Chatham Bridge 147 - Chatham Church Road Bridge

After learning about the indefinite closure of the Chatham Church Road Bridge, I recently took a trip out to photograph it. 

The Chatham Church Road Bridge - known officially to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) as Chatham Bridge 147 - is an over 100-year-old, single-lane, Pratt-through truss that crosses the Rocky River.  Thanks to nearby residents, it has survived multiple attempts by the state to replace it.  Yet recently, a safety inspection has indefinitely closed the bridge, placing its future in doubt.

The bridge's story dates to March 1921. Chatham County Commissioners agreed to purchase a bridge manufactured by the Atlantic Bridge Company in Charlotte.  The bridge opened four months later, in July.  The Pratt through-truss bridge was pin-connected, meaning pins, and not bolts, were used to connect and secure sections of the bridge.  NCDOT's Historic Bridge Inventory notes that by the 1920s, this style (pin-connected truss) of bridge was already outdated and that the Atlantic Bridge Company was not known for innovation.

The 361-foot-long bridge first was rehabilitated in 1959.  Nearly 40 years later, the bridge was considered for replacement by NCDOT.  Residents successfully petitioned NCDOT to do minor repairs and not replace the bridge.  And again, in 2016, when NCDOT programmed a $2 million replacement project for the Rocky River crossing, residents, with the backing of Chatham County Commissioners, halted the replacement project.

Sadly, in May 2024, during a routine safety inspection, inspectors saw deterioration in the steel structure of the 120-foot Pratt-truss and closed the bridge indefinitely.  It is unsure what will happen next to the bridge.  Previous attempts have been made to add the bridge to the National Register of Historic Places.  My personal wish is that the bridge is preserved for pedestrian and bike use. 

All photos taken by post author - June 17, 2024

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