-term preservation commitment.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The inclined, 4 span, 1,140'-long (2 @ 252', 1 @ 390', 1 @ 225') riveted Parker thru truss bridge built in 1934 is supported on concrete abutments with flared wingwalls and concrete column and cap beam bents on concrete pedestals. The heavy trusses are traditionally composed and were built to a state standard design. They have no innovative or distinctive details. Riveted metal truss bridges, common in the state by the early 20th century, were extensively built in Pennsylvania by the state highway department in the 1920s and 1930s. The span lengths are not noteworthy. Over 90 riveted Parker truss bridges erected after 1925 remain statewide. Neither the bridge nor its setting is historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a two lane state highway and a sidewalk over the Allegheny River and a Conrail right-of-way. Railroad tracks at the east end of the bridge have been removed and a hiking trail has been developed. To the east are an undistinguished brick factory building from ca. 1920 and a small development of post-WW II houses. To the west is a steep, forested ridge. The area does not have historic district potential.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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