The Pennsylvania Historic Bridge Inventory discredited nearly all of Pennsylvania's beautiful 1930s metal truss bridges as "common technology." It is this website's view that this statement misses the point of historic bridges, and also ignores qualities of beauty in inherent in old bridges. While the Vandergrift Bridge might not be as rare as an 1885 pin-connected Baltimore truss, the technology in this bridge is anything but common and has not been in use for decades. The built-up beams, rivets, and even the use of the truss for spans of this length, have all become a thing of the past. It is imperative that examples of this period also be preserved. In addition, these bridges are both bold and beautiful, and their preservation should also be considered for this reason. In many ways, these bridges are easier to preserve because they are big and strong, and capable of handling modern traffic if maintained properly.
The current Vandergrift Bridge replaced a previous bridge, which had a shorter main span, with piers located further toward the center of the river.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The main span of the 3 span, 489' long bridge is a 310' long riveted Parker thru truss. The approach spans are built up stringer spans of 83' and 94' in length. The trusses are traditionally composed with all members being built up. The main span is long, but none of the details or its length itself are innovative or distinctive. The cantilevered sidewalks were finished with standard state highway department metal railings, but the originals are on the main span only. Those at the approaches are modern replacements. The Parker truss was developed about 1870, and it was a frequent bridge technology for long spans. Neither the 1933 bridge nor its setting is historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a river, one railroad track on the west side of the river and a local road on the east side of the river in an area of early and mid 20th century commercial and residential development on the county line. It connects East Vandergrift (Westmoreland Co.) and North Vandergrift (Armstrong Co.). Neither side has historic district potential because they are both dominated by a mix of altered houses and modern commercial development. The railroad crossed is a former Pennsylvania RR West Pennsylvania Division freight line line that is now owned by Conrail.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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