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Layton Bridge

  • Year Built: 1899
  • Type: Multi-Design (thru girder, Pratt thru truss, deck girder)
  • Number of Spans: 17
  • Length: 911'
  • Width: 14'4"
  • Builder: Taylor & Romine (designer), Pencoyd Iron Works, Roberts, A. & P. Co.
  • Location: Perry Township, Fayette County
  • Carries: Layton Road (SR 4038) over Youghiogheny River and Great Allegheny Passage Trail
  • Preservation Assistance: Yes
  • BRKey: 17042

Sometimes engineering and nature come together and create a spectacular result. Such is the case for Layton bridge in Fayette County. Built as a railroad bridge in 1899, the bridge was converted to vehicular use and now carries Layton Road over the Youghiogheny River and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) bike trail. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this one-lane bridge is an engineering marvel worthy of admiration. To cross the bridge from the Layton side, one must travel over 14 metal deck girder spans before reaching two, pin-connected, Pratt thru trusses, and a metal thru girder span. The trusses are of an unusual design with the roadway running through the middle of the truss instead of along the bottom, giving it the appearance of both a deck truss and thru truss when viewed from the river or the GAP trail. However, this does not mark the end of this amazing crossing. Once across the bridge, the journey continues through a tunnel carved out of the hillside. This is the only known combination of metal truss bridge and tunnel in vehicular use in Pennsylvania.

PennDOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is advancing the Layton Bridge Project. While rehabilitation alternatives are being considered for this bridge, its future is uncertain. PennDOT has added the bridge to their marketing program to consider all options, including adaptive reuse, as part of the preliminary engineering process. 

Usually the marketing program tries to identify a new location for a historic bridge. In the case of Layton, the size of the bridge makes it difficult and costly to move, and more importantly, the tunnel and surrounding landscape add to the bridge's significance so PennDOT and the SHPO are seeking an individual or organization willing to take ownership of the bridge and preserve it in place as a pedestrian or light vehicular bridge. In past cases, non-profit organizations have been formed, or groups have partnered with an individual owner to create parks that center around the historic bridge or the bridge has been retained in situ to carry pedestrians or bicycle traffic to an established trail. Fortunately, recreational opportunities abound near Layton Bridge with the Youghiogheny Scenic Water Trail, the Great Allegheny Passage Trail and a commercial business providing boat and camping opportunities. This bridge could be used to help foster recreation, stewardship, and tourism, while bringing economic development to the communities located near the bridge. Preservation Assistance may be available towards the adaptive reuse of the bridge.   

If you or your organization is interested in saving this one-of-a-kind bridge, contact Tyra Guyton at or at (717) 346-0617 or David Anthony at or at (412) 429-4861.