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Emerald Street Footbridge

Emerald Street Footbridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: December 23, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Emerald Street Over Railroad (Canadian National)
Hamilton: Hamilton City, Ontario: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is an extremely unusual and rare example of a continuous truss footbridge. The continuous aspect of the bridge represents a less common and more advanced engineering effort than a simple span truss. The bridge has stairways that lead up to the bridge at each end and meet the bridge at a 90 degree angle. This leads to an odd aspect of the bridge due to the stairways, where the trusses are skewed so that the end of the truss beside to the stairway does not block the stairway exit. The bridge rests on riveted steel bents. The bridge appears to retain excellent historic integrity. The trusses and railings are original and unaltered. The only obvious and substantial alteration is that the supports under the stairways, composed of heavier rolled beams, do not appear to be original to the bridge.

The Hamilton Heritage Bridge assessment is somewhat confusing about this bridge. The date is listed as 1915, but apparently that refers to a previous footbridge that was replaced by this bridge somewhere between 1946 and 1955. Adding to the confusion is the fact that visually the bridge looks older than a bridge from the 1940s or 1950s because of its lightweight riveted trusses and traditional lattice railing. However, pedestrian bridges can sometimes appear older than they are because they did not have to be built as massive as highway bridges from the same period.

When no trains are coming, locals appear to be somewhat lazy as they tend to walk across the tracks rather than dealing with climbing the stairs to utilize the bridge. Regardless of how frequently the bridge is actually used, this bridge should be carefully maintained and preserved as a unique heritage bridge.

Information and Findings From Hamilton's Heritage Bridge Structure Assessment Report

Asset/Bridge ID: 186-1043
Street and crossing: Emerald-C.N. line
Date of survey: 15/07/02
Built heritage inventory file no: 614186
Heritage Evaluation Score and Grade: 43,C
Bridge type: Truss
No. of spans: 3
Construction period: 1940-1955
Date if known:1915

Construction material(s) and Details: Steel piers support this steel truss, which is riveted together.
The timber deck is in good condition while the steel shows some signs of deterioration.

Integrity: There is no evidence of alteration.

Historical associations: This structure was constructed as a replacement to the previously existing
foot bridge, which was deemed unsafe by the city in 1946. Much debate surrounded the design of
the predecessor. Local residents wanted a road bridge constructed, as traffic cannot travel north
bound on Emerald Street because of the tracks. The city would not allow a road bridge or a levelcross
to take the former bridge's place. Therefore, this steel footbridge was decided upon.

Notes: This structure scored respectably. The age, integrity, and historical associations of this
structure raised its heritage value. The scarcity of this design type contributed to the heritage value
of this structure.

Documentation: News articles from the Hamilton Spectator were found in the Special Collection
department of the Hamilton Public Library.


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