I have been long fascinated with a collection of four lift bridges in close proximity to each other along the Hackensack River in New Jersey. The juxtaposition of the new and old, of glossy black paint and rust, and of streamlined design and complexity provide fodder for captivating photography—especially as one of the crossings is nearing the end of its serviceable life.
Below are some of my favorite images that I was able to take not long ago of these four lift bridges. In no particular order below, they are of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PATH) Bridge, Pennsylvania Railroad Harsimus Branch Bridge, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (Lower Hack) Bridge, and Wittpenn Bridge. The four lift crossings were constructed in the late 1920s and early 1930s and replaced earlier swing spans that had been declared navigational hazards because of their low clearance above the water and narrow draw openings.
Of the four bridges from that era, the Wittpenn Bridge is the only one that is being replaced. The four-lane bridge carries NJ Route 7 over the river, but it’s long been declared functionally obsolete because of its narrow travel lanes and high accident rates. Additionally, the substructure and superstructure have major issues that rehabilitation could not cost-effectively resolve long-term.