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Valley Road Bridge

Photos 

Unusual lifted "hangers" make you wonder ...

Photo taken by Andrew Pearce in August 2012

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BH Photo #238388

Map 

Description 

A quaint old bridge that has been modernized and raised, and widened to 2 lanes without load restriction. Quite probably the truss is just for show at this point, but the county is keeping the bridge in beautiful rust free and freshly painted condition.

As of 2002, but not completely true anymore: "The bridge carries one lane of a quiet country road over the Musconetcong River, the boundary between Hunterdon and Warren counties. It is located in a rural setting, adjacent to a well-maintained 19th century farm with fields and outbuildings" "The 2-span pin-connected Pratt half hip with counters pony truss bridge is supported on stone abutments. The concrete pier was placed in 1988. Each of the trusses is 5 panels long and has round-headed eye bars for the lower chords. Floor beams are hung from the lower panel points by a pair of U bolts. The most unusual detail is design of the built-up verticals composed of back-to-back angles with a flared web plate. The flared shape adds lateral stability. Repairs are minimal. Plate has been welded to the inclined end posts at the bearings. One line of the original pipe railing survives, but the other, at the lower level, has been replaced with modern beam guide rail."

a bit surreal but charming 

Written by Andrew Pearce

This late model truss is perhaps 3/4 mile downstream from the 1868 Cowin/Winthrop cast iron antiquity on Shoddy Mill Rd, yet this "old" bridge seems somehow nearly brand new. It's been widened and had a full load stringer and slab system tucked in under it, the original floor beams replaced with units so much larger that they had to "hang" from pedestals ... though in reality I think the pedestal brackets are holding up the truss. Even though this one has riveted top chords of significant size with nice original lacing underneath, along with large diameter diagonals and beefy eyebar lower chords, even though the tapered verticals have been de-laced and solid plates welded in (aka "flared web plate" says the county, but please; that's the only welding on the bridge; it couldn't be original), which is very rare and quite impressive to see ... this truss is probably 85% just for show at this point.

And the really funny part? Shoddy Mill Rd probably sees at least half as much traffic as Valley Rd., though the official numbers say it's only 1/3 as much. Both are rural routes to lesser traveled areas; neither one is even close to being on a main thoroughfare. The only real difference is that the sharp corner in the road at one end of Shoddy Mill's one lane crossing, and the dip in the road at the other end make people cross the bridge at 5mph, whereas they cross Valley Road at 65 (in a 45, but this is NJ after all).

Facts 

Overview
Pony truss bridge over Musconetcong River on Valley Road
Location
Bethlehem Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey
Status
Open to traffic
History
Built 1900; rehabilitated 1926, modernized and widened to two lanes 2010
Builder
- Dover Boiler Works
Design
Half-hip Pratt pony truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 48.9 ft.
Total length: 104.0 ft.
Deck width: 25.0 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Shurts Road Bridge
CR 630 over Musconetcong River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.70417, -74.98722   (decimal degrees)
40°42'15" N, 74°59'14" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/501079/4505917 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
High Bridge
Average daily traffic (as of 2015)
770
Inventory numbers
NJ 10XXB26 (New Jersey bridge number)
BH 25331 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of July 2015)
Overall condition: Good
Superstructure condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 87.6 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • August 5, 2014: Photo imported by Dave King
  • August 29, 2012: Essay added by Andrew Pearce

Sources