This massive bridge is the sort of bridge that makes Pennsylvania's landscape so special and beautiful. The bridge's extremely heavy lattice portal bracing contrasts with the intricate and delicate v-lacing and lattice that composes the all of the built-up beams of the bridge, and nearly all beams on the bridge are built-up. This design, combined with the graceful Parker truss shape forms a beautiful bridge that provides a grand gateway for historic Kittanning. Absolutely spectacular elevated views of this bridge of Kittanning can be had from the bluffs on the west side.
The Kittanning Bridge has 47 foot navigational clearance. There is 14.5 foot vertical clearance overhead. The bridge is 48.75, with a 30 foot roadway (containing three 10 foot lanes) and two 6.7 foot sidewalks. The Kittanning Bridge features composite pier construction with a masonry base that extends just slightly above the average water level. The remainder of the pier is reinforced concrete.
The Kittanning Bridge sits at a long-lived crossing and is the fourth bridge on the location. Previous bridges included a covered bridge and an iron bowstring truss bridge. Stone blocks from one of the previous bridges sit on the Kittanning shore and hold a plaque listing all the bridges. Of all the bridges, the current bridge is the longest-lived of all the bridges.
This bridge's trusses were used to form the suspension bridge filmed in the movie Mothman Prophesies.
The bridge was extensively rehabilitated in 1983. This rehabilitation included significant repairs to the steel truss superstructure, including end posts, floorbeams, sidewalks, and other elements.
In a rare gesture of good faith to taxpayers and preservationists, PennDOT has made the logical decision to rehabilitate this bridge rather than demolish and replace it. As of 2010, plans to rehabilitate the bridge are complete and ready to go as soon as funding becomes available. A 2011 start date seems the most likely time frame. The proposed rehabilitation is largely a deck repair and repainting project that will also repair the piers and combine some routine maintenance items. Major work items for the 2011 rehabilitation include: bridge superstructure painting, deck repair, approach slab concrete repair, and substructure repairs. Other items include joint sealing, flushing the deck drainage system, and applying an epoxy-based surface treatment. Other interesting issues identified as part of the rehabilitation included the detection of lead and other potentially hazardous elements in the existing bridge paint (prior to rehabilitation). Rehabilitation will correct these issues by applying an organic zinc-rich coating system.
The Kittanning Bridge is one of the larger examples of a state standard plan truss bridge in Pennsylvania. Like many states, during the 1920s-1940s, Pennsylvania had a set of standard truss bridge plans that it used for bridge construction during that period. The designs varied slightly over the years and also varied based on the size and configuration of the crossing. Each state had its own particular general design however. Ohio for instance had state standard plan bridges with a very plain design, nearly all beams being rolled instead of built-up. New York favored polygonal Warren truss bridges. Pennsylvania had perhaps the most visually impressive and beautiful of the state standard truss bridges however. Their designs favored the traditional truss types of the Parker and Pratt, and their beauty stemmed greatly from a frequent use of massive, imposing portal bracings that gave the bridge an impressive appearance. In addition, Pennsylvania favored built-up beams with v-lacing and lattice for its larger spans such as the Kittanning Bridge, which further enhanced the beauty of the bridges.
In the Historic Bridge Inventory, this bridge was listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, although the comments by the surveyors do not seem to confirm that listing. HistoricBridges.org strong disagrees with that assessment, especially in light of the widespread and unending demolition of all Allegheny River truss bridges found to be eligible for listing in the National Register. In addition, here in 2010, the time has come to evaluate riveted truss bridges as historic simply because truss bridges with riveted connections, and details like v-lacing and lattice, are no longer built on today's roadways.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1932, riveted, 4 span, 949'-long bridge is composed of 3 Parker thru truss main spans (1 @ 409', 2 @ 240') and one steel stringer approach span. Parker thru truss span with 400' lengths are not technologically challenging or significant. They are composed of larger dimensioned members. The substructure is concrete abutments and piers. It has no innovative or distinctive details. The bridge, the fourth at this location, was built to a State Highway Department standard design. The granite piers flanking the sidewalks at the portals are topped with Neo-Classical style luminaries.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 3 lane roadway and sidewalks over the Allegheny River just west of downtown Kittanning, which is characterized by undistinguished commercial buildings from the early 20th century and infill construction from the mid and late 20th century, and West Kittanning. The Kittanning central business district lacks the significance and cohesiveness of a potential historic district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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