"The main span of this 20-span, 640-foot-long bridge is a swing-span, riveted Warren through truss. This span utilizes the most common design for swing-span structures. It is center-bearing with a pivot set on a pier in the river channel. The center-bearing design was lighter and more easily operated and maintained than the alternative rim-bearing design. The swing span retains its original built-up sections of channels, angles, and plates. According to plans, an operator's house originally sat atop the center of the truss. That house was removed and replaced by a flat-roofed operator's house at the southeast corner about 1965. (The state made a similar alteration to Pender County Bridge 19). The portal bracing has also been altered to increase vertical clearance. These changes, however, did not alter the bridge's basic operation. It is still engaged by an electric motor and direct-drive, rack-and-pinion system set atop a concrete pivot pier protected by timber pile fenders.
The single swing span is joined by 19 tee beam approach spans that carry state-standard concrete decks and balustrades. They are built on a skew to accommodate an S-shaped curve in the roadway required by the surrounding watery terrain. The bridge is therefore not only known as the Hertford Bridge (the name on its plaque) but, at least locally, as the "S-Shaped Bridge." In addition to being a local landmark and a contributing part of the Hertford Historic District, the bridge is significant in its own right as a rare, early, intact swing-span structure in North Carolina.
The site of the bridge has a history probably not matched by any other in the state. Its original predecessor, on the same location, was a float bridge erected in 1798 for the then-substantial sum of 1,200 pounds. A report dating from May of that year proudly stated that the: "Bridge hath been lately compleated in a very Strong & workmanlike manner, with a toll Gate thereon fitten for the easy & comfortable conveyance of travellers & passengers equal if not superior to any thing of the kind on the Continent-..." It described the structure as "about 20 feet wide all railed in with a tear of Pine-heart Logs, nearly edge & edge apart covered with 3 inch pine plank strongly...framed & put together-..." The float bridge stood until 1863, when Union forces destroyed it to hinder Confederate troop movements. A ferry then served the crossing until the construction of a new float bridge in 1868. This bridge was swept away by a storm in 1897 and replaced by "a good Strong & efficient Steel and wood Bridge..." That bridge was in turn replaced, on the same location, by the current steel and concrete structure,"-NCDOT