CT's Historic Masonry Arches

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Congress Street Bridge,
Bridge No. 4251

Congress Street Bridge

Congress Street over Pequonnock River
Steel Scherzer rolling-lift bascule
Length: 5 spans, 425' overall, 86' double-leaf bascule
Built 1909-1911
Raymond F. Stoddard, engineer
Fort Pitt Bridge Works, fabricator

Congress Street BridgeBridgeport had more movable bridges than any other Connecticut city. In the early 20th century, it was the state's most heavily industrialized city, and waterways such as the Pequonnock River and Yellow Mill Channel provided transportation for coal and other vital materials. The Congress Street bridge is the oldest of the city's four remaining historic movable bridges. It is an example of one of the most innovative designs, the patented Scherzer rolling lift. This type of bascule does not rotate on a pivot; instead, the lift span rolls back on a huge curved track as it opens. The design, perfected in Chicago in the 1890s, gave greater clearance for the waterway as it rolled back and also did away with the high-stress pivots needed by other types of bascules. The disadvantage was that a substantial foundation had to be constructed to bear the weight of the bridge as it rolled back. With its concrete approach spans, tile-roofed operator's house, and original railing, the Congress Street Bridge is a relatively unaltered example of this important early 20th-century bridge type.

The bridge was built by a special city commission and cost nearly $300,000. Since the bridge also carried streetcar traffic, the local trolley company contributed $30,000.

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