The Easly Bridge is located along US Route 52 in the City of Bluefield, Mercer County, West Virginia and spans both US Route 19 and the tracks of the Norfolk Southern Corporation (formerly the Norfolk and Western Railway Company.) The heavily traveled vehicular and pedestrian bridge was built in 1936 to provide improved access between Bluefield Avenue and areas north of the Norfolk and Wesstern tracks. The present, two-lane overhead highway bridge replaced an earlier, one-lane undergrade culvert that previously carried automotive traffic in the general vacinity (WV State Road Commission 1936). The Easley Bridge has an overall length of 789 feet 4 inches (241 meters) measured from the backwalls of the northern and southern abutments. The bridge has a 32 foot (9.75 meter) wide, asphalt-paved, reinforced concrete roadway and a five-foot wide sidewalk along its wastern side. The bridge consists of 13 rolled steel T-beam reinforced concrete spans (Spans 1, 2, 3, and 4-14) and a single 119-foot (36 meter) long steel riveted pony truss span (Span No. 3) which carries traffic over the Norfolk Southern Corporation railroad tracks. Except for steel handrails aloong the length of the pony truss, bridge railing is reinforced concrete. The spans of Easley Bridge are supported by 13 open-column reinforced concrete piers. These include both four-column and two-column piers that rest upon concrete footings. The full height southern abutment is reinforced concrete with U-shaped wingwalls. It rests upon reinforced concrete stepped spread footings.
Except fot the steel pony truss at Span 3, the Easley Bridge consists of five reinforced concrete T-beams of varying depths which run longitudinally beneath Spans 1, 2 and 4 through 14 and by perpendicular reinforced concrete T-beams. Additional support is provide by several segmented arches in the piers of these spans.
The riveted steel pony truss at Span 3 consists of 10 panels each measuring 9 feet, 9-1/2 inches, and two end panels. The northern and southern end panels measure 10 feet, 11-11/16 inches and 8 feet, 7-5/16 inches long, respectively. The uppeer chord of the truss span is formed from 18-inch deep channels joined by 24-inch wide cover plates. The lower chord consists of 18-inch deep channels. Truss verticals range in length from 10 to 15 feet and are formed from 14-inch wide flange shapes of varying weights. The steel diagnonals and other web somponents of the pony truss at Span 3 are fastened mainly with rivets, although threaded bolts and hex fasteners are also used on the diagonal support members. The floor system along Span 3 is framed into the lower chord of the truss and consists of 36-inch deep floor beams positioned at 9 feet 9-1/2 inches. Lateral bracing beneath the bridge deck provides torsional strength along the bridge's horizontal plane.
The Easley Bridge originally contained three bridge plaques, of which only two remain. The third plaque, bearing the legend "Frank S. Easley Bridge-1939" was formerly situated at Span 10 but was recently stolen (Eva and Tyler Easley, personal communication 1997). One of the two surviving metal plaques is situated along the eastern inner parapet wall. Along with the state seal, it listes the Easley Bridge's official bridge number (Bridge No. 1405) and records the 1936 bridge construction date. The second plaque is affixed to the northeastern portal of the steel pony truss and reiterates the 1936 construction date. It indicates that the truss span was fabricated by the Virginia Bridge Company of Roanoke, Virginia and erected by the T.A. Loving Commpany of Goldsboro, North Carolina.
In January of 1939, the newly completed Poplar Street Bridge was formally designated as the Frank S. Easley Bridge by an act of the West Virginia House of Delegates, the first time in the state's history that a bridge was named for a person still living (Eva and Tyler Easley, personal communication 1997). This honor was in recognition of Easley's long-term errorts to improve local and regional transportation, including his service as head of the Good Roads Committee of the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce and later, his work as chairman of the West Virginia Turnpike Commission.
In summary, the Easly Bridge is significant as a representative example of the many reinforced concrete automotive bridges built across West Virgina and surrounding states during the first half of the twentieth century to facilitate efficient transportation within the state's emerging highway system.
Joel S. Dzodin, GAI Consultants, Inc., October 6, 1997