McKees Rocks Bridge
The McKees Rocks Bridge is an engineering marvel that stands proudly across the Ohio River, connecting McKees Rocks and Pittsburgh. This historic bridge, with its unique design and construction, has been serving as a vital link between communities since 1931.
The Architectural Highlights
The McKees Rocks Bridge is renowned for its architectural uniqueness. It features a two-hinge metal through arch design and a Pratt Stiffening truss, similar to the iconic Hells Gate Bridge in New York. The bridge is home to a variety of span types, making it a pattern book on bridge types. The main span over the Ohio River is a braced rib through arch, often also referred to as a “trussed” through arch.
Construction of the Bridge
1914 is when the plans for the McKees Rocks Bridge were first proposed by Chief Allegheny County engineer James G. Chalfant. However, the bridge’s construction didn’t start until 1929, after a long negotiation period between Allegheny County and the U.S. War Department. The construction was supervised by the Allegheny County Department of Public Works and was completed in 1931.
The Grand Opening
After two years of rigorous construction, the McKees Rocks Bridge was inaugurated amidst grand fanfare on August 19, 1931. The grand opening of the bridge was celebrated with a parade of over 2,000 cars, marking the beginning of a new era of connectivity for the local communities.
Designated as Historic Place
In recognition of its historic and architectural significance, the McKees Rocks Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. This listing further cemented the bridge’s place in the annals of Pittsburgh’s history.
One of the most striking features of the Bridge is its variety of span types. These include two through crescent arches of 300-foot span each, eight deck trusses, a river span that is two-hinged trussed arch of 750 feet, and three cantilever trusses.
Adding an artistic touch to this magnificent structure are the Art Deco pylons that bear Frank Vittor’s sculptures, adding aesthetic appeal to the otherwise industrial appearance of the bridge.
Modern Day Use
Today, the McKees Rocks Bridge serves as a major roadway, carrying three lanes of traffic. It facilitates the easy movement of people and goods across the Ohio River, contributing significantly to the region’s economy.
Rehabilitation and Preservation
In 1987, the bridge underwent a substantial rehabilitation to ensure its longevity. Despite the upgrades, the bridge retains much of its historic charm, making it a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike.
An Enduring Symbol
The Bridge stands as a powerful symbol of Pittsburgh’s history and its commitment to connecting communities. Its unique architecture and historical significance make it an enduring landmark in the region.
From its inception in the early 20th century to its role in modern day Pittsburgh, the McKees Rocks Bridge has stood the test of time. It remains, to this day, an iconic symbol of the city’s architectural prowess and the spirit of connection that embodies the community.