Howard Street crosses the Spokane River in an area where the river has been divided into three channels. Two of the three Howard Street Bridges are historically significant, this span and the north channel span, which is a concrete arch bridge and presents a nice contrast and comparison to this bridge. The south channel span is also old, but a more mundane concrete slab or t-beam style structure.
As originally built, the three Howard Street Bridges had to carry pedestrians, vehicular traffic, and two sets of railway tracks in the middle that appear to have been for street cars. The railway portion did not last forever however, and eventually the entire center of the roadway was converted for vehicular traffic. In 1974, the bridges were closed to vehicular traffic for the Expo '74 Worlds Fair which was held near the bridges. The bridges never reopened for vehicular traffic afterward, and have continued to be used for non-motorized traffic only through to the present day.
This truss bridge is rare in the context of Spokane. Spokane has an impressive collection of historic concrete bridges, but only a couple metal truss bridges, and this is the only pin-connected truss. Also, the Baltimore truss configuration is uncommon even on a statewide level. The bridge appears to retain good historic integrity with no major alterations to the trusses. Morton McCartney was the engineer for the bridge, which adds to the bridge's significant because Morton McCartney was involved with the design of some of Spokane's largest bridges.
The sidewalks of the truss bridge have been fenced off and closed to the public. A bridge inspection report stated the following about the sidewalks:
"The girders supporting the sidewalks are breaking away at the ends, losing substantial portions of their bearing areas. For this reason, the sidewalks have been closed to the public."
It is unclear why the city chose to spend money simply fencing the sidewalks off rather than repairing the problem. The only good news is the added fencing is a cable style that does not look visually offensive, and does not significantly block the view of the historic riveted lattice sidewalk railing.
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