York Town Square

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PennDOT not selling the Brooklyn Bridge but lesser structures on market

The Kralltown Road bridge, seen here in 2006, is of the truss construction typical of those PennDOT is systematically replacing. In fact, PennDOT is placing some of them up for sale. Background posts: When the bridge over the Codorus moved,
Charles Dickens on his Susquehanna River crossing: ‘I was in a painful dream’, and A 7th bridge? Pedestrian walkway may span Susquehanna River some day.

I recently turned onto the one-lane Bowers Bridge crossing the Conewago Creek near Manchester and wondered how the rickety but beautiful structure had escaped the wreckers ball. After all, a trolley bridge downstream was no more. And a highway bridge even further down the Conewago was there but no longer used.
As it turns out, PennDOT has caught up with the Bowers Bridge… .

The structure is one of four old truss-style bridges in York and Adams counties on the market.
People actually can buy the old bridges for a song. Dismantling them and reconstructing them elsewhere might cost a symphony though.
According to one count, 11 such bridges remain in York County.
Some day, these pieces of Americana, with their striking overhead beams, will be as rare as covered bridges.
Here is a York Daily Records/Sunday News story (8/11/08) on their sale:

Historic one-lane bridges built in the 1800s still carry cars over creeks in the York County countryside.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been replacing these old structures with modern concrete bridges that can handle today’s heavy traffic.
And as it does, PennDOT has put those bridges up for sale, hoping that another party will find a new use for them, such as a pedestrian bridge on a college campus or in a park.
Four bridges in York and Adams counties are up for sale on PennDOT’s Web site. One is the Bowers Bridge Road bridge, which spans Little Conewago Creek between Conewago and East Manchester townships.
The one-lane bridge, which is 88 feet long and 16 feet wide, was built in 1889 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio.
It serves as an example of a pin-connected Pratt through-truss, a type of bridge that was popular for its ease of construction in the field and weight-bearing capabilities, according to a description on the Web site.
It’s difficult to market the bridges, which are eligible for or are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Kara Russell, cultural resource specialist for PennDOT.
While a buyer can get the bridge for a low bid, he or she also has to foot the bill for dismantling, rehabilitating and reconstructing it. That can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the bridge, she said.
Then there are the complexities of finding a bridge that meets the needs of an interested party within its time-frame, Russell said.
The hope, though, is to save them.
“It’s a part of our industrial heritage that I think is worth preserving when we can,” she said.
Interest in the historic structures is increasing as the cost of bridges has gone up, said Scott Christie, district executive for PennDOT District 8. The price of steel, for example, has jumped 50 percent in the first quarter of this year.
The department has been receiving more inquiries than it normally gets, he said.
Several years ago Central Pennsylvania College in Summerdale bought Henszey’s Bridge, an 1869 wrought-iron bowstring truss, which last spanned Ontelaunee Creek near Wanamaker, Lehigh County. The college paid $22 for it.
It links the college’s north and south campuses.
“We’re putting it to use, and we’re also showing what it was and how it worked,” said Harold Stahle Jr., an alumnus of the college who helped to save the bridge.
If the bridges can’t be saved, the contractor that is replacing the bridge tears it down for scrap, Russell said.
Four bridges in York and Adams counties are up for sale on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Web site. Here is some information about them:
Bridge 193: The single-lane bridge carries Bowers Bridge Road over Little Conewago Creek between Conewago and East Manchester townships. It is 88 feet long and 16 feet wide. The pin-connected Pratt through-truss was constructed in 1889 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in Canton, Ohio.
Bridge 64: The single-lane bridge carries Bairs Mill Road over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township. It is 87 feet long and 12½ feet wide. The pin-connected Pratt through-truss bridge was constructed in 1893 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio.
Gilbert Road/Hall Estates Bridge: The single-span Pratt Truss bridge crosses Yellow Breeches Creek between Upper Allen and Monaghan townships in Cumberland and York counties. It is 18 feet wide and 104 feet long. It was built in 1900 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio.
Wiermans Mill Road Bridge: The single-lane bridge carries Wiermans Mill Road over the Bermudian Creek near York Springs in Huntington Township, Adams County. It is 93 feet long and 13.7 feet wide. The steel Pratt through-truss was designed and fabricated by the Pittsburgh Bridge Company and constructed on site by Nelson and Buchanan of Chambersburg.
– Source: PennDOT’s Web site.