This bridge is a very unique and historically significant bridge. Its design is unusual because it contains multiple, relatively short suspension spans. Most suspension bridges that are familiar today are much larger bridges that contains only two suspension towers. This bridge contains four. This bridge has unusual and original floorbeams that have post-tension bars built underneath the main built-up beams. Riegelsville Bridge also includes lightweight double-warren stiffening truss. The bridge is also noteworthy and significant for association with the bridge company formed by one of the most famous suspension bridge builders, John Roebling.
This bridge is owned by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC). The DRJTBC has a unique commitment to maintaining the many historic bridges under its ownership, and working with the communities the bridges serve, and sets an example for the rest of the country to follow. The front page of their website often features a photo of a historic bridge, and their slogan is "Preserving Our Past, Enhancing Our Future." How many other road/bridge agencies in the United States promote their commitment to historic bridges in this way? Not many.
Not only is the DRJTBC an example of how money might be better spent in regards to non-toll bridges, the DRJTBC bridges are also a great reference when arguing that a historic bridge can be rehabilitated and can also safely continue to function as a vehicular crossing.
In 2010, this bridge was rehabilitated. The bridge received structural repairs, a fresh coat of paint, and other improvements. Low visual impact cable railings were added to the bridge, mounted on the stiffening truss. The engineering firm for the rehabilitation was Ammann and Whitney and the on-site contractor was Neshaminy Constructors, Inc.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 3-span cable suspension bridge supported on ashlar piers from earlier bridges was placed in 1904 to replace one lost in the great 1903 flood. The floor beams have kingpost post tensioning, which appears to be an original detail. When the bridge was completed, Prof. J.M. Porter of Lehigh Univ. questioned the adequacy of the design, and two, 1 3/4" cables were added to provide additional support. The bridge was made free in 1923, and it is owned by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. The bridge was sensitively rehabilitated in 1984. The bridge is significant for its type and association with the Roeblings, and it is located in and contributing to a potential historic district.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a two lane road over the Delaware River connecting the Pennsylvania and New Jersey portions of Riegelsville. The historic Riegel paper mill is on the east side of the river. Riegelsville is a potential historic district, on both sides of the river, and the bridge would be a contributing resource to it.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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