ZETTLEMOYER'S BRIDGE

BERKS COUNTY, PA

McCormick Taylor was responsible for the rehabilitation design and the construction inspection of Zettlemoyer’s Bridge, a 116-year-old, single-span, 154-foot-long steel Pratt through truss bridge that carries Long Road over Maiden Creek in Berks County.

THE CHALLENGE

Creating safe bridge components while still maintaining the inherent beauty of the Pratt through truss bridge was the project’s biggest challenge. The location of the bridge added to the difficulty. Zettlemoyer’s Bridge is a single-lane structure that carries two-way traffic, and is located at the intersection of Long Road and State Route 143. The area on the northeastern side of the bridge is residential and rural with a variety of deciduous trees that grow throughout the area. 

 

Long Road in this vicinity is in part unpaved and has challenging vertical and horizontal alignments which are not conducive to emergency vehicles, school buses, and trash and oil trucks, specifically in heavy rain events and winter storms. Given the bridge’s three-ton weight limit and subsequent closure, traversing Long Road was the only access to homes in the area. The rehabilitated bridge is posted for 10 tons, can accommodate some light trucks and permitted vehicles, and provides an alternate mean of access to residences while still maintaining the picturesque view of the bridge and its surroundings.

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HOW WE HELPED

Prior to developing the rehabilitation design, McCormick Taylor completed a feasibility study and in-depth structural inspection. We provided recommendations and alternatives to the County of Berks and assisted with programming and budgeting for the project. It was decided that the County would rehabilitate the bridge and transfer ownership to Greenwich Township upon completion.

 

While developing the rehabilitation design, it was determined that the steel trusses were coated with a lead-based paint system, as are many structures of this vintage. The County of Berks and Greenwich Township wanted the bridge returned to its original splendor. Once all the truss repairs were completed, a containment structure was built around the bridge, the lead paint was removed and properly disposed of, and the steel was repainted.

 

Key elements of this rehabilitation design included the replacement of the truss pins and floor system, the replacement of the deteriorated bituminous filled metal deck pans with a new laminated timber deck, erosion and sediment measures, and safety feature improvements. McCormick Taylor provided structural design and obtained the required environmental permitting as well as the PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit necessary for the work adjacent to State Route 143.

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RESULTS

The rehabilitation of Zettlemoyer’s Bridge benefits the community through improved safety as well as providing an alternate route to residences that were otherwise only accessible via navigating a rural unpaved local road with significant vertical and horizontal alignment limitations. Additional signage was also placed at the bridge and at the approaches, indicating the one-lane bridge and the posted weight limit. The 10-ton bridge allows timelier emergency response to the residents along Long Road. A final benefit is the preservation of a unique structure that complements the rural setting of the area and will adequately serve the residents of Greenwich Township for the foreseeable future.

 

Construction was completed in July of 2020 by Road-Con, Inc., from West Chester, PA, and the rehabilitated bridge is now posted for a 10-ton weight limit.

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