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Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 20, 2017 and 2021

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Waterloo Road (VA-613) Over Rappahannock River
Location
Rural: Culpeper County, Virginia and Fauquier County, Virginia: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1879 By Builder/Contractor: Pittsburgh Bridge Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2020
Main Span Length
100 Feet (30.5 Meters)
Structure Length
366 Feet (111.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
11.2 Feet (3.41 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 15 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
5622

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

This bridge has long suffered from a poorly documented history, something that even extended into Historic American Engineering Record documents for the bridge. The information presented on HistoricBridges.org represents the latest findings of research conducted by members of the community in which the bridge is located. Specifically, the following confirms the date and builder of the bridge:

The Fauquier County Court Minute Book 1876-1880 stated the following about the bridge on Page 243: July 25, 1878 - "This day the Fauquier Comms. filed the report accepting the Bridge over the Rappk. River at Waterloo, erected by the Pittsburg Bridge Company, & s[ ] is confirmed. And the Court doth order the County Treasurer of Fauquier County to pay to T.N. Fletcher one of the Comms. on the part of Fauquier County the sum of $620.00 the balance due said Pittsburg Bridge Company in full of said Bridge..."

The bridge was configured in 1919 by the replacement of the superstructures of the approach spans and installation of pipe railing on the whole bridge. This work was completed by the by Virginia Bridge and Iron Company of Roanoke, Virginia.

This bridge is largely unaltered beyond the 1919 changes making it both an outstanding example of an early Pittsburgh Bridge Company bridge as well as an early example of a traditional pin-connected Pratt truss. Its vertical members are composed of angles rather than channel making it look lighter weight than most bridges of this type.

The future of this bridge has been uncertain for many years, but the bridge enjoys strong community support. Support from Virginia Department of Transportation in contrast was less consistent. As of 2018 after a long fight, a decision was made to rehabilitate the bridge for vehicular traffic. This represents a victory overall as previous proposals were for the bridge to be demolished or to try to find some third party to preserve the bridge. However the project did replace a large amount of original bridge material. The need for this replacement does not make sense in light of the bridge's good overall condition due to the rust resistant properties of the wrought iron from which it is built, as well as when comparing rehabilitations of similar bridges in other states where more original material was retained. However, Virginia has one of the most conservative engineering stances in the country (for unknown reasons) with one VDOT engineer going so far as to condemn literally hundreds if not thousands of projects across the country to rehabilitate bridges composed of paired eyebars (which includes most pin-connected highway truss bridges) as (and this is a quote) "Russian Roulette." Such a statement is unsubstantiated given the countless engineers who have placed their stamps (and thus their professional livelihood) on these rehabilitation projects, as well as the fact that truss bridge failures are almost always the result of design errors that existed from Day 1 and are unique to specific bridges, or are the result of accidents or user stupidity, such as a large 40 ton 14 foot tall truck trying to cross a bridge with an 11 foot overhead clearance and a 3 ton weight limit.

Given this somewhat inhospitable environment for bridge preservation in Virginia, the rehabilitation of the Waterloo Bridge represents a huge success story, even given the replacement of original material on the bridge. View YouTube video showing the truss being picked for rehabilitation.

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

Above: Bridge after rehabilitation. Photo Credit: Hugh Kenny, Piedmont Environmental Council


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Unorganized Photos

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Waterloo Bridge

 
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Post-Rehab Additional Unorganized Photos
Original / Full Size Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Post-Rehab Additional Unorganized Photos
Mobile Optimized Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Waterloo Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

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