Wangum Falls Bridge

Wayne County Commissioners | Wayne County, PA
bridge over waterfall

Wangum Falls Bridge, a single-lane Warren truss, was originally listed for replacement by the state of Pennsylvania in 2002. The state typically replaces deficient structures with modern concrete span structures in order to achieve a balance between function, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. When an overweight vehicle fell through the bridge’s wooden deck in 2013, the bridge was closed, and the project accelerated to construction.

As owners of the Wangum Falls Bridge, the Wayne County Commissioners understood the importance of the structure; not only with regard to its functionality and means of access for local residents and Camp Watonka, but as a historical marker to the Pennsylvania Coal Company Gravity Railroad, and a location with tremendous environmental sensitivity.

Benesch provided preliminary engineering, final design and construction services. The project team initiated a robust program to involve stakeholders and identify their needs and desires. After completing an in-depth investigation of various alternatives, the logical choice was the use of a prefabricated galvanized steel truss.

The bridge was carefully designed and constructed to minimize impact on the environmental and historical setting. The project team used unique bridge fabrication and construction processes to erect four separate truss sections at the site without disturbing historical rock cuts.

Due to the one-lane bridge width, a custom-built “shorter than normal” truss screed was needed to place and finish the deck. Custom-made temporary hangars were also needed for the non-standard deck overhangs. Guiderail and bridge rail were customized to notch into the close confides of the rock cuts.

The final bridge result is a testament that unique structures are worth saving. Educational lesson plans were developed for the neighboring Camp Watonka that focus on the significant history between the railroad and the bridge. An interpretive panel that details the bridge’s history and designs was also installed at the site.

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  • 2017, Diamond Honor Award, American Council of Engineering Companies - Pennsylvania