At some point in the 1970’s, the need arose to widen the underpass at Kennedy Blvd & Main St. This is a point of mystery and a fact of life for Manville folk, especially since the original bridge was just filled up with dirt, and is literally still there. You can see the new construction in the background of this photo or just off to the left of the current bridge when entering Manville from the south. The original underpass was really similar to the one on Kyle St. that goes into “Lost Valley”. I love that Lost Valley bridge, but it’s dangerous as all hell. Two cars cannot fit through it at once, it’s also built at a weird angle. You have to veer into the oncoming lane to see into it. I’m assuming a lot of the same problems existed with the old Main St. underpass. Take a look at this 1953 Historic Areal map… If you click on it, it will expand in a new window.
So, you can see compared to what we have now, this setup was not optimal. If you wanted to make a left onto Main, you couldn’t see through the bridge on your right to find out if there were any cars coming. Plus if you were leaving town, you were basically doing a u turn, merging, and going through a bridge all at the same time. The bridge was set up at an angle that was impossible to navigate safely, and with the growing population, it was becoming a real problem. So they totally reconstructed it. Take a look at this photo from 1979…
In this photo you can see that they actually took Main St. and kind of moved further away from Kennedy Blvd. to straighten it out. They also made the jug handle to get rid of people making left hand turns off of Main St. onto Kennedy. If you look closely at this photo you can see a black curve right where Kennedy starts to bend… that’s literally the old road, so you can see how dramatic the landscape changed. They sort of bent Kennedy out away from the tracks and extended it to meet up with Main St way before the bridge. All of these changes were made just a few years before I was born, so I do not remember the old set up, but my family tells me it was really dangerous. I’d love to hear some comments or horror stories on this bridge, as most of what I know is just hear say or speculation. Also, I noticed on the ’53 map that a pretty big building was removed when Main St. was moved over. Anyone know what it was? It would’ve been right in front of where the modern underpass now stands.
Larry thanks again for getting me these great photos!