This bridge is a unique and beautiful structure. That it is an example of a lattice truss (sometimes referred to as Warren Quadrangular) is enough to make the bridge noteworthy, since this is an uncommon truss configuration. However, the additional facts that it is a highway bridge example of this type, and moreover contains three truss lines means that this a very significant historic bridge that should receive a high priority for preservation. Any old truss bridge containing three or more truss lines is uncommon and significant, however finding a lattice truss with three truss line is extremely rare. In addition, the Salem Street Bridge appears to retain an excellent degree of historic integrity, with no major alterations noted.
Despite the high level of significance that this bridge has, MassHighway is in the design stage of a project to demolish and replace this historic truss bridge with a mundane slab of concrete. In state that has displayed a commitment to historic bridge preservation elsewhere, it remains unclear why they have ignored the thought of preserving this bridge. The bridge may have structural problems underneath the deck (HistoricBridghes.org did not have time to conduct an under-bridge inspection during photo-documentation) but these could be corrected, even if it required replacement of the complete flooring system. The trusses themselves are in great condition and even the paint is not rusting, with only minor section loss (which could be corrected) at the bottom chord connection gusset plates noted.
Long story short, the bridge probably could be rehabilitated for less than the cost of demolition and replacement and continue to safely carry vehicular traffic. However, if for whatever reason, rehabilitation of the bridge in place for continued vehicular use was deemed unacceptable, than this bridge should be carefully disassembled, relocated, and restored in a new location, likely for pedestrian use. It would make a great addition to a scenic trail somewhere. Its wide deck, separated by the center truss line, would lend itself well to using one side for the non-motorized traffic, and the other half could house benches and picnic tables for people to stop and enjoy the bridge and any scenery in the bridge's location.
Either way, plans to demolish this historic bridge should be canceled and a preservation solution selected.
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