This bridge is a rare example of an early Penn Bridge Company truss bridge that contains the distinctive and unusual details of its builder. In particular, the essential detail of having two pins at the ends of the top chord is present on this bridge. One pin is for the diagonal member, the other is for the hip vertical. This odd connection style drives many modern engineers crazy because in their eyes this detail does not make sense. Regardless, these bridges have stood the test of time. The other distinctive detail is the unusual "adjustable eye bolt" that can be found at the base of the hip verticals.
This county-owned bridge had deteriorated and was closed to traffic following an inspection. The county weighed the value of replacing the bridge versus making some in-house repairs to the deck which would correct the bridge-closing deficiencies, and found that the repairs could be made for a mere fraction the cost of replacement. In other others, this bridge could be preserved, saving a valuable piece of history, while also saving tax dollars. Located on a quiet rural road, the one-lane bridge is enough to serve the functional needs of the road. Therefore, the county went ahead with a repair project in 2010. The cost was around $35,000, with $30,000 for bidded materials, and another $5,000 spent on additional materials by the county. The estimated cost of demolishing and replacing this bridge would have cost a staggering $1,500,000! The preservation of this bridge was a win-win scenario. All work was done in-house by the county, which helps reduce cost as well as a lot of the red tape and bureaucratic chaos that would have been associated with a replacement project.
This exemplary preservation project demonstrates how counties and other local agencies can take the initiative and preserve their historic bridges, even without pressure or even funding from the state or federal level.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The single span, 63'-long, pin connected, wrought iron, Pratt pony truss bridge is supported on stone abutments. The bridge is composed of built-up sections for the compression members, and eye bars and rods for the tension members. It has an uncommon double pin connection at the end post-upper chord connections, and an unusual adjustable eye bolt detail at the hip vertical-lower chord connection. Both details are associated with the Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, one of the earliest and most prolific metal truss bridge fabricators in Pennsylvania. The bridge is an early example of its type/design with proprietary details by an important in-state fabricator. It has minor alterations, such as strengthening of one of the end posts with a welded box section sleeve, but these have not had a significant impact on the over all integrity of original design. The bridge is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural setting with scattered 19th to late 20th century residences. At the north end is a late 19th century grist mill that has been converted to apartments. At the southwest quadrant is an altered late 19th century vernacular frame residence. The other quadrants are wooded. The setting does not have the cohesiveness or integrity of a historic district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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