; Historic Bridges
; 3D Satellite
The main tied-arch span is 620'. You can barely see part of the J&L Hot Metal Bridge
under the center of the deck.
3. Charles W. Shane, Photographer, April 1970. VIEW LOOKING FROM THE SOUTHWEST. - Brady Street Bridge, Spanning Monongahela River at South Twenty-second Street, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA
The total length of the bridge is quite long because it goes bluff-to-bluff over highways and railroads. Because of those bluffs, Pittsburgh can avoid building movable bridges.
As we have come to expect, it used to go over more railroads than it does now.
|1969 Pittsburgh East Quad @ 1:24,000|
I first noticed the tied-arch bridge in this image.
Scanning those J&L notes, I found an overview of the 1896 bridge.
The description in BridgeHunter is a quote of the significance in the HAER: "The Brady Street Bridge, contracted by the Schultz Bridge & Iron Co. of Pittsburgh, was a steel-riveted, through-highway bridge. The structure consisted of a tied arch for the central span with a suspended deck, and two through-trusses for the side spans. The bridge was the second to be owned by the city and the first free bridge in Pittsburgh." [HAER-data
, p2] I'm surprised there are no comments on BridgeHunter correcting this description. The new bridge is a tied-arch bridge. The bridge built by Schultz Bridge was "a continuous truss and thus unusual in its day." [HAER-data
, p24. Footnote 77 is referenced, which is: "On authority of George S. Richardson, the Pittsburgh bridge engineer."] Other sources have called the bridge a 3-hinged arch and a cantilever. But "the engineer, Marcel Fertig, examined the bridge for the State in the 1960's and found that the channel span was a continuous truss." [HAER-data
I emphasized that it was a continuous truss because both Bridge Hunter and the Significance description in the HAER have it wrong. But I also emphasized it because I recognized that it looked continuous even though it was obviously built a long time ago. I wonder if this is the oldest continuous truss bridge that I've seen. They were quite rare before computers were developed because the stress computations for the truss members is much more difficult than for multiple simple truss spans.
This bridge was built using what is now called Accelerated Bridge Construction. ("The main span was constructed on floats moored on the river bank and the superstructure was swung into position on 24 November." [HAER-data
, p27]) I wonder if this is the first example of using that technique with such a large span.
The new bridge was built just downstream from the old bridge.
Note the piers for the new bridge in the above photo with no visible construction activity. That is because construction was halted for over a year because Pittsburgh did not want to pay its share for the large interchange in Soho. [HAER-data
, p28] That interchange was probably a surprise expense because the 6-lane bridge was originally (1963
) planned to be part of a new expressway that went between the north side of the Allegheny River and the south side of the Monongahela River. See PGHbridges
for more information on the need for a convoluted interchange on the north side of this bridge. The change in plans from a crosstown beltway to a local bridge also explains why a 6-lane bridge ends at a stoplight interchange on the south side
. I noticed that "bridge to nowhere" dynamic when I first looked at a satellite image.
B&E captured the northern interchange as well as the bridge itself.
|1 of 4 photos posted by Bridges & Tunnels|
The seemingly complicated northern terminus of the Birmingham Bridge only has connections to Fifth and Forbes Avenues, skipping any connection to Parkway East or to the Boulevard of the Allies.
The Birmingham Bridge has a complicated history in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Until 1896, the South Side of Pittsburgh had one fixed crossing to the central part of the city, a tolled covered bridge, which led to the opening of the Brady Street Bridge in 1896. It was notable for being the second river crossing owned by the city as well as the first toll-free river crossing in the area.
Because of heavy usage from trucks and trolleys, the Brady Street Bridge was showing its age by the 1960s. The crossing was closed to all traffic because of structural deficiencies in September 1968 and reopened after significant repairs in October 1969. It closed permanently on May 1, 1976, and was detonated into the Monongahela River at 8:42 PM on May 29, 1978.
Planning for a replacement for the deteriorating Brady Street Bridge began in the early 1960s Highway plans at that time showed a variety of proposed expressways and freeways crisscrossing the region, including the Oakland Expressway that would have connected PA Route 28 north of Herrs Island along the Allegheny River to new suburban routes along the Monongahela River further south.
Construction of the new bridge was set to begin in 1969 but the city's inaction on deciding on how to interchange the new crossing with local streets caused the project to be delayed by a decade. Just the new bridge's piers stood alongside the circa 1896 structure for years, a reminder that Pittsburgh had yet another "bridge to nowhere." Construction finally resumed in 1974 but work was delayed because of defective electro-slag welds that needed to be shored up with heavy steel plates.
Finally, the new Birmingham Bridge, named after Birmingham, England, opened in December 1977.
➤ Check out many more photos and a history of the Birmingham Bridge at http://bridgestunnels.com/location/birmingham-bridge/
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