Did You Know? The History and Collapse of this One Lane Bridge in Arizona
It's not often you find one-lane bridges out west, but there's still one spanning the San Pedro River on Hereford Road in Hereford, Arizona. The Hereford Bridge, as it's known, may be one of the last actively used one-lane bridges in our state.
Once an important part of the Arizona railroad, the historic bridge nearly lost its "one lane" status when someone pushed the bridge's structural limitations.
History of the Hereford Bridge
The Hereford Bridge was once maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and ADOT. It's currently considered a historical landmark.
According to Wikipedia.org, the Hereford Bridge was built in 1908 by the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Company as part of their line from Bisbee to Fairbank.
The Hereford Bridge is 180 feet long and 16 feet wide and spans the San Pedro River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southwest. The bridge's wooden deck and steel trusses were designed to carry trains that weighed up to 300 tons.
The bridge was used by the railroad, until it was abandoned in 1962. The railroad bridge was later converted into a traffic bridge for vehicles.
The quaint little bridge was almost lost in 2003. According to a report by the Bureau of Land Management, the historic Hereford Bridge was destroyed by an overweight concrete truck crossing the bridge in April 2003.
The driver didn't heed the weight limit of the bridge and when he tried to cross the bridge, it collapsed. It took nearly a month to demolish and remove the concrete truck.
The Decision to Rebuild the Hereford Bridge
There were many public and private discussions about rebuilding the Hereford Bridge after the collapse.
Many residents and government officials thought the single-lane bridge should be replaced by the more modern two-way traffic bridge, like the bridges on Highway 92 in Palominas or the smaller Charleston Road bridge on the way to Tombstone.
In the end, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors considered things like public safety, traffic speed, and the aesthetics of the area.
It was finally decided in March 2004, that the single-lane, steel-truss bridge should be rebuilt to replace the fallen structure.
The Hereford Bridge Today
The Hereford Bridge was fully rebuilt and it's still in use to this day. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Arizona Historic Bridge Inventory.
There are signs on both ends of the bridge that warn drivers to yield to oncoming traffic and to drive slowly. And of course, there's a sign advising heavy vehicles to seek other ways to cross the San Pedro River!