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South Washington Street Parabolic Bridge

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Photo taken by Doug Kerr

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Description 

The South Washington Street Bridge in Binghamton, NY is a rare lenticular truss bridge of three spans. Built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in 1886 It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been restored and in now used only as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge linking downtown Binghamton over the Susquehanna River with the South Side of Binghamton. Addendum-Berlin Bridge Co. gives the build date as 1887 and the dimensions as 3 spans at 165' 24'roadway and two 6' sidewalks.

History and Significance of the South Washington Street Bridge 

Written by Michael Quiet

It seems fitting that Binghamton NY would host one of the finest examples of the lenticular through truss ever built, as this was also the hometown of the man who held the patent on the design, William Douglas. And a gracious host it has been over the years, as the bridge has been restored for pedestrian use since its discontinuation of vehicular traffic in 1969, and continues to be given regular maintenance, showing that the city and its population put value on this historic truss bridge. This bridge stands as an excellent example of how a historic span can continue to play an important role in a city even after retirement from vehicular traffic, and should serve as an example to others.

Fabricated in 1886, this bridge is (and was at the time) the longest lenticular bridge constructed in NY, and is the second longest remaining example of its type after the 5 span Aiken Street Bridge in Lowell MA. Like the other remaining examples this bridge employs pinned connections on its members and is fabricated from wrought iron. The abutments and piers are expertly crafted ashlar, which are still original and haven't been replaced/covered with concrete, further bolstering the historic appeal of this structure.

The bridge has all of the standard features for the Berlin Iron Bridge Co. including a decorative railing with iron rosettes, builders plaque, and although long gone now, portal cresting and cast iron finales. Also being built for city usage, the bridge features two 6ft pedestrian walkways on the outside of the trusses. Notable features include the 1885 patent strut braces in the first panels, the early use of the stylized portal bracing, and doubled-up eyebars on the lower chord.

On the last point, it should also be discussed that the bridge was built not only for heavy city traffic, but also supported Binghamton's electric trolley line. To accommodate this the bridge has been built up more then typical examples, including the aforementioned double pair of eyebars for the lower chord, built up box members for the vertical compression members, and relatively thick tension members.

As stated earlier the bridge was retired from vehicular traffic in 1969, and became a pedestrian crossing. Since then the bridge has received a major rehabilitation in 1997 which replaced the floor-beams (which replicated the shape of the original but are lacking the riveting work of the original), and a more minor rehabilitation in 2015 which included repairing railings, repainting, and re-decking the pedestrian walkways, demonstrating the care that the city extends this historic bridge.

Facts 

Overview
Pin connected Lenticular through truss bridge over Susquehanna River on South Washington Street
Location
Binghamton, Broome County, New York
Status
Open to pedestrians
History
Built 1886 by Berlin Iron Bridge Co.; Closed to vehicles 1969; Rehabilitated 1997 & 2015
Builder
- Berlin Iron Bridge Co. of East Berlin, Connecticut
Design
3 span wrought iron pin connected lenticular trough truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 165.0 ft.
Total length: 495.0 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 9.6 ft.
Also called
South Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.09232, -75.91467   (decimal degrees)
42°05'32" N, 75°54'53" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/424358/4660431 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Binghamton West
Inventory number
BH 46245 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • June 23, 2017: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • April 14, 2017: New photos from Sherman Cahal
  • November 23, 2016: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • November 17, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Wrought Iron"
  • May 19, 2016: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • April 20, 2016: Essay added by Michael Quiet
  • April 15, 2016: New photos from Michael Quiet
  • March 28, 2016: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • September 27, 2014: Updated by Royce and Bobette Haley: Conflicting build date-measurements in discription
  • August 15, 2014: Updated by Chester Gehman: Added Builder: BIBCo
  • February 20, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • September 16, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Updated design as referred to in a 1974 David Plowden book
  • September 19, 2010: Added by Doug Kerr

Sources 

Comments 

South Washington Street Parabolic Bridge
Posted March 11, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Sounds like the bridge will be getting some TLC:

http://www.wbng.com/news/video/Improvements-underway-for-his...