This bridge is a grade separation carrying highway over railroad. It includes a lengthy earth approach to elevate the road over the tracks. It was built by the noteworthy Phoenix Bridge Company. The bridge (in 2015) was in great shape, a well-maintained historic bridge.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
The massive 8-panel Warren thru truss is the only example of its type in the county. It is supported on scored concrete abutments and has concrete jack arches between the stringers. The bridge was built to replace a private farm road overhead crossing by the Reading Railroad in 1918, and the truss type is a frequent although not common pre-1940 selection for a long, wide bridges. The bridge is well preserved and is historically important to Manville's development.
The bridge carries a 2-lane residential street and one sidewalk over 6 active tracks of the former Reading Railroad Delaware & Bound Brook line. Manville is a company town that grew up around the Johns-Manville Corporation beginning in 1913. Most of the homes are modest Colonial Revival dwellings. They have been too altered (window replacement, modern sidings, etc.) to possess historic district potential.
The single-span, 8-panel Warren with verticals thru truss bridge is 116'-5" long from end bearing to bearing and 28'-wide from truss center to center. It is of riveted construction and is in a good state of preservation with only minor alterations and deterioration. The design of the bridge reflects the 20th century advance of truss designs to address secondary stresses. The bridge carries a 2-lane residential street over 6 active tracks of Conrail's main freight line known as the New York Branch. A cantilevered sidewalk with lattice railing extends from the southern truss elevation. The bridge members consist of the following steel elements: the upper chords and inclined end posts are channels with cover plates and lacing; the verticals, which pick up floor beams, and diagonals are laced angles; the upper laterals are laced angles with bracing, except for the portals which have lattice bracing; the stringers are I-beams with concrete jack arches and encased (some has failed) tie rods. The concrete abutments and wing walls are scored and inscribed with the Reading Railroad diamond logo and the date 1918. The high banked approaches have concrete parapets. The bridge is in good condition with some spalling and deterioration of the concrete encasing, jack arches, and abutments. Some of the upper chord and lower chord riveted connections have been repaired with bolts. Concrete has been poured in the gap formed between the diagonals and the gusset plate connections at the lower chord.
Historical and Technological Significance
The well-preserved riveted Warren with verticals thru truss bridge is the only example of its type in the county. It is a type associated with the railroads, and while not uncommon in the state (there are five in Union County built between 1907 and 1926 and several in Hudson County the were also built by the CNJ), this is one of the few Warren thru truss highway bridges in the middle portion of the state making. The bridge type was favored by the railroad where a long span with reasonably high load capacity was needed. The bridge is historically important to the development of Manville, a company town started in 1913. It connected the central downtown commercial and industrial area with residential development on the east side of the railroad tracks (criteria A, C). The railroad right-of-way spanned by the bridge was originally developed in the mid-1870s by the Reading Railroad as its Delaware and Bound Brook Line. Completed in 1875, the line was begun to provide an alternative route between New York and Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Railroad's acquisition of the old Camden and Amboy right-of-way. The Reading Railroad route left the Central New Jersey Railroad's main line at Bound Brook and headed south across the Raritan River to Manville and on to Philadelphia. In 1976, Conrail acquired the bankrupt Reading Railroad, and has continued to use the route for freight trains. In 1913, the Johns-Manville Corporation established its largest factory in the company town of Manville. By 1930, the 282 acre plant employed over 1,700 and produced a wide array of asbestos products including textiles, packing, brake linings, and shingles. Prior to the construction of Johns-Manville, a private farm bridge had provided an overhead crossing of the Reading Railroad at, or near, the location of Bridge Street. With the establishment of the town, it was proposed to make the private road public, and the Reading Railroad made plans to improve the crossing. Initially, a thru girder bridge was proposed, but this was set aside for an alternative thru truss design. Plans for the concrete substructure were prepared by the Philadelphia and Reading RR, and the Phoenix Bridge Co. of Phoenixville, PA fabricated the superstructure. The Phoenix Bridge Co. was the sister company of the Phoenix Steel Co., and one of the nation's largest, oldest, and most prestigious bridge builders, specializing in the manufacture of steel structural components and the erection of bridges of many types. In 1918 bridge construction was completed.
Boundary Description and Justification
Although the bridge is located in Manville, a corporate town with historical significance, the area adjacent to the span does not possess the integrity necessary to be evaluated as a potential historic district. Thus, the bridge is individually significant, and the boundary is limited to the superstructure and substructure of the span itself.
Gibb, Hugh. "Brotherly Love - Philadelphia Style," in Bulletin of the National Railway Society, v. 39, No. 6, 1974, pp. 21-43. Mustin, M. ed., Somerset County, New Jersey 1688-1930. Somerville: Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, 1930. p. 13. New Jersey Dept. of Transportation. Bridge Plans and Cards, #1850167. Trenton, NJ. Poor's Manual of the Railroads, various years. Waddell, J.A.L. Bridge Engineering. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1925.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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