Donora - Webster Bridge
|The Donora-Webster Bridge near the end of its service to vehicular traffic. 10 days after this photo was taken the bridge was closed to traffic after a routine bridge inspection deemed the bridge extremely unsafe.|
I must admit that while walking across the bridge I was rather uneasy with the Monongahela River some 20 or 30 odd feet below. There was the unforgettable melodic hum - the sound coming from the very few cars that did cross the bridge during my brief time on it. (By the time the bridge closed, an average of only 3,000 cars per day crossed it.) If you don't cross open grate bridges often, you don't really think about that distinct hum - the sound of rubber tires on open metal - but once you hear it again you know it instantly. When researching about this bridge, the sound, and other's recollections of it, was the one thing I couldn't get out of my mind.
I did manage to take a photo of the Mon through the open grates and even that gave me an uneasy feeling. I do not know how local residents would have walked across the bridge in later years. The bridge was also deemed unsafe for pedestrians when it closed 10 days later.
In spite of being closed in July 2009, the saddest days for the bridge were still ahead. For six years, the bridge stood proudly but quiet and empty. As you traveled along PA 906 on the Webster side of the bridge, you could see the bridge up ahead, the traffic lights at Kline Street were still operating but standing tall at the steep ramp to the bridge were a set of road closed signs and a number of other barricades and some warnings about trespassing. It wouldn't be until July 1st, 2015 that the old Donora-Webster bridge finally came down. Demolition charges sent the 107 year old bridge crashing into the Monongahela below. There wouldn't be a replacement bridge - the traffic counts were too low and the costs were two high - plus the "New Bridge" is only a few miles upstream.
So if your travels take you over one of those old rickety bridges that have an open grate to the water below. Cross it and listen to that distinct sound - you may never know when you'll hear that sound again.
All photos taken by post author - July 4, 2009.