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Bender Bridge Road Bridge


Bridgemapper.com photo

Photo taken by Todd Wilson in 2009

BH Photo #404992


Pony truss bridge over Elk Lick Creek on TR 504 (Bender Bridge Road)
Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Destroyed by collision
Built 1885; rehabilitated 1993
- Penn Bridge Works of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (according to PENNDOT) [also known as Penn Bridge Co.]
Pratt pony truss
Length of largest span: 44.9 ft.
Total length: 47.9 ft.
Deck width: 13.1 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Fike Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.81167, -79.06667   (decimal degrees)
39°48'42" N, 79°04'00" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/665486/4408642 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
PA 55 7224 0504 3067 (Pennsylvania Bridge Management System number)
PANBI 31906 (Pennsylvania BRKEY bridge number on the 2011 NBI)
BH 31621 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of April 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 22.8 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • October 30, 2020: New photos from Art Suckewer
  • September 23, 2020: Updated by Art Suckewer: added alternate name and possible builder
  • September 23, 2020: Updated by Nathan Holth: Destroyed by an idiot driver.
  • December 19, 2017: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"



Bender Bridge Road Bridge
Posted September 23, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Art... I agree with all your points, although I would still hold the driver accountable for spinning out on the bridge deck. A driver must always operate their vehicle safely. In Michigan for example, one must reduce speed in snowy conditions, even if that means going 30mph on the Interstate. Similarly, a one lane timber deck bridge is a cause for a driver to reduce speed. If you are going fast enough to spin out you are going TOO FAST. Period.

And the bridge was for sure built by Penn Bridge Company because it has a builder plaque on it.

Bender Bridge Road Bridge
Posted September 23, 2020, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


As you make everything idiot-proof, the idiots are no longer culled from the herd early, putting non-idiot-proofed things at greater risk... :^)

Actually, I think this was a genuine accident where someone spun on the wood deck and hit the side. AKA: s..t happens. The newspaper articles show a full sized Dodge SUV with relatively minor damage.

As I see it, there were two problems:

1. It was on the replacement list, so it wasn't going to be around much longer and no real thought was given to protection of the historic bridge by the locals.

2. The guardrail was mounted in/to the truss so offered no protection to the bridge from the lateral forces of the car's impact. I believe it was you that educated me, long ago, that a simple solution existed to prevent this.

One of the sad things about the loss is the extent of the bridge's originality. It still had wooden stringers! Except for the concrete added to the abutments and the guardrail, it was in original 1885 configuration!


Art S.

PS. Same thing happened to Van Zile Road in Indiana. Only difference was the tension members were grazed and didn't snap and the original railing failed and didn't stress the compression members. As a result the bridge remained standing and was repaired. The full sized van that caused that one had the front wheels hanging over the side. The van also looked repairable but the driver's seat probably needed to be swapped out due to the brown stains :^)

Bender Bridge Road Bridge
Posted September 23, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

It seems like this happens with alarming frequency lately, but we have another beautiful pin-connected truss bridge destroyed by a a driver, in this case vehicle whose car "left the roadway" according to the report on September 3, 2020. Why are there so many idiot drivers in this country? Why do we even bother with drivers training and licenses? People who cannot control and safely operate their vehicles should NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE!!!!