Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge

The Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge carries 11th Street over the Ohio River between Ambridge and Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. It was originally referred to as the Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge.


History

The need for a bridge connecting Ambridge and Woodlawn was long warranted in the early 20th century due to their rapid growth brought on by the emerging steel industry. As early as May 1914 was a proposal to add a second ferry between the two boroughs. 10 The existing ferry, operated by the Jones & Loughlin tin plant in Woodlawn, was reportedly inadequate. 11

Initial bridge plans from 1917 centered on four proposals: 9

  • A bridge connecting Ambridge and Woodlawn at a cost of $738,000.
  • A bridge connecting Baden with Aliquippa at a cost of $936,000.
  • A suspension bridge connecting Ambridge and Woodlawn at a cost of $525,000.
  • A suspension bridge connecting Baden with Aliquippa at a cost of $665,000.

Due to the onset of World War I, the bridge proposal was tabled. The idea of a bridge between the two boroughs was revived on November 20, 1924 when Beaver County commissioners met with the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the bridge project. 12 A bond issue of $1.5 million was submitted to the county voters and was passed in shortly after.

On December 12, Rep. Thomas W. Phillips introduced a bill in Congress to give Beaver County the authority to build the proposed bridge. 7 It was passed by Congress in February 1925 4 and received approval from the Army Corps of Engineers in September. 13

Construction

A contract for the Woodlawn piers was let to the Dravo Contracting Company of Pittsburgh on February 8, 1926 for $145,400. 6 The work, which also included changing the Ambridge approach to 11th Street, was to be completed by July 1. By July 24, it was reported that one pier was completed, another was two-thirds finished and a cofferdam for the fourth pier is underway while piling for the third pier had been sunk. 14 Dravo completed work on the piers on August 14. 16

On August 4, 1926, the American Bridge Company received approval to place false work in the Ohio River. 15 The company was required to provide a clear channel span of 530 feet at all times. Work was set to begin on August 15 and be completed by November 15.

The steel superstructure, with cantilevered Baltimore through trusses, a Warren through truss and two stringer spans, was sourced from the nearby Aliquippa Works for $609,000 and was erected by the American Bridge Company for $337,500. The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad paid $39,000 for the portion of the bridge over its tracks.

The $570,648 3 bridge was opened to the public on December 11, 1927 as the Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge. 2 It opened well behind of schedule, with original plans showing that it would not be open until May 1 8 17 and then July 4. 5 The total cost of the new crossing was $750,000. 2

The official dedication ceremonies were held on December 29, which included a crowd of 10,000 and a line of vehicles two miles that stretched down the new approach roadway in Woodlawn. A figure of George Washington was mounted on a pedestal on one end of the bridge to commemorate Washington’s activities in the county while a life statue of a doughboy marked the other end. 18 The latter was paid for by the Ambridge post of the American Legion.

Renovations

The Ambrose-Aliquippa Bridge underwent a $16.6 million rehabilitation project beginning in December 2011. 19 From March 2012 to November 15 and from March 4, 2013 20 to November 14, 21 the road was closed to all traffic while Trumbull Corporation of Pittsburgh worked on the bridge. The project entailed blasting and painting the substructure and superstructure with primer and paint, repairing substructure steel in spans two to six, repairing all gusset plates, the removal and replacement of the bridge deck, new parapets, repairs to pier one and nine and the abutments, and new expansion dams.

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