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Neshanic Station Bridge

Neshanic Station Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 11, 2008

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Elm Street Over South Branch Raritan River
Neshanic Station: Somerset County, New Jersey: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1896 By Builder/Contractor: Berlin Iron Bridge Company of East Berlin, Connecticut
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
141.0 Feet (43 Meters)
Structure Length
285.0 Feet (86.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
13 Feet (3.96 Meters)
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View A Historical Article About A New Berlin Iron Bridge Company Shop in 1891

This bridge is one of only two known lenticular truss bridges in the state, and is the most significant of the two. It is a noteworthy example of its type because it is a multi-span example. The bridge displays the classic lenticular shape and ornatmental details of its patent-holding builder, Berlin Iron Bridge Company, with the ornate portal bracing and equally ornate builder plaque, and highly decorative pedestrian railings.

There is an odd welded portal-like construct in front of the bridge's original portals, which apparently dates back to the 1930s.

This historic bridge has been rehabilitated and preserved twice, once in 1984, and again in 2007. Some aspects of these rehabilitations were very sensitive to the historic character of the bridge and are commendable, while others seem like they harmed the character of the bridge significantly.

Some of the positive aspects of the rehab included avoiding the use of welded plates on the bridge, and supplementing original tension members with new members, rather than removing and replacing the original members. Also, the rehab maintained the design and function of the pin connections; the pins were replaced with new pins, not bypassed with a new system. Numerous rivets have been replaced with modern bolts, which is not preferable, however round-head bolts were used, which helps reduce the visual impact of the bolts, making at least half each bolt look like a rivet. Low profile, vehicular guiderails placed on the bridge are designed to protect the truss structure from collision damage, which is excellent. Finally, the original ornate sidewalk railings have been preserved in their original condition.

On the other hand, there were some negative aspects of the rehabilitation. Floorbeams on the bridge are not original and are all modern rolled beams, marking a significant loss to the beauty of the bridge. The original beams on this bridge were unusual rolled beams with tension rods mounted below them, making them extremely rare and unusual floorbeams. Photos of the original floorbeams are available here. Their replacement is a significant loss. The entire top chord has had a strengthening beam placed inside the box section. While this is a great way to strengthen the bridge, the attractive v-lacing that would originally have been on the underside of the top chord was removed. It would have been nice to see the v-lacing re-attached after the strengthening beam was inserted.

All that said, it is great to see a historic metal truss bridge preserved and continuing to serve vehicular traffic safely and effectively. Driving across a lenticular truss bridge is a very enjoyable experience, and thanks to the preservation of this bridge it will continue to be possible to have this experience in New Jersey.

Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 2-span lenticular truss bridge is one of the best surviving examples of the late-19th century truss type that was successfully marketed nationally by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company of Connecticut. It is a variation on the Pratt truss and is distinguished by its polygonal top and bottom chords. The end posts have been encased in concrete, and the bridge was strengthened in 1983, but it retains its integrity of original design. It is also a contributing element in a historic district.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a single lane over the river in the late-19th century community of Neshanic Station. The original setting of the bridge is well preserved. It is a contributing element in the Neshanic Mills Historic District. The lenticular truss bridge is in full view of another historically significant span, the 1896 pin-connected Pratt thru truss that carries the South Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey over the river.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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Maps and Links: Neshanic Station Bridge

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