Iron Trusses

For many decades, the ingenuity and gentle beauty of our metal truss bridges have been under-appreciated. Only now, as their numbers dwindle and approach the rarity of covered bridges, are they being valued. It is our belief that, while not all merit restoration, many metal trusses can be rehabilitated to serve current needs, safely and effectively. When this is done, such bridges add variety to our landscape, and a sense of continuity to our lives. Thus, they contribute value beyond merely carrying traffic.

We are available to work on such bridges throughout the eastern United States. Please contact us via phone or e-mail for answers to questions or inquiries about help we might provide.

For a magazine article our President wrote on the subject 25 years ago, click Indiana’s Iron Truss Bridges.

For the metal truss rehabilitation projects we are doing, and which Mr. Barker has completed, see below.

Jefferson County Bridge #30 …Jefferson County, Indiana, decided to rehabilitate this 149′ thru Whipple truss. Built by the Indianapolis Bridge Company in 1885, it is one of a few surviving examples of this early firm’s work. Also known as the Tobias Bridge, it is noteworthy for its wrought iron construction, its ribbon-laced verticals, and its cast iron portal decorations. The north abutment is 30 feet high, constructed of cut stones, and is in excellent condition.

Monroe County Bridge #114This hundred-foot long, pin-connected Pratt truss had a 3 ton load limit due to numerous deficiencies. Our repair plan remedied all of the previously observed deficiencies, as well as others that had not been noticed before. The work was carefully designed to avoid changing the proportions and appearance of the structure. Although new floorbeams were required, dimensions were chosen to match the depth and flange width of the old ones. Bids for the rehabilitation project were opened on July 12, 2002 and CLR, Inc., was the contractor. Barker Engineering provided inspection for the County. The bridge was closed less than 100 calendar days. It now has a 14 ton safe load limit. This project was chosen to receive the 2003 Indiana Partnership for Highway Quality Achievement Award from the Federal Highway Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation.

Freedom BridgeCurrent project... When this 300′ Pennsylvania truss in Owen County is replaced with a new bridge, it will be moved to a new home at Conner Prairie Museum, where it will continue to provide a crossing over the White River, albeit at a location further up river.

George Street Bridge, Aurora, Indiana…200′ span Whipple Truss with 60′ approach span, in downtown Aurora. Main span is iron, circa 1878; approach is steel, circa 1900. Bridge had been closed to all traffic due to multiple problems. Designed a complete, historically accurate, rehabilitation that allowed bridge to reopen with an HS20-44 load limit, carrying two traffic lanes plus a sidewalk. Used federal aid, and met all federal-aid criteria. Work included new floor system and utility pipes, substructure reinforcement, truss analysis, truss reinforcement where needed, portal bracing reinforcement without compromising existing historic detail or information, and new paint system.

Bartholomew County Bridge #73…two span, 200′ long, pin-connected, Pratt Truss, circa 1912.
Work included replacement of non-functioning expansion bearings, repair of collision damage, replacement of upper lateral bracing, widening of abutments to provide safer support, protection of abutments from scour, and cleaning and painting. Mr. Barker designed a complete rehabilitation of the structure. An important part of the project was providing guardrail and traffic control devises meeting AASHTO standards. The work started as a locally funded project, but was switched to utilize federal aid enhancement funds.

Bartholomew County Bridge #133…two span, 200′ long, gusset-plate Pratt Truss, circa 1911. Mr. Barker designed a complete rehabilitation of the structure. Emphasis was on achieving maximum load limit and functionality while maintaining historic values. The work started as a locally funded project, but was switched to utilize federal aid enhancement funds. Despite superficial similarity with bridge #73, this is very different. Bridge #133 has different problems, and is a riveted truss, whereas #73 is pin-connected.

Shelby County Bridge #41…153′ span steel Camelback Pratt Truss, circa 1920.
Load limit was 5 tons. A locally funded repair was made that raised the safe posted load limit to 15 tons. Work included complete structural analysis of the truss, deck removal, reinforcement of all floor beams, new stringers, new deck, repair of deteriorated portions of truss structure, repair of concrete deterioration around truss bearing seats, and painting.

Decatur County Bridge #179100′ long Pratt Truss, circa 1920.
The stone abutments were especially tall; 35′ high. They had started to crack and spread apart, pulling the truss off its bearing shoes. Repairs were designed that stopped the abutments from further deterioration, repaired the existing cracks, jacked and rest the truss on relocated bearing seats, and repaired less threatening problems of the superstructure.

Some of the foregoing projects were designed by Mr. Barker while employed with another firm, prior to founding J.A. Barker Engineering in 1998. However, Mr. Barker was chief designer and Engineer-of-Record for each.

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