In 1874, the wooden bridge was replaced by an ’Iron Swing Bridge’ as part of a streets and avenues improvement program.
By the late 1890s, the Department of Bridges had been formed and recommended in 1902 the need for a new bridge, due to higher traffic volumes, which the Department of War approved. During the first half of the 20th century, the department’s responsibility was to oversee the construction of public works over rivers and harbors.
The Iron-Swing Bridge was removed in 1906 and construction began shortly on a new retractile bridge, a bridge with a superstructure designed to move horizontally either longitudinally or diagonally from “closed” to “open” position, the portion acting in cantilever being counterweighted by that supported on rollers. This new bridge opened on March 25th, 1908 at a cost of $157,606. The deck’s original design consisted of creosote-treated wood blocks, with two trolley tracks in the roadway.
The movable bridge opens and closes through horizontal translation of the entire superstructure. Its trapezoidal shaped frame is mounted on nine wheeled trucks which roll on four pairs of crane rails.
Operation of the Borden Avenue Bridge is performed through the Control House. The Control House is a three-story cast-in-place concrete structure originally designed and built along with the bridge.
In closing, the bridge’s general appearance for the most part resembles its 1908 appearance and is only one of four retractile type bridges in the United States, including one of two in New York City.
In 2008 the bridge stopped closing properly because the west abutment and southwest wing wall were rotating, causing a crack in the southwest wing wall that quickly increased in size. By January 2009 the movement of the walls had accelerated so much, the bridge was closed to traffic for safety reasons. A fast-track, emergency reconstruction of the west abutment and wing walls of the bridge was undertaken by STV Inc., that included complete reconstruction of the west approach roadway and sidewalks, as well as deck replacement and repairs to steel members of the movable span. The bridge re-opened to traffic on December 24, 2010.