Northampton Street Bridge

Northampton Street Bridge
Northampton Street Bridge
Official name Northampton Street Toll Supported Bridge
Other name(s) The Free Bridge
Easton-Phillipsburg Bridge
Carries 3 lanes of Northampton Street and 2 sidewalks
Crosses Delaware River
Locale Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ
Maintained by Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
Designer James Madison Porter III
Total length 560 feet (170 m)
Load limit 3 tons (2.72 tonnes)
Opened 1896
Preceded by Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge
Followed by Lehigh Valley Railroad Bridge
Replaces Ferry (1739-1806)
Covered bridge (1806-1896)

The Northampton Street Bridge is a bridge connecting Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ that crosses the Delaware River. It is maintained by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission despite not being a toll bridge. It is known locally as the "Free Bridge" thus distinguishing it from the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge just upstream to the north. The crossing was first a ferry crossing run by David Martin, beginning in 1739. The original wooden bridge opened on October 14, 1806. The original bridge was designed and built by Timothy Palmer, one of the most famous bridge builders of his time. Palmer's covered bridge at Easton endured many floods and storms while other bridges fell.

However, by the late nineteenth century, when horse-drawn streetcars were replaced by trolley cars, the old wooden bridge could no longer handle the demands of traffic and a new structure was erected in 1895. The new bridge was designed by James Madison Porter III, an alumnus of nearby Lafayette College and later a professor of civil engineering there. Porter hailed from a family long prominent in Easton and Pennsylvania history.

The Northampton Street Bridge sustained major damage during Hurricane Diane when floodwaters, 44 feet (13 m) above normal water level, topped the roadway of the bridge on August 19, 1955. Repairs carried out by Bethlehem Steel over the next two years made the bridge usable but the flood damage left a readily apparent sag in the center span that remains today.[1]

Another series of improvements were completed in the summer of 2002 and included structural steel repair and replacement, painting, and the replacement and installation of sidewalk decking and new pedestrian railings.

The bridge is currently posted for a three-ton weight limit and a fifteen mile per hour speed limit.

See also


  1. ^ Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-502, "Northampton Street Bridge"

External links

Coordinates: 40°41′29″N 75°12′14″W / 40.6915°N 75.2040°W / 40.6915; -75.2040

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