2012 Ammann Awards- Smith picks his favorites

The incident on 26 January 2012 Photo courtesy of James Baughn
The Replacement Truss span at Eggners Ferry. Photo taken by James Baughn

The last of the Ammann Awards for this fourth Advent go to the author, who had the pleasure of picking out the bridges that deserve to be honored or dishonored in one way or another. As you can see in the pictures above, the Eggners Ferry Bridge received the Smith Award but for two reasons: one is for the dumbest way to destroy a historic bridge. On the evening of the 26th of January, a large cargo ship crashed and destroyed one of the main spans of this bridge which spans Kentucky Lake separating Trigg and Marshall Counties in Kentucky. The incident came under intense scrutiny for the captain was as careless as the one who ran the Costa Concordia aground 13 days earlier off the coast of Italy.  Of all the incidents that happened to historic bridges this year (including one that took a life in central Kentucky), the one at Eggners Ferry, even though no lives were taken, far outgunned the ones combined.  By the same token, the bridge also deserved the Award for best example of salvaging and restoring a historic bridge, by adding a truss span in the quickest time possible and opening the structure to traffic- a span of four months. The work done on the bridge showed that truss bridges are not obsolete and can be used for multiple purposes. The work is definitely on the same level as the Sutliff Bridge in Iowa. The easternmost Parker through truss span was washed away by flooding in 2008 and a replica of that span was built in its place, joining the two original spans and reconnecting Sutliff with all points to the west. It was reopened in October 2012.

Oblique overview of the Sutliff Bridge. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

Apart from the two bridges, here are the author’s pics for 2012 that should be considered for recognition:

Dumbest way to destroy a bridge on the international scale:

Railroad Bridge in Linz (Austria)
Located over the Danube River in the third largest city in Austria, this bridge wins the award not only for the decision to demolish the 1899 three-span structure but also for allowing it to deteriorate to a point where an engineer at the Technical University of Vienna condemned it after conducting a feasibility test, and all of the government officials as well as the Austrian Railway ÖBB jumping on the bandwagon. The bridge is protected by the Austrian Preservation Laws and is the only reason for delaying the demolition process. The bridge is set to close to all traffic by the end of this year with imminent demolition to follow, unless a solution to rehabilitate the structure is reached.


Biggest Bonehead Story:
Bowstring arch bridge in Nebraska City being considered non-historic.  
This story will surely force the National Park Service to rethink and reinforce the way historic bridges are reused and maintained. The Steinhart Park Bowstring Arch Bridge used to be the centerpiece for people to see, despite being modified for pedestrian use. Yet it did not stop SHPO’s Julie Dolberg from ruling the bridge to be non-historic, thus allowing the people of Nebraska City to proceed to demolish it in favor of a newer bridge to serve a bike trail that will slice through the park and the western part of town.

An article can be viewed here.

Worst Example of Restoring a Historic Bridge:

Bear Tavern Bridge over Jacob’s Creek in New Jersey

Built in 1884 by the King Bridge Company, the bridge was a center of controversy for 80 years until the county commissioners ordered the bridge to be dismantled in favor of a new bridge against the will of the local residents. The bridge is in storage awaiting relocation…. Could it be that it may take just as long to reerect it as it took to remove the bridge in favor of progress? To be continued.

An article can be seen here.

Best find of a historic bridge:

Long Shoals Bridge in Kansas- One of the nearly forgotten bridges because of its aesthetic value, this bridge will soon have a home on a bike trail in Fort Scott.

The Bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany- Consisting of 18 bridges with various types and with history dating back to 1650, the town is worth a day’s stop for pontists and tourists alike.

Click here for the article.

2 thoughts on “2012 Ammann Awards- Smith picks his favorites

    1. If you are referring to the bowstring arch bridge in Nebraska, that is the same question many pontists and even yours truly are asking ourselves. Apparently many preservationists feel that a bridge is only historic and can be considered for funding, let alone listing on the National Register of Historic Places if and only if it retains its original form, meaning it has to remain in place and it must not be altered. The problem with this bridge is that it appeared that it either was altered by halving its width and adding overhead support or it was originally a pedestrian bridge and given the strict guidelines in terms of obtaining funding and recognition, it was deemed ineligible. The guidelines that are imposed both on a state as well as national levels are arbitrary and many historic bridges have fallen victim to being considered non-historic because of a lack of substance (let alone time to find the substance) even though they have more historic value and appearance than those that are listed but are somewhat bland because of the use of standardized bridge designs that we see (still) today as we travel on back roads through rural America. The bowstring arch bridge in Nebraska definitely needs some rehabilitation in order for it to function as a bridge again, but to consider a bowstring arch bridge non-historic has the same analogy as Klingon blood being green instead of pink, or Vulcan being blue than green, if you’re speaking in Star Trek terms….. Hope this explanation helps. 🙂


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