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Government Plant Bridge


Photo taken by Timothy and Joann Phillips in March 2019

License: Released into public domain


BH Photo #444255


The Government Plant in Saltville was once the sole producer of anhydrous hydrazine for the US Air Force. This rocket propellant helped send Apollo rockets into space. Closed for some years, the road across the river and through the plant offered American Electric Power an alternative route for moving new transformers to it's Broadford yard without jeopardizing the structural integrity of the highway 91 bridge crossing the North Fork. This design evolved from temporary bridges used by the military since the second world war and accommodates the 500,000 pound transformers that must be moved across the river.

See pictures... the "Bailey" attachment is no longer on this bridge.


Former Mabey variant Bailey pony truss; Double Story steel stringer bridge over Holston River, North Fork on Government Plant Road
Saltville, Smyth County, Virginia
"Bailey" attachment removed, steel stringer bridge now closed to all traffic
Future prospects
This bridge was reinforced with the addition of a "Mabey" or "Bailey" bridge to accommodate the transport of 500,000 pound transformers to Broadford, Va. as part of a substation maintenance project by American Electric Power. That Bailey attachment has been removed to reveal a simple steel stringer bridge, which is now closed.
Built 1978, reinforced in 2018 to handle exceptionally heavy loads. "Bailey" attachment removed... now a simple steel stringer bridge
- Mabey Bridge Ltd. of Lydney, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom & Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, United Kingdom
Former Mabey variant Bailey pony truss; Double Story
Length of largest span: 54.1 ft.
Total length: 161.1 ft.
Deck width: 23.6 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.89153, -81.75827   (decimal degrees)
36°53'30" N, 81°45'30" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/432435/4083108 (zone/easting/northing)
Average daily traffic (as of 1991)
Inventory numbers
VA 22611 (Virginia bridge number)
BH 84606 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of December 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 58.9 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • March 12, 2022: Updated by Calvin Sneed: Visited this bridge on 3/11/22... see pictures. The "Bailey" attachment is no longer on this bridge.
  • March 6, 2019: Updated by Luke: Noted that bridge is a Mabey variant of the Bailey pony truss; Noted that it's a double story Bailey-style bridge
  • March 6, 2019: Added by Timothy and Joann Phillips


  • Timothy and Joann Phillips
  • Luke
  • Calvin Sneed - us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com