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This bridge is a large viaduct that carries Central Avenue over four railroad tracks and Lewis Avenue. The length of the bridge proper from abutment to abutment is 417 feet (127.2 meters), but if the long approach system, , is included the length jumps to a very impressive 1007.5 feet (307.1 meters). The approach system appears to be composed of an earthen-filled ramp contained within concrete retaining wall panels. The bridge itself is composed of a through truss span of 204 feet (62.1 meters) that carries the road over the railroad tracks, a pony truss span of 76 feet (23.2 meters) that carries the roadway over Lewis Street, and three deck plate girder spans totaling 137.5 feet (41.9 meters). The bridge retains outstanding historic integrity with no major alterations noted. Original standard Ontario ornamental railings remain on both the bridge and the approach system. Plaques also remain on the bridge.
Henry Hagey provides a detailed description of the consulting engineer for this bridge, Charles Ralph Hagey as well as the photo seen below. Charles Ralph Hagey was a prominent engineer in Ontario who was born March 30, 1893 and died February 14, 1961. His firm, C.R. Hagey Engineering Associates of Fort Erie was the consulting engineer for the Central Avenue Bridge. Like many engineering firms, the name changed over time, and an earlier name of the firm was Hagey and Gray Engineering, and the original name was Ontario Engineering Company, which he formed in 1927 together with Maxim T. Grey. Hagey was associated with other significant engineering projects including the Peace Bridge as well as being a consultant for the construction of the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge in 1939-41.
The builder of the superstructure was Bridge and Tank Company of Canada, which was the name that the prolific and long-lived Hamilton Bridge Company was using at the time this bridge was constructed. The Hamilton Bridge Company was known by several different names throughout its history. For consistency, HistoricBridges.org lists the builder name for all bridges built by this company by its most common name, Hamilton Bridge Company.
The on-site contractor for the bridge was Cameron and Phin of Welland, Ontario. This firm was known as Maguire, Cameron and Phin, since this is the name cited when they did work on Welland's Main Street Bridge in 1929-1931. Cameron and Phin reportedly went out of business in the 1970s.
This bridge is historically and technologically significant as a large, unaltered example of mid-20th Century bridge engineering. It is also noteworthy for its association with local engineers and contractors. It also is an example of a significant and rapidly disappearing bridge type, the metal truss bridge. The bridge is also visually a local landmark, with its significant approaches and uncommon combination of truss span types. The trusses themselves are visually pleasing and more interesting to look at than any modern bridge.
Despite the visual and heritage value of this bridge, demolition and replacement was the fate of this bridge. The demolition of this bridge continues the trend of rapid and widespread demolition of bridges with heritage value in Ontario. The overall condition of this bridge did not appear to be very bad, and rehabilitation was certainly feasible for this bridge. It would have been nice to see demolition plans halted and a preservation plan developed for this bridge. A small section of the heritage truss bridge was placed on the replacement bridge as shown below, courtesy of Ed Blasinski.
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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