When HistoricBridges.org first began to photo-document historic bridges in Pennsylvania in 2004, this 1949 deck truss did not stand out as either particularly old or beautiful when compared to the whole collection of historic bridges on the Allegheny River: what was then an incomparable collection of historic bridges offering an amazing variety of design, beauty, and heritage. Ten years later, thanks to what can only be described as a historic bridge massacre by PennDOT, this bridge now stands out as one of the few remaining bridges (outside of Pittsburgh) on the Allegheny River with any heritage and aesthetic qualities.
This bridge is a continuous deck truss that offers an attractive arch-like appearance. No field evidence of a cantilever function with suspended spans was visible; the bridge appears to function as a fully continuous truss. The one exception is an approach truss span at the northern end which is a simple truss span. Its lack of v-lacing and lattice, but with continued use of rivets and built-up beams is characteristic of mid-20th century bridge building. In 1986 the deck was substantially widened and members were added to cantilever the deck out beyond the original truss lines.
PennDOT considers this bridge to be limited to the truss spans alone. There is an interchange network of spans north of the simple truss span that are not included in what is measured and counted as the "Tarentum Bridge" proper. The given dimensions and span numbers for this bridge above reflect this fact.
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