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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.


Mabey variant Bailey pony truss; Double Story bridge over N F Holston River on Gov. Plant Road
Saltville, Smyth County, Virginia
Open to traffic
Future prospects
This bridge has been 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.
Built 1978, reinforced in 2018 to handle exceptionally heavy loads.
- Mabey Bridge Ltd. of Lydney, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom & Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, United Kingdom
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 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