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Willimansett Bridge

   
                  


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Willimansett Bridge
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Bridge Documented: July 13, 2008
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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
Willimansett Bridge
Cabot Street (MA-116 and MA-141) Over Connecticut River and Railroad (Pioneer Valley Railroad) Holyoke and Chicopee: Hampden County, Massachusetts Metal 10 Panel Rivet-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed 1891 By Builder/Contractor: Richard F. Hawkins Ironworks of Springfield, Massachusetts and Engineer/Design: Edward S. Shaw of Boston, Massachusetts
Technical Facts
Main Span Length Structure Length Roadway Width Main Spans Approach Spans NBI Number
173 Feet (52.7 Meters) 798 Feet (243.2 Meters) 26.9 Feet (8.2 Meters) 4 2 C1301213RDOT634

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

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

View Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Inventory Forms For This Historic Bridge

This bridge does not look like a bridge that was built in 1891. With a 26 foot wide deck, massive members, and riveted connections, it has more of a 1920s appearance. The only thing that makes it look as though it might be an older bridge is that it does not appear to conform to a state standard truss bridge plan. HistoricBridges.org double-checked the 1891 construction date on the plaque with some documents on the Internet, and this does indeed appear to be the original 1891 bridge. Assuming this bridge truly was built with riveted connections and pinned connections were not somehow converted to riveted connections at a later date, this is an extremely unusual and rare bridge. Riveted connections did not become popular especially in highway bridges until the early years of the 20th Century. Field riveting was difficult in the late 19th Century, and worse, the exact calculations needed for building the rigid trusses of a riveted connection truss was difficult, especially with a larger bridge that would undoubtedly tend to need to move and flex more as well. With its large Pennsylvania truss bridge spans, 1891 construction date, and riveted connections, the Willimansett is a very rare and significant bridge.

The bridge is currently programmed for a rehabilitation project. This is excellent news given the aesthetic qualities and historic significance of the bridge. As of 2008, the bridge had a 3% sufficiency rating. HistoricBridges.org (and apparently Massachusetts) both agree that this 3% sufficiency rating does not mean that rehabilitation is not possible, unwise, or unfeasible. Massachusetts has realized how often a sufficiency rating can be misleading and does not mean replacement is required. In other states where there does not exist a commitment to preservation, how many historic bridges have been needlessly demolished even with a much higher sufficiency rating such as 40%? Far too many!

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Photos and Videos: Willimansett Bridge

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A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
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A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
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