This bridge is a large and uncommon example of a simple span deck truss. Dating to 1915 it is also an old surviving example. The Historic Bridge Inventory's finding that this bridge is not historic is outdated and fails to take into account the decreased metal truss bridge population in Pennsylvania.
The bridge is unusual because its elevation is lower at the center of the bridge than at the ends, giving it a sagging appearance. This design reflects the need to reduce the roadway grade caused by the river valley, but a lack of need for this significant height over the river itself. If the drainage system at the center of this bridge gets clogged, the deck can flood as a result of this design.
Some of the spans on this bridge have a rare variation of the Warren truss where the Warren pattern is broken in the center by an "X" pattern of diagonals. Another oddity of this bridge is that its longest span is neither in the center nor over the river; it is toward the western end of the bridge. This larger span is actually ten panels and does not have the unusual "X" diagonals in the center.
A project of the Harmony Street Car Line, this bridge was originally built by under the Ellwood and Koppel Bridge Company which operated the structure as a toll bridge. The bridge ceased to be a toll bridge on May 15, 1957 when the state purchased the bridge for $354,000. The toll at this time was ten cents.
Above: This photo shows the bridge in its early years. Note the original lattice railing. Also note that the old piers that stand abandoned today were abandoned back then as well, indicating those are very old piers.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 12-span, 1,206'-long viaduct built in 1915 is supported on concrete piers and abutments. The viaduct consists of five steel stringer spans and seven riveted Warren with verticals deck truss spans. Only the longer truss spans have verticals. All truss members are built up, and there are no innovative or distinctive details. In 1994 the deck was replaced and safety shape concrete parapets replaced the original steel railings. The bridge is a large but undistinguished example of what by 1910 was common technology in the state. Neither the bridge nor its setting are historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The viaduct carries a two-lane road and a sidewalk over three Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad tracks and two Conrail tracks on the east side of the river and the Beaver River, through a sparsely developed rural area in the northeast corner of the borough of Koppel, which is on the west side of the river. Industrial plants are beyond the west quadrants.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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