The McMillan Street Bridge, Cincinnati, Ohio

The McMillan Street Bridge, Cincinnati, Ohio

The McMillan Street Bridge, Cincinnati, Ohio

The McMillan Street Bridge was built in 1937 to replace a double barrel, single span wrought iron Whipple truss bridge that was constructed in 1899. The original bridge was narrow and built for light weight traffic such as horse and buggies which were still very common on the streets of Cincinnati. At that time only about 4,000 cars per year were being built in the United States and most of those easily weighed less than 1,000 pounds. By 1935 over 26 million cars were on the road and the average Ford was tipping the scales at 2600 pounds or about three times the weight of a car when the bridge was built. The Whipple truss bridge wasn’t built for those weight loads and the abutments were failing which meant that replacement was needed as soon as possible.

The replacement or current bridge is of steel rigid frame design. The main span is 117 feet long and 30 feet high. The side spans on either end are 50 feet long giving the bridge a total of 217 feet crossing over Reading Road below. It is reported to be the only pre-1961 steel rigid frame bridge in the state of Ohio. Total cost to build this bridge was $168,000.00.

During construction of the new bridge, traffic on McMillan Street was accommodated by a temporary steel and timber trestle built by the Cincinnati Street Railway Company.

The current bridge features eight concrete pylons with the date “1936” embossed on the end pylons although the bridge didn’t open until the summer of 1937. The pylons originally featured luminaries on the inside of each of the large pylons over the sidewalks on McMillan Street and one on the outer side of each of the small pylons over the steps leading down to Reading Road. The luminaries have since been removed.

Two very interesting aspects of the bridge is that one, the taller pylons in the center of the bridge still feature supports for the trolly car wire suspenders from the 1930s! Do to the popularity of private automobile ownership, the street cars were totally fazed out in Cincinnati by 1951. Secondly, the manhole covers near the sidewalk on Reading Road are actually access portals to the reinforced concrete inspection wells under the bridge.

The concrete deck was replaced in 1990 and the bridge is scheduled for some repair work in the near future including possibly removing the large center pylons. So if you want to capture pictures of the bridge with its original design, now is the time.

GPS Location: 39º07’36.2″N 84º30’06.6″W