3 votes

Shenango River Bridge (Canal Rd.)


Photo taken by Brian McKee in May 2010


BH Photo #165704


Street View 


Through truss bridge over Shenango River on Canal Road in Sharpsville
Mercer County, Pennsylvania
Intact but closed to all traffic
Built 1897 by Penn Bridge Co.
- Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
Pin-connected, 11-panel Camelback through truss
Total length: 187.0 ft.
Deck width: 19.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.26761, -80.47017   (decimal degrees)
41°16'03" N, 80°28'13" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/544378/4568600 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2005)
Inventory numbers
PA 43 7303 0388 2304 (Pennsylvania Bridge Management System number)
PANBI 26326 (Pennsylvania BRKEY bridge number on the 2011 NBI)
BH 31294 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of October 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Critical (2 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 45 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • March 23, 2019: New photos from Brian Manville
  • October 4, 2017: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • July 23, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: This bridge is now doomed.
  • May 17, 2010: New photos from Brian McKee



Canal Rd./Shenango River Bridge
Posted October 11, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I've been fighting that 40 ton fight for many years... supposedly the new bridge management plan being developed is encouraging future projects to consider rehab for less than 40 tons where realistic. As you note many crossings don't really seem to "need" 40 tons.

Pennsylvania loves its metal grate decks. I have no idea why, any more than I know why Ohio loves its timber decks with asphalt wearing surfaces. Decks that provide a solid roadway with a full drainage system protect the bridge to the greatest degree, but may be more costly and higher in dead load as well. Metal grate decks do not deflect salt at all, but they also don't need to be snowplowed.

Canal Rd./Shenango River Bridge
Posted October 10, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Thanks for attaching those links. They were very informative. I was unaware of that 40 ton restriction. I can understand why that's necessary on a major highway, but it seems a bit overkill for a small street that leads into a park. Ambulances and small commercial vehicles are going to be significantly less than than 40 tons in weight.

It seems to me that a lot of bridges seem to get declared unsafe or downgraded due to deterioration on the deck stringers of the bottom chords where salt and water are often present. That is what happened to the Willard Bridge in Kansas. Salt was being tracked onto the bridge where it fell through the metal grate deck and right onto the stringers near each end of the bridge.

Canal Rd./Shenango River Bridge
Posted October 9, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I am attaching the PennDOT Rehab feasibility report as well as a letter I submitted about the project too. Note the Project Purpose and Need section of PennDOT's report. Those were basically the reasons given. All Section 106 Docs can be viewed by the public here: https://search.paprojectpath.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?Project...

The truss was deteriorated, but certainly feasible to rehab. One of the challenges I note in Pennsylvania is a refusal by PennDOT or local governments to own bridges that are not open to vehicular traffic. Further, the 40 ton requirement is typical for vehicular crossings. Most of these bridges after proper restoration should offer 15-20 tons. But sadly not 40 tons.

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 1,258,516 bytes)

Attachment #2 (application/pdf; 538,804 bytes)

Canal Rd./Shenango River Bridge
Posted October 4, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Okay, I'm trying to make some sense of the idea that this bridge might be in danger of demolition. It looks to me that this bridge gave access to a park and it has been bypassed by a modern bridge already.

In addition, this is an uncommon example of a Camelback Truss. It is also a relatively rare example of a pre 1900 Parker Truss. Furthermore, it was built by a regional bridge company that has relatively few examples of its work left. To make matters even more interesting, it has some really nice portal bracing and an ornate plaque.

Based on the photos I have seen, this bridge does not look like it's beyond restorable. Yes it might need a little work but I can't see why it could not be fixed up in order to carry bicycles and pedestrians in and out of the park.

Am I missing something here? Is this bridge really scheduled for demolition? Is there a reason why it needs to be demolished? This one looks like a prime candidate for restoration not demolition.