Unfortunately for General Washington, this bridge was not yet built when he made his historic crossing of the Delaware River into New Jersey at this site on Christmas night of 1776. While out of context for that historic event which is celebrated and remembered today in the form of parks on both sides of the river next to the bridge, this historic bridge nevertheless contributes to the heritage experience at this historical location in the United States. As such, it is a contributing resource to a bi-state historic district.
This bridge is a rare, long, multi-span example of a double-intersection Warren through truss. While it has a narrow deck width, it is configured for two lanes of traffic. Motorist safety is ensured by low speed limits and trucks cannot use the bridge. At one point, the Delaware Joint Toll Bridge Commission who owns this bridge considered banning the new Hummer cars from this bridge because of the vehicle's excessive size.
The bridge is in good structural condition. It was heavily damaged with over half of the bottom chord damaged and destroyed in a 1955 flood. It has been rehabilitated most recently in 1994, and a number of members have been replaced, but at the same time the bridge retains its original function and design, and due to its rare design, it remains a significant bridge.
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.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 6-span double intersection Warren thru truss bridge supported on the rubble masonry substructure dating to 1831 is a contributing resource to the previous listed Washington Crossing HD. It links the two sections of the district; one in Pennsylvania and the other in New Jersey. The bridge was rehabilitated by Lichtenstein & Associates in 1994.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridges carries the road that connects PA 32 (River Road) with NJ 29 over the Delaware River at Washington Crossing. Its approaches are located in Washington Crossing State Park, which commemorates that fateful night in 1776. The park, which is located on both sides of the river, is a bi-state historic district, and the bridge is a contributing resource to the historic district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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