The Bardwell's Ferry Bridge is a beautiful, nationally significant example of the rare lenticular truss bridge type. The bridge has been well maintained and preserved for vehicular traffic, and most importantly, this has been done without altering the original design and thus affecting the high level of historic integrity that this bridge continues to display. For instance, modern crash-tested barriers have been added, properly mounted to the deck so as to protect the bridge's trusses from damage, but at the same time the original and tiny rod railings have been left in place behind these new guardrails. Very few rivets have been replaced with bolts. Original built-up fishtail style floorbeams remain on this bridge. Clearly, despite being maintained for vehicular traffic, this bridge enjoys a high degree of historic integrity. Massachusetts deserves to be thanked for maintaining the structural and historic integrity of this bridge, and hopefully they will continue to do so.
The bridge includes a riveted plate girder approach span. It is possible, however unproven, that there may have been a lenticular pony truss approach span here that was replaced at a later date. Riveted plate girders were not very common on highways in 1882, but were used into the 1920s and 1930s in some states.
Be sure to view the HAER documentation for this bridge as it includes an extensive historical narrative and measured drawings. Engineers will especially enjoy one of the measured drawings which explains how the lenticular truss bridge functions as a unique truss structure. The bridge operates similar to a combination of an arch and cable type of system.
This bridge is nationally significant as a rare surviving example of a lenticular truss bridge, and even among all the lenticular truss bridges an extremely significant bridge. On a statewide basis, the bridge is further significant as the longest remaining lenticular truss span and also the oldest surviving example. Even nationally, this bridge is among the oldest and longest of the lenticular truss bridges. The bridge predates the name change that the Corrugated Metal Company made to the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in 1883 which is why the builder name is listed as Corrugated Metal Company for this 1882 bridge.
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