This bridge is one of several standard plan type truss bridges that tend to date to the 1920s-1940 that are located in or just outside of Johnstown. Bridges like this one are often discarded by historic bridge inventories because they are declared undistinguished and common technology. Indeed, this was certainly the case when they were built. The fact that multiple examples of relatively similar design characteristics remain in Johnstown testifies to that fact. However, these bridges are rapidly being demolished and this is partly due to the fact that these inventories didn't even bother to consider their historic value.
Inventories should look at the fact that some of these older bridges may seem common when the inventory is taken, and then consider that even though this is the case, bridges like this are no longer being built today, and those that survive are being demolished. As such, even if the bridge is not all that rare today, it might be rare soon, and as such it should be declared historic. Perhaps the government should define a third designation for historic bridges that references bridges that are "prospectively rare and historic" meaning that as bridges are demolished, a particular bridge will then become more rare and historic. In addition, one must take into account that these bridges from this era, whether historic or not, are complex and beautiful structures that are a real asset to a city like Johnstown, and are also monuments to a city that was closely associated to the steel industry.
For a city the size of Johnstown, an unusually high number of metal truss bridges remain in the city. For this reason, these bridges should be considered part of a historic group, meaning that while an individual bridge may be of limited significance, the fact that so many are located in one city means that Johnstown is almost like a bridge museum. As such, the preservation of all metal truss bridges in Johnstown should be considered. The town already attracts tourists, particularly those interested in historic. Attractions include the Johnstown Incline Plane and the Cambria steel facilities. Creating a self-guided historic truss bridge tour might be something the city could consider in conjunction with a comprehensive preservation program that would ensure that all of the city's metal truss bridges are preserved. The city could also coordinate with the surrounding area, as a few bridges are located outside of city limits, but are still close enough to fit into this group of historic truss bridges.
The Hickory Street Bridge displays a polygonal Warren truss configuration making it different from the Parker truss standards that Pennsylvania State Highway Department often used.
A visit in 2014 found that the bridge was in the middle of a major rehabilitation. The greater Johnstown area has been extremely lucky to have a number of its riveted truss bridges rehabilitated rather than replaced in the years between 2008 and 2014. At least five riveted truss bridges in the region had been rehabilitated during those years.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1937, riveted, single span, 236'-long, Warren with verticals thru truss bridge is supported on concrete abutments with flared wingwalls. The bridge is an example of a common technology with no innovative or distinctive details. It was erected as part of the rebuilding efforts following the devastating 1936 St. Patrick's Day flood. Over 275 bridges, mostly in the western and central portions of Pennsylvania, were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. To replace them the state highway department turned to established technologies like riveted steel truss bridges, used in the state since ca. 1890. The bridge is neither historically nor technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane city street and 2 sidewalks over a channelized river between the Hornerstown and Kernville sections of Johnstown. Neither neighborhood has the cohesiveness of a potential historic district. Hornerstown to the east is a mixture of modest early 20th century vernacular houses, abandoned industrial buildings and, at the northeast quadrant, modern commercial development. Kernville to the west is also a neighborhood of modest early 20th century houses with an undistinguished post-WW II strip commercial area.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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