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Cementon Bridge

Cementon Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 30, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Main Street / 21st Street (PA-329) Over Lehigh River and Railroad
Cementon: Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and Northampton County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Metal 7 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1933 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Pennsylvania State Highway Department

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
159 Feet (48.5 Meters)
Structure Length
575 Feet (175.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
22 Feet (6.71 Meters)
3 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge's future is at risk!

Bridge Status: This historic bridge is slated for demolition and replacement!

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

This bridge is an excellent example of a state standard plan through truss bridge in Pennsylvania, as well as a good example of a standard highway plate girder span. The bridge has three through truss spans and one through plate girder approach span. The bridge retains excellent historic integrity, including all original railings. Very minor repairs/alterations were observed such as a plate bolted to a vertical member, but none diminish the overall design and materials of the bridge.

PennDOT has been trying to get this bridge demolished and replaced with an ugly slab of concrete. Fortunately, the funding was canceled and so the project may be delayed for a few years at most. Perhaps instead, PennDOT should consider the less costly and preservation-promoting alternative of rehabilitating this bridge for continued vehicular use. Structurally, there is nothing major wrong with this bridge at all, and it could certainly be rehabilitated for far less than the cost of replacement.

Standard plan truss bridges such as this have been all been discarded by the Historic Bridge Inventory as not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, despite some rehabilitation projects, many of these bridges are also being demolished, and they are becoming less common. Larger examples, such as this multi-span bridge at Cementon stand out as more noteworthy than smaller examples. Regardless of their National Register eligibility, these bridges do have heritage value and a great deal of aesthetic value as well. They are sturdy bridges with decent deck width. Their rehabilitation and preservation is generally less than the cost of replacement, and promotes the preservation of Commonwealth heritage and beauty. They should not be demolished.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 4-span, 575'-long bridge consists of 3 identical Pratt thru truss spans and one built-up thru girder span, all supported on a concrete substructure. A sidewalk is cantilevered from one side of the bridge. Constructed in 1933 by the state highway department, the rivet-connected truss is a large but relatively late example of the truss technology that was developed in the late-19th century and was used with great frequency through the first 3 decades of the 20th century. The bridge is not historically or technologically significant. The bridge was built after the period of significance of the Lehigh Canal Historic District and is thus not a contributing resource to it.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The Cementon bridge carries a 2 lane street and a sidewalk over the Lehigh River and a filled-in section of the Lehigh Canal between Cementon and the Borough of Northampton. The towns are comprised of mixed 20th century structures of residential, commercial and industrial use. The areas of town contiguous to the bridge do not appear to have historic district potential. The Lehigh Canal Historic District, listed 12/17/1979, is the right-of-way of the old Lehigh Canal along the river's north bank. The district has a period of significance from 1840 to 1931, the active years of the canal.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Initially, No, But Inventory Lists As Eligible in 2001


Photo Galleries and Videos: Cementon Bridge

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Bridge Photo-Documentation
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A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Westbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Eastbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Cementon Bridge

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