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Back Brook Bridge

Photos 

Almost Twins

The Manners Rd over the Back Brook bridge is nearly identical to the Manners Rd over the Neshanic River bridge just up the road, just 2 sections shorter.

Photo taken by Andrew Pearce in September 2012

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BH Photo #238617

Map 

Description 

from the 2002 county survey: "The [one lane, 15.4' wide] 4-panel Warren with verticals pony truss of riveted construction bears on concrete abutments with stone wingwalls. The use of heavy box sections in the design is an example of a secondary stress design. Floorbeams are riveted to angles which are riveted to the gusset plates at the lower panel points. The pipe railings are original. There are some welded repairs. The bridge is a noteworthy example of the work of local fabricator The Dover Boiler Works that was active until at least 1919."

As of 2012: the truss is now just an ornament, repainted and resting on a concrete stringer bridge. The road was widened in 2002.

Roadside Museums: it's cheaper this way. 

Written by Andrew Pearce

Hunterdon County NJ has truss bridges everywhere. Dozens of them, maybe as many as 100. Through trusses and ponies, we've got iron and steel bridges that were built just this year, and a wide selection dating all the way back to 1868, and a wooden covered bridge even older than that.

Once upon a time, back when New Jersey really was the "Garden State" and this was a sleepy rural county, all of our single lane bridges could do the job, many of them still spanning creeks and rivers on unpaved roads. But when the big highway went through in the 60s, and the county opened up to suburban and exurban development, these bridges soon became inadequate. And quite a few had to be replaced. Not to mention that, with all our streams, creeks, and rivers, we've got a lot of seasonal flooding going on, and many of the old bridges get swept away.

So the county set out to do bridge upgrading and replacement. And found that in order to get federal dollars to help, they had to meet federal width and strength specifications. And money is always tight anyway. So when these old truss bridges got widened, out came the trusses and in went the concrete.

And then the trusses went back on. Huh? Why? Sure, I'd like to say "Oh we have this great sense of history here, and are all proud of our past, and willing to spend whatever it takes to keep that old time rural feel alive", but that's probably nonsense. The truth is, it's probably much cheaper for the county to just give the old trusses a coat of paint and then screw them to the top of the concrete spans than it is for them to bring in a guy with a torch and cut them up for scrap and haul them away. And they DO make outstanding secondary crash barriers.

At some point in the 21st century the county-wide decision was made to make some extra effort to at least make these old bridges semi-functional if possible, but for a decade or so the approach was to just bolt them back on and walk away. This bridge is one of those now, but at least the truss is still around. It's just another single exhibit roadside museum, and the only folks who will notice that are those reading this web site.

Facts 

Overview
"Lost" pony truss bridge over Back Brook on CR 609 (Manners Road)
Location
Ringoes, Hunterdon County, New Jersey
Status
Exists but no longer functional
History
Built 1914; rehabilitated 1970; replaced 2002
Builder
- Dover Boiler Works
Design
Warren pony truss with alternating verticals
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 62.0 ft.
Total length: 65.0 ft.
Deck width: 30.0 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Manners Road over the Back Brook Bridge
CR 609 over the Back Brook Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.45924, -74.80628   (decimal degrees)
40°27'33" N, 74°48'23" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/516424/4478748 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Hopewell
Inventory numbers
100E239
BH 25244 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 04/2015)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 94.8 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2015)
1,860

Update Log 

  • September 4, 2012: Essay added by Andrew Pearce

Sources