Bridge Sale

Holly Tonini/Observer-Reporter

The Hodgens Bridge at Walker Hill Road near Taylorstown

Lisa Cessna has never been to Brooklyn, but she has a bridge she wants to sell you.

How’d you like to be the new owner of the Hodgens Bridge over Buffalo Creek at Walker Hill Road near Taylorstown in bucolic Washington County?

With a mere three-ton weight limit, county officials know the Hodgens Bridge needs to be replaced, according to Cessna, who, as executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, oversees county bridges.

“We’re trying to mitigate the loss of a historic structure,” Cessna said this week.

The new owner can’t buy the bridge and set up a tollbooth. The bridge will have to be moved.

If it’s still standing somewhere next year, the Hodgens Bridge will reach the ripe old age of 130, predating mass production of the automobile.

The sale is being advertised on a PennDOT website until August. If no one’s shopping for a span, the county has permission to demolish it.

It’s safe to say it has outlived those who built it. According to the “Historic Bridges” website, Hodgens was constructed by Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, Beaver County.

“Historic metal truss bridges are an important part of Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage,” wrote Howard Pollman, director for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s external affairs, in response to an email inquiry.

“Unfortunately, modern traffic needs and a lack of maintenance funding have accelerated the loss of these bridges in recent years, with over 50 percent of the population of metal truss bridges being lost since 2001.

“In an effort to preserve these bridges, PennDOT, in concert with the State Historic Preservation Office, have developed a management plan that includes marketing metal truss bridges that can no longer meet the needs of their crossing.”

Interested in both preservation and serving the needs of the modern traveling public, the state Historical and Museum Commission gave Washington County some leeway in dealing with a pair of its old bridges.

The county proposed a deal: It would save the Potter Bridge, also known as the Robinson Run Road Bridge in West Finley Township, and move it to a new walking and biking trail being developed at Cross Creek County Park near West Middletown. The Potter Bridge, built in 1881, is also considered a historic structure.

“We offered to add the Hodgens Bridge to PennDOT’s marketing website in hopes of finding a new owner who could adaptively reuse the bridge,” Pollman wrote.

The bridge is referred to as the Walker Hill Road Bridge on the website.

For bridge aficionados, the “Historic Bridges” website describes the Hodgens Bridge as a metal, seven-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss.

Cessna looked into disassembling the Hodgens Bridge, and, because of its 100-foot length, the cost would be about $700,000.

“That one’s a really big structure,” she said. “If there are no takers, we’re then allowed to demolish it and move on.”

Offers for the bridge are being accepted until Aug. 15.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer Barbara S. Miller is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College. She covers Washington County government, courts and general assignments.

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