Williams River Route 5 Bridge

Williams River Route 5 Bridge

Site: V06-66
Municipality: Rockingham, VT
Location: Route 5 over Williams River
Site Type: Bridge
Vt Survey No: 1314-21
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 706420. N: 4784000

National Register Nomination Information:


Located on U.S. Route 5, in the town of Rockingham, Windham County, Vermont, this steel Warren deck truss bridge with riveted construction was built in 1929 for vehicular traffic and stretches some 250 feet across the Williams River. Primarily surrounded by a residential and commercial area, it is located approximately two miles north of the junction of routes 103 and 5, and served as a primary north-south connector before the construction of Interstate 91, which parallels the bridge approximately 1/3 mile to the west.

The Rt. 5 Williams River Bridge is a representative example of one of the metal truss bridges constructed following Vermont's monumental 1927 flood. Through the use of standard design and economical construction techniques, the rapid replacement of Vermont's bridges was made possible. Relatively unaltered, the bridge retains its integrity in all respects.

The three-span two-lane bridge is 24' wide and rises 24' above the river below. The 137' long deck truss with individual truss depths of 15' is supported by two 56' approach spans at either end. The upper chord and end diagonals of the spans consist of a box girder with a latticed top and bottom. The lower chord is made up of paired channels with stay plates placed about 3' apart. The vertical and diagonals of the truss are made of rolled I-beams. Full-depth crossed angles form the sway bracing, crossed bracing at the angle tops and bottoms and the I-beam lattice girder form the bottom struts. The bridge incorporates a concrete slab floor and curb with railings atop rolled steel floor I-beams. The guard rail is made of angles and channels with a latticed upper railing supported by T section stanchions.

Each of the 56' x 24' approach spans is composed of two I-section plate-girders with angle stiffeners in the web and internal angle-section cross-bracing.The bridge is supported by two oblong, poured concrete piers which have a rusticated effect. The pier to the south is recessed in an embankment. The pier to the north at rivers edge was re-poured in 1971.


The Williams River Route 5 Bridge is being nominated to the National Register under the Multiple Property Submission for Metal Truss, Masonry, and Concrete Bridges in Vermont. The bridge is an excellent example of a deck truss bridge, The bridge retains its original function and siting, is relatively unaltered, and meets all the necessary registration requirements for the property type of metal truss bridges. It is significant for its contribution to bridge engineering and construction, as well as being one of only four Warren deck truss bridges built during the reconstruction period, two of which are already listed on the National Register; the Gilead Brook Bridge, Bethel, VT.(10/1/90) and the Ottauquechee River Bridge, Hartland, VT. (10/1/90). The nearly identical (excepting for the number and size of approach spans) RT 5 Williams River Bridge attests to the simplicity and standardization of Warren deck truss design. The structure retains its integrity in all respects.

Spanning some 250' across the Williams River, the RT. 5 Williams River Bridge in the town of Rockingham, Windham County, Vermont is an integral part of eastern Vermont's major route, U.S. Route 5. Built in 1929, this bridge is a representative example of one of the many metal truss bridges constructed following Vermont's devastating 1927 flood. The flood, in which no part of Vermont escaped serious damage, was a monumental event in Vermont's 20th century history. The bridge reconstruction program that followed marks a particularly remarkable period of bridge engineering and assembly and was largely responsible for putting Vermont at the forefront of bridge technology and design. Using standardization in construction and design the state of Vermont was able to replace some 1200 destroyed bridges, within a relatively short period of time. Deck trusses were favored for several reasons. First, they allowed an unobstructed roadway for greater overhead clearance. Additionally, due to the fact that Warren trusses extended well below the deck of the roadway, the expense of building tall piers and abutments was minimized. Deck truss designs such as this one, which require greater underneath clearance, were usually selected where the natural elevation of the roadway made it feasible.

The Warren deck truss with its simple and compact design of diagonal members, rolled I-beams, and on-site riveting assembly was extremely popular and tremendously versatile. The use of the Warren deck truss became standard in its application for the longest spans of 50'-400' built during the 1928-1930 reconstruction period and in fact, continues to be used by bridge engineers today.


Rockingham Historic Sites and Structures Survey. State of Vermont, Division for Historic Preservation, Montpelier, Vermont, 1984.

FORM PREPARED BY: Michael Praught, UVM Historic Preservation Program, Wheeler House, Burlington, VT 05405. Tel: 802-656-3180. Date: April 15, 1991.

DATE ENTERED: November 14, 1991.
(Source 127)