|Bridge Name||Facility Carried / Feature Intersected||Location||Structure Type||Construction Date and Builder/Engineer|
Smith Road Bridge
||Smith Road (TR-406) Over Conneaut Creek Tributary||Rural: Crawford County, Pennsylvania||Metal 3 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Half-Hip Pony Truss, Fixed||1888 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio|
|Rehabilitation Date||Main Span Length||Structure Length||Roadway Width||Main Spans||NBI Number|
|1996||46 Feet (14 Meters)||46 Feet (14 Meters)||14.8 Feet (4.5 Meters)||1||207225040630320|
This bridge featured a rare design in that the diagonals and the bottom chord extend through the end post and end with a threaded rod and nut connection. This is an unusual and distinctive detail of many pony trusses that were built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company. Other examples of this unusual design can be found in the state of Ohio, although they are rare there as well. In Pennsylvania they are even more rare, no thanks to the demolition of this historic bridge. Beyond the unusual connection design, the bridge was an otherwise traditionally composed, small half-hip Pratt pony truss bridge, composed of three panels. The bridge had a wooden deck, and it retained lattice railings. Its historic integrity was good.
The demolition of this bridge is a perfect example of what is wrong with the way Pennsylvania treats our nation's transportation heritage. Section 106 mitigation for the demolition of this bridge was to create a "state level recordation" which is usually little more than a "book report" about the bridge with a few photos. The report and photos are given to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) never to be seen again. These documents are not made available online to the public, despite past requests by HistoricBridges.org. As such, the recordations are a waste of money. Also, a few parts of the bridge were to be donated to the historical society. What should have been done with this bridge? At the very least, as mitigation, the bridge was so small it would have been extremely easy (and inexpensive) to lift it off its abutments and either put it on display in a park setting (or at the historical society's property), or even put it in storage and make it available for reuse. Indiana does the latter when it cannot find a new home for a bridge prior to replacement. Indiana will often store the bridge for up to 10 years, keeping it available for reuse. It is easier for a third party to acquire the bridge at this time because the bridge is instantly available, and the new owner does not have to coordinate with the bridge replacement schedule. Pennsylvania however only offers the bridge for reuse prior to the replacement. Once the replacement project takes place, the bridge is reduced to scrap metal. It is not right that Indiana can make a serious effort to find new homes for its historic bridges (which it is often successful in doing) while Pennsylvania is allowed to continue this pattern of demolition. Unlike Indiana, Pennsylvania does not have success finding new homes for bridges, likely due to the aforementioned issues.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The ca. 1888, pin connected, single span, 46'-long, Pratt pony truss bridge is attributed to the Wrought Iron Bridge Company because it has the distinctive upper and lower chord cast iron connections found on documented bridges by the prominent Ohio bridge designer and fabricator. The bridge appears to be complete, and it stands out in the county as one of the important metal truss bridges that chronicle the evolution of the development and eventual standardization of the technology. The bridge is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2 lane, unimproved township road over a stream in a rural area with scattered, undistinguished late 20th century residences. The area does not have historic district potential.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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