Economic prosperity in the years following World War I allowed many households to purchase motor vehicles. This led to the development of road commissions throughout the nation, commissions that began paving roads and building bridges. Wayne County’s Road Commission initiated a major program of developing roads in the early 1920s. A three-and-one-half mile stretch of Waltz Road between Willow Road and the village of New Boston was paved. This necessitated erecting the bridge that you see. Previously a foot bridge spanned the Huron River at this point, a bridge designed to let children living south of the village cross the river to attend school. Thw Waltz Road Bridge was one of 15 bridges constructed by the Wayne County Road Commission in 1924-1925.
The bridge consists of two identical, seven-panel camelback Pratt pony truss spans. You will see sidewalks on both sides of the roadway. Apparently, the designers knew that children would still be walking to school in New Boston. The sidewalks are outside the trusses so pedestrians are safely separated from vehicle traffic. Shortly after the completion of this bridge, the French Landing dam upstream on the Huron River failed, causing a major flood. The bridge withstood that test.
Nathan Holth, who's website is listed below, providing definitive historic information about hundreds of bridges, observes that this is an excellent example of the pony truss design that was used frequently in the 1920s. He also notes that it is unusual to find a bridge that has retained its original sidewalks and their railings intact for such a long time.
Builder: Mt. Vernon Bridge Company of Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Date of Construction: 1924
Style: Two span pony truss bridge with seven panels in each span
National Register of Historic Sites: Structure #00000081 Listed: February 2, 2000
Michigan Register of Historic Places: P25,544
Michigan Historic Marker: None put in place
Use in 2010: Waltz Road Bridge over the Huron River
Websites describing this bridge: http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/newboston/index.htm and http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9620_11154_11188-29311--,00.html
Photograph: Ren Farley, May 4, 2008
Description updated: Januray, 2010
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