The OES visited Orange Road Bridge on August 10, 2014. In 1898, the Toledo Bridge Company was hired to construct a 9-panel, pin-connected, Pratt through truss steel bridge over the Olentangy River on what is now Orange Road after the original wooden bridge (called Thomas Bridge) was destroyed in a flood. The cost to build the new 182.1-foot long bridge was $4,180. The deck was to be 16.1 feet wide and the vertical clearance was to be 15.5 feet. The largest span of the bridge is 180.1 feet. Delaware County Engineer John Taggart designed 24-foot sandstone abutments for the new bridge to combat future flooding issues. The bridge’s substructure and end panels were reinforced to handle the high abutments and were more typical of a railroad bridge rather than a vehicular bridge. Due to this foresight, the Orange Road Bridge was the only bridge on the Olentangy from about Waldo to Columbus to survive the Flood of 1913 unscathed.
Orange Road Bridge continued to serve the community after the flood. At some point asphalt was laid on top of the bridge’s original burr and white oak timbers. The bridge underwent a major rehabilitation in 1970. The entire structure was temporarily raised so the old bridge seats could be replaced by new concrete seats reinforced with steel. The bridge’s four vertical hips were reinforced with the addition of 32-foot rods during the rehab as well. In the 1980s, the east abutment was faced with concrete. A single vehicle accident damaged a southern portion of the guard rail in December 2000. The bridge was closed until January 2001 while repairs were made. The dented latticework was still apparent when we visited the site in 2014.
In 2002, the Orange Road Bridge was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. At the time, the bridge was identified as being one of only two Pratt through truss bridges built by the Toledo Bridge Company in Ohio. The other bridge, located in Hancock County, was closed to traffic and removed in 2006. As the population and traffic increased in the Delaware County area, it was quickly becoming apparent that the bridge would need another major renovation or bypassed all together. The weight limit of the bridge was decreased from 10 tons to 3 tons in 2005 due to deterioration of the structure. A renovation was scheduled for 2008, but that would not happen. Orange Road Bridge was permanently closed in August 2007 when inspections revealed serious problems with the structure. Orange Road was realigned to meet with Carriage Road at State Route 315 and a new bridge was built just north of the existing bridge. The new bridge opened in 2009 and a roundabout was installed at the Route 315 intersection in 2013.
For now, the elder Orange Road Bridge still stands crossing the Olentangy River, rated unsafe for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. While many people would like to see the bridge utilized for another purpose at its present location, the current plan is to move the bridge to cross Wildcat Run in Liberty Township Park. Township trustees passed a “best-efforts” commitment in 2013 to raise the funds necessary to deconstruct the bridge and move it to its new home. The total estimated cost to the township is nearly $650,000 over the next ten years for the relocation and bridge upkeep. Since this is a best efforts commitment, there are no guarantees. Hopefully this unique structure can be saved for future generations to enjoy instead of suffering the same fate as many of its brethren, total demolition.
Location Information: Abandoned
Orange Road Bridge is located southeast of the intersection of Orange Road and State Route 315; Delaware County.