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Historic Truss Bridge Management Plan

As part of our mission to both maintain a safe and efficient transportation network and to care for Pennsylvania's transportation heritage, PennDOT, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the PA State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) developed a Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan (Management Plan). The Management Plan was to address the accelerating loss of historic metal truss bridges within the state. Historic metal truss bridges are those listed in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places. Pennsylvania has, by many accounts, the most distinct population of metal truss bridges in the United States; however, over half the population of historic metal truss bridges have been lost over the last 20+ years. The goal of the effort was, and remains, to take sensible measures to extend the useful life of historic metal truss bridges.

The effort began in 2012 by gathering a list of all extant historic metal truss bridges that are part of PennDOT's Bridge Management System. This was followed by the development of preservation assessments on bridges that could benefit from an assessment of preservation potential, followed by a planning phase that evaluated the needs of these crossings and sought to determine the likelihood that the bridge could be rehabilitated and/or maintained to meet those needs. Additional components of the plan included an effort to develop a manual on appropriate tools and techniques for the preservation and maintenance of metal truss bridges. 

The Management Plan was published in the Fall of 2017 following the conclusion of the planning phase. However, the Management Plan serves an ongoing purpose as a planning tool to help maximize the chances of rehabilitation for historic metal truss bridges. PennDOT continuously reaches out to local owners to gather information on the bridges including the overall condition and needs of the crossing. Bridges that are unable to be rehabilitated to meet the needs of the crossing may be added to PennDOT's Adaptive Use/Bridge Marketing website.  

The Historic Metal Truss Bridge Capital Rehabilitation Program, explained below, is an outgrowth of the Historic Truss Bridge Management Plan and the ongoing effort to support the rehabilitation of historic metal truss bridges. 

Historic Metal Truss Bridge Capital Rehabilitation Program

In 2021, the Twelve-Year Program (TYP) update included Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) discretionary funding (SPIKE funds) to promote the rehabilitation of historic metal truss bridges beginning in federal fiscal year 2023 (FFY 2023). This program has since been named the Historic Metal Truss Bridge Capital Rehabilitation Program (Program). The TYP includes $18 million dollars spread over a ten-year period. $1 million will be allocated during the first two years (FFY 2023 and FFY 2024) followed by $2 million per federal fiscal year (FFY) for the remaining years. There is no application process for this Program.

The Program is primarily focused on county and municipally owned historic metal truss bridges where owners desire to work collaboratively with PennDOT, MPO/RPOs, the SHPO and historic preservation interest groups and individuals to rehabilitate their resources for continuous vehicular transportation use. A preliminary list of historic metal truss bridges capable of meeting vehicular crossing needs was developed as part of the Management Plan. Additional bridges may be added to this list through PennDOT's ongoing ownership outreach to keep the Management Plan current. A committee comprised of representatives from: PennDOT's Program Center; PennDOT's Bureau of Project Delivery Environmental Policy and Development Section; the FHWA; and the SHPO, is charged with evaluating these bridges further and selecting bridges for the Program.

A secondary focus of the Program is to provide support for adaptive re-use projects seeking to reuse a historic metal truss bridge in a new location within the state for pedestrian and/or bicycle use. At present, is not anticipated that the Program will fully fund adaptive re-use projects, but the Program can support projects with funding gaps. Adaptive re-use projects are presented to the Committee on a rolling basis as the Committee becomes aware of them.

More information can be found in the Program Overview and Frequently Asked Questions documents.