Context Sensitive Design Options for Rural Workhorse Bridges in Historic Districts

Focus Area

Historic Preservation/Cultural Resources


Community & Cultural Concerns




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

In most states, commitment to put a context-sensitive bridge in as a replacement for a historic bridge in a historic district is made without reference to known examples, design and constructibility issues, or cost. Clearly the focus will be on concrete beam bridges, looking at color of both concrete and any metal beams, concrete texture, patterns of design on parapets and substructure, and interior treatments. The purpose of this research is to query state DOT’s to find successful examples and to extract any trends in aesthetics, design issues, and/or cost. The goal is to develop a range of what can be done for a workhorse bridge in a rural historic setting and to provide successful examples.

Urgency and Payoff

Increasingly, SHPO’s and NPS are taking a landscape perspective on historic resources, leading to more and larger rural historic landscapes/districts. Within these districts are bridges that need replacement but are contributing to the historic district. The logical solution is to propose a context-sensitive design replacement; however, neither the SHPO and often the DOT knows just what that means. Having a catalog of successful ideas makes the consultation over resolution of adverse effects more predictable and allows all partners to better visualize the outcomes. When all partners know what is possible, then the consultation can move in a productive direction, saving time. Knowing costs associated with various concepts also can guide discussions and make the mitigation commensurate with the impacts.

Suggested By

Ira Beckerman PennDOT 717-772-0830

[email protected]