Bridgehunter’s Chronicles Newsflyer: 10 May 2012

Greensburg Pike Bridge to be demolished this year. Photo taken in August 2010


May and June are perhaps one of the busiest months when it comes to historic preservation and bridges in general. A lot of important events are coming up that will provide people with a chance to either visit the historic bridge as part of their travel itinerary or take part in some contests and conferences. Here are some examples of upcoming events for you to keep in mind:
Photo Contests Commemorating National Historic Landmarks in the United States:
Once a year the National Park Service hosts a photo contest for photographers and historians alike, who want to showcase their talent to others and encourage others to take pride in the national landmarks in the US. Between now and 13 June, contestants can take advantage of the opportunity to “spice up” their digital photos for the right picture and submit them via flickr to the National Park Service. Please limit your entries to 10 photos per person but ONE photo per National Landmark. There are over 2,500 National Landmarks in the US but additional rules can be found here.  I’ve already chosen my pics to enter and I hope others will take part or at least encourage others to show their talent and their pride towards American history and enter. Good luck!

Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference in Vermont:
For those interested in historic preservation per se, or would like to know more on how to bridge the gap between historic preservation policy and practice (successes and shortcoming), there is the 18th annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference scheduled to take place on 8 June at Memorial Hall in Wilmington. Located in southern Vermont, the town was one of many that was devastated by Hurricane Irene in August of last year, but residents have been resilient in their successful attempts of restoring the historic town. This conference will feature many presentations including the importance of Main Street and recycling buildings. Tying education and preservation together is another topic that will be brought to the attention of the public through a presentation by Kaitlin O’shea-Healy of Preservation in Pink in the presentation entitled How Historic Preservation Involves YOU.  Cost are $35 for non-residents of Wilmington and accommodations are plenty. More information can be found here.

Historic Bridges in Erfurt in the Limelight:
There are over 25 historic bridges that exist in the capital of Thuringia, located in central Germany. Hans-Joerg Vockrodt and Dietrich Baumbach are the main source of authority when it comes to the history of bridges, some of which date back to the 12th century and have been since producing their own works in the 1990s and their first book on Erfurt’s bridges in 1994. Their second piece on the history of Erfurt’s bridges was released last year and on 23 May at 7:00pm at the Stapp book store in Erfurt, they will be presenting this topic to those interested in knowing about this topic. The cost for participating is three Euros. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will be there live and an interview with the authors will be in the works for the posting on Erfurt’s historic bridges and the book itself. Stay tuned.
German:  Es gibt über 25 Brücken in Erfurt, die Landeshauptstadt Thüringens, die im Mitteldeutschland liegt. Die Autoren, Hans-Jörg Vockrodt und Dietrich Baumbach sind die Hauptquellen für die Geschichte Erfurts Brücken, welche davon seit dem 12. Jahrhundert existiert haben, und sie haben seit der 90er Jahren über dieses Thema geschrieben, unter Anderem das erste Buch, das 1994 erschienen ist. Das zweite Buch über dieses Thema wurde im letzten Jahr veröffentlicht  und am 23. Mai um 19:00, findet ein Vortrag darüber in der Buchhandlung Stapp in Erfurt statt für diejenigen, die sich für dieses Thema interessieren. Die Eintrittkosten beträgt drei Euros. Die Bridgehunter’s Chronicles ist Live dabei und ein Artikel sowie ein Interview mit den Autoren werden geplant. 
Golden Gate Bridge to be 75 years old:
It took over 3 years, losing 21 people in the process, to achieve this feat. For 75 years, it has withstood the heavy currents of the Golden Gate as well as the earthquakes that shook the region, especially counting the 1989 earthquake. It has become a symbol for the city of San Francisco and the state of California, was used in many films, like Star Trek and Superman, and has been widely recognized by many who visit the USA from outside. This May, the Golden Gate Bridge will turn 75 years old and during the weekend of 27 May, a celebration marking its birthday will take place on the bridge. Information on the events can be found here.
Unfortunately though, the celebrations will take place without any survivors of the bridge construction. Jack Balestreri and Edward Ashoff, the last two surviving men who contributed to the building of the Golden Gate Bridge died recently due to old age and illness. An obituary of the two can be read here. These two plus a handful of others received the key to San Francisco by mayor Dianne Feinstein at the 50th anniversary celebration in 1987, it was put on display at the memorial services for Balestreri.
On a somber note, there are some bridges in the news that deserve to be mentioned as they have been a target of attempts to preserve them, most of which were to no avail due to either lack of funding or lack of interest in saving them. Here are some examples of bridges that are coming out soon:
Hulton Bridge in Pittsburgh (USA):

Built in 1909, the bridge was named after Jonathan Hulton, one of the first settlers of the Oakmont village located along the Allegheny River northeast of Pittsburgh. The bridge is famous for its long span- a 500-foot Pennsylvania petit main span with Parker truss approach spans, all colored in lavender. Sadly because of the high amount of cars crossing the bridge on a daily basis- over 25,000 a day to be exact- the bridge is scheduled to be replaced soon. Construction will start in 2013 at the latest and is expected to last two years at a cost of over $80 million. The future of the truss bridge is questionable for attempts by the students of the Carnegie Mellon University to convert the bridge into a pedestrian crossing has been ongoing. The bridge is in really good shape after being rehabilitated and painted in 1991 and has some historic significance, yet PennDOT officials elected to have a 4-lane structure to replace the vintage truss span.  The question is where to construct the bridge as both sides of the bridge are privately owned. At the time of this posting, an engineering firm has been hired to find the right place to build the new span. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest there. For more information on how to contribute to saving the historic bridge, please contact Todd Wilson of, whose contact information can be found via article on the bridge here.


Greensburg Pike Bridge in Pittsburgh (USA):

Work is well underway to replace the Greensburg Pike Bridge in Turtle Creek near Pittsburgh. The seven-span through truss bridge built in 1925 and featuring 45° skews at the portal bracing will remain open through September of this year, while a new bridge is being built downstream from the structure, which afterwards, the roadway will be realigned and the truss spans will be removed. As the bridge spans at least seven tracks of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, attempts will be made to minimize disruptions as the truss bridge will be dismantled. The new bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by August 2013. More on the bridge replacement is here.

Railroad Underpass at Grevesmuehlen, Germany:

Located about 70 kilometers east of Luebeck in western Mecklenburg-Pommerania in northeastern Germany, the bridge carries a local street in the village of Grevesmuehlen spanning a two-track rail line. The bridge is a Bailey truss bridge, one of many that were built in the late 1940s to replace bridges either severely damaged or destroyed in World War II. Unfortunately, its days have been numbered as the structure has become obsolete and therefore will be replaced with a concrete bridge. Work started recently and the bridge is scheduled to be completed and open to traffic in August of this year. Rail line will not be disrupted but detours will be in place until the project is completed.

The Nussrain Bridge at Bensigheim, Germany:

Located about 80 kilometers south of Heilbronn on the Neckar Canal in Baden Wuerttemberg, the city of Bensigheim has not been too kind to its bridges, as a six-span double-barrel Whipple through truss bridge built in 1874 was replaced in 2006 with the majority of the structure being reduced to scrap metal (a small section was saved as a monument). Now it has problems maintaining its existing bridges. The Nussrain Bridge spanning the Neckar Canal between Bensigheim and Hessigheim is scheduled to be replaced, but in 2016. The reaction from the public has been anything but positive, as the structure, built sometime in the 1950s, is crumbling and it is considered obsolete for accommodating vehicular traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians. The reason for the delay is the bridge project is supposed to be tied together with improving the canal and the roadway that crosses the bridge and constructing the roundabout on the Bensigheim side of the bridge. Work is underway to push up the construction date.

Yet on a positive note, a couple of bridges are about to be rehabilitated as the demand for more stabile structures to accommodate pedestrians are needed. One of them is a covered bridge built 250 years ago located in Switzerland (near Zug).

Kleinodbruecke to be renovated:

Built 250 years ago, the covered bridge spans the Lorzel River between Baar and Menzingen in the Zug Canton and carries pedestrians and cyclists. The covered bridge is protected by Swiss law, but given the increasing amount of traffic, the covered bridge is about to receive a major facelift. New wood siding and approaches will be constructed to replace the ones that have corroded over the years, in addition to repairing some of the wooden truss parts that have dealt with weather extremities. The project has just started and will be completed in September. A substitute bridge is available for pedestrians to use during the time of the bridge work. More information on the bridge can be found here, and the construction project here.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a link to Switzerland’s covered bridges, which can be accessed here and in the links page in the lower window of the main page.