This bridge is an uncommon surviving example of a state standard through truss bridge that has more than two spans. Most bridges of this size have been demolished by PennDOT in recent years. The nearby Susquehanna has been hit particularly hard by demolition. The Newport Bridge should thus be considered significant as a long, multi-span representative example of state standard through truss bridge technology.
The historic bridge inventory found this bridge not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This outdated finding does not reflect the staggering drop in surviving state standard through truss bridges in excess of two spans due to demolition by PennDOT. The historic bridge inventory further claims that "the earliest examples of the standard design that best represent the bridge type's contribution" however HistoricBridges.org is not aware that any of the state's earlier standard truss bridges were found eligible either. All state standard truss bridges, including even the earliest surviving examples, were described by the inventory as "undistinguished example of a common technology" with "no innovative or distinctive details." The lack of eligible findings for any state standard plan truss bridges along with these statements fail to acknowledge not only early examples of state standard plans, but also fail to acknowledge that good representative examples of a period in history can also be eligible.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 4-span, 691'-long thru truss bridge built in 1934 to a standard state highway department design has typical mid-20th-century details such as built-up upper and lower chords, rolled steel beam verticals and diagonals, and riveted connections. It is supported on concrete abutments and piers. The cantilevered sidewalk has standard metal railings. In 1966 the original concrete deck was replaced by an open steel grid deck. The rivet-connected Parker truss bridge was adopted by the state highway department as a standard in the 1920s. The department turned to the well-established technology of riveted steel truss bridges, which had been in use since the 1890s, because truss bridges offered an economic alternative to other long-span bridge types. It is the earliest examples of the standard design that best represent the bridge type's contribution to the development of the state's roads and bridges. More than 75 examples of standard riveted Parker truss bridges from the 1920s and 1930s have been identified. This example is not early, nor are the individual spans of approximately 170' each exceptionally long. The bridge is not historically distinguished by its setting or context.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane highway and a sidewalk over the Juniata River. At the east end of the bridge is a convenience store and gas station. At the west end of the bridge, the Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line on a high fill crosses over SR 34 on a steel deck girder overpass. Beyond the railroad to the west is the commercial center of Newport Borough with a concentration of late-19th and early 20th century buildings. Newport has been identified as a potential historic district by PHMC and a draft nomination has been submitted (5/12/98). The west side of the railroad is the potential district boundary, thus the SR 34 bridge is entirely outside of and approximately 100' east of the potential district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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