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Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge

Columbia to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Constructed 1929-1930

Claim to Fame: When completed, the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge was the longest multiple-arch concrete highway bridge (one-mile) in the world.

Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge 
Courtesy Wikipedia/Joseph Elliot

The total length of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge is 7,374 feet. Its construction required 100,000 cubic yards of concrete and 8 million pounds of steel reinforcing rods. 

Consisting of 28 arches, each 185 feet long, the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge carrying automobile traffic across the Susquehanna River in southeast Pennsylvania is believed to be the longest concrete-arch bridge in the world. The bridge's location is also historically significant. The longest covered wooden bridge in the world - 5,690 feet long - was built there in 1814, only to be destroyed by ice and floods almost 20 years later. Its replacement - 70 feet shorter but considerably wider - was burned 30 years later by Union troops as a tactical measure during the Civil War.

A third bridge - 5,390 feet long - remained in place nearly another 30 years until its destruction by a hurricane in 1896. The fourth Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge, of  steel-truss construction, was erected in only 21 days and carried rail and highway traffic on the same deck. The trains ultimately proved to be a significant bottleneck to traffic on the transcontinental Lincoln Highway, completed in 1925. The present Columbia-Wrightsville bridge, dedicated solely to highway traffic, was built alongside the fourth bridge.

Facts
1. The total length of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge is 7,374 feet. Its construction required 100,000 cubic yards of concrete and 8 million pounds of steel reinforcing rods.
2. Each span of the present Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge consists of three separate concrete ribs connected at five points by horizontal concrete struts.
3. In nominating the present Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge as an engineering landmark, the Pennsylvania section of the American Society of Civil Engineers noted that it is "a splendid example of the graceful multiple-span, reinforced-concrete arched form popular in early 20th-century highway bridges in the United States."
4. The Lincoln Highway, also known as U.S. Highway 30, was the nation's first transcontinental highway, connecting a series of local highways and stretching from New York City to San Francisco. The opening in 1940 of the cross-state Pennsylvania Turnpike, a part of Interstate 76, subsequently provided faster passage.
5. The fourth Columbia-Wrightsville bridge carried passenger trains until 1954 and freight traffic until 1958. It was not dismantled until 1964. Remnants of the piers that supported it remain visible today.

Resources

Glenn Banner, Flames Across the Susquehanna, Columbia Historical Preservation Society.