This bridge is nearby and of the same general design as the Ridge Avenue Bridge. Both are slated for demolition.
The Pennsylvania Historic Bridge Inventory listed the bridge as historic because it is part of a historic railroad line. However, the bridge should be considered individually significant because of its uncommon design, which features bulky girders supporting the sidewalk, and due to its wide, unusual three truss design, all of this is presented in a structure that retains good historic integrity and has remained wide enough for even modern traffic. The bridge is also unusual because the bottom chord is designed like a plate girder, which the trusses are built into. In other words, there is no distinction between a gusset plate for the riveted connections and the bottom chord... both are the same piece of steel. The bridge also features attractive pedestrian railings, and is an attractive addition to a bridge on a road that travels through a park setting.
This bridge was not maintained over the years and section loss was allowed to spread and deepen both on the sidewalk girders and at the base of the truss members near the deck. As of 2012, extensive areas of complete section loss were identified on the bridge in these areas. Section loss is a process where metal is completely removed from a metal bridge as the metal converts to rust. Eventually it leaves holes in the bridge. Section loss is a 100% preventable problem. A bridge could be 1000 years old and have zero section loss. How? Simply keep rust from forming by keeping the paint system on the bridge in good condition. A simple coat of paint is all it would have taken to keep this bridge from deteriorating. The owner of this bridge failed to do so and as a result, tax dollars will now be wasted in a costly demolition and replacement project that will destroy this historic bridge and damage the heritage of the park and historic railroad line.
The only good news left at this point is that the current proposal is to salvage two or three of the trusses and the ornate metal railings of this bridge and to restore and place them on the replacement Ohio Street Bridge as decorative elements. While this cannot be called historic bridge preservation, this proposed salvage and reuse of portions of the historic bridge would retain original bridge material and keep it from the scrap yard. The proposed placement of these salvaged bridge parts would help convey to visitors the former design of the historic bridge at this location. As such, it does represent a sound, good-faith mitigation for the adverse effect of demolishing the historic bridge. HistoricBridges.org supports this proposal as mitigation.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The single span, 69'-long, rivet connected Warren with verticals pony truss bridge built in 1903 has three truss lines with the middle one dividing the roadway. The lower chords are composed of built-up plates and angles resembling a girder, an unusual detail. The bridge is supported on ashlar abutments that are contiguous with the depressed section rail line's retaining walls. The sidewalks are supported outside the truss lines on built-up thru girders topped by decorative metal lattice railings with stone end posts. The bridge was designed by the Pennsylvania RR and fabricated by the Fort Pitt Bridge Works. The bridge is not individually significant, but it is historically significant in association with the PHMC-determined eligible PRR Fort Wayne Divison line. The bridge dates from the line's period of significance and was built during a period when the railroad was actively improving the line for higher speeds and capacity, which included quadruple tracking and grade crossing improvements.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane street and 2 sidewalks over 3 active Conrail tracks in Pittsburgh's North Side in Allegheny Commons Park. One block from the bridge is another similar bridge over the same rail line (BMS# 02730100003081). The rail line is the former PRR Fort Wayne Division line that has been determined eligible by PHMC (DOE 9/14/93). This section of the line was established in the 1850s, and it has historically provided a vital transportation link in the flow of east-west traffic on the PRR system. It was the main route westward from Pittsburgh to Chicago with branches to Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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