Aging Singer Road Bridge Retains History After Renovation

March 31, 2021 | Innovator

Historic infrastructure adds depth to a region’s personality and often is a point of attraction for residents and tourists.

Maintaining aging construction requires additional care and coordination but can help sustain the essence of the area. The Singer Road bridge in southern Pennsylvania has served the local community since its initial construction in 1905. Over the years, the historic structure has been preserved with periodic rehabilitation updates, including a major deck restoration in 1995. During the most recent renovation, KCI was contracted to perform construction inspection for the rehabilitation of the abutments and supports, which required lifting the bridge completely off and installing it back in place.

The bridge’s foundation, made from 10-ton stones, was set by horses in the early 20th century.

The truss bridge crosses over the York County Heritage rail trail and serves a vital role to the surrounding community by offering convenient access to the highway. The century-old structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, making coordination among municipal and state agencies a paramount concern. The construction team worked with the York County Board of Commissioners and Rail Trail Authority, York County Public Works, New Freedom Borough, the Northern Central Railway and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to complete the complex rehabilitation project and ensure the original truss members were repaired or replaced while maintaining its historical integrity.

The triangular steel members of this pony truss bridge, a popular style of structure in the 1900s, were used to lift the superstructure off its abutments.

This $1.2 million project sought to re-strengthen the load bearings, allowing for additional weight capacity while preserving the integrity of the truss. In order to complete the renovation, the entire 40-ton superstructure was lifted away by crane and placed on the western side of the crossing. A two-mile detour was posted and implemented to allow travel between the nearby houses and the main roadway. Design plans had been created to address the bridge’s issues, but in the short time between the planning and construction phases, the truss’s condition had worsened, requiring additional steel repairs.

Due to the nature of the aged bridge, extra caution was used during the first crane lift of the bridge superstructure by utilizing stabilizers in conjunction with the rigging. The construction inspection team conducted constant inspection of camber during pre-erection, during the pick and after it was placed in its temporary location to be rehabilitated.

Other improvements such as cleaning and repainting the truss, installing concrete barriers to improve safety, repairing deteriorated sections and replacing floor beams, stringers, bearings and the deck were completed while the bridge was disconnected and laid on the ground nearby. Our team oversaw the construction that bolstered the load bearing maximum from 12 to 14 tons across the 64-foot section, in addition to improvements that allowed for better wind bracing. The majority of the work was completed in a way that allowed for metal expansion and contraction resulting from temperature changes once reinstalled. The structure’s total length, clearance and approach alignment were all preserved as work continued, and a fresh new coat of paint was applied once the steel rehabilitation was complete.

“While the historic aspect of the Singer Road bridge made coordination more complicated than other typical structural projects, there is a certain sense of purpose that comes with restoring something so deeply rooted in our commonwealth’s past.”

– Brian Guillaume, Practice Leader

Once the repairs were finalized, the project team confirmed load capacity logistics before returning the superstructure to its original location. During the lift and subsequent overhead operations, York County park rangers managed pedestrian traffic along the trail below. Workers moved quickly to reattach the structure and secure the bridge prior to a deck pour of specialized lightweight concrete.

KCI oversaw the entire renovation process, from initial inspections to the final placement of the rehabilitated bridge.

With the Singer Road bridge work complete, residents regained convenient access to the highway and a local historic landmark and pedestrians walking on the trail below are able to appreciate this vestige of the past that will now safely function for the foreseeable future.

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