Newsflyer: 31 May, 2013

Fifth Avenue Bridge in Des Moines (now closed until further notice). Photo taken in August 2011

One bridge was altered and restored to traffic. Another bridge’s future is in limbo after inspections reveal structural issues, and another bridge will be torn down if no one claims it by July. These are the top three headlines that the Chronicles has for its Newsflyer on the last day of May. This is in addition to what Mother Nature has been giving people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Already places along the Mississippi River are experiencing high water signaling another Grand Flood of enormous proportions similar to 1993. In Germany, and parts of Europe, heavy rains in the last two days, combined with more to come over the weekend may set the stage for flooding of biblical proportions- the first since 2002. And with that, many of the bridges will be in the way of floodwaters. But before tallying up bridges that may be in danger (let’s hope not), let’s have a look at these headlines:

Two Des Moines Bridges to be gone- Fifth Avenue Bridge the third one to go?

In the past six months, the City of Des Moines has seen a change in landscape as far as bridges are concerned. While the Red Bridge will be raised four feet to accomodate potential floodwaters, the CGW Railroad Bridge, located at the south end of the city center will be no more. According to sources closest to the Chronicles, the last of the original four spans of through trusses will be dismantled bit by bit, with the goal of wiping the bridge off the map by the end of July.  This will be the second historic bridge behind the Grand Avenue Arch Bridge spanning Walnut Creek to be demolished. The arch bridge is currently undergoing bridge replacement after the 1926 arch bridge was demolished in November.

It is possible that the three-span truss bridge, spanning the Raccoon River, carrying the name Fifth Avenue and Jackson Avenue, may be the next bridge to be demolished despite the fact that the structure was converted to a pedestrian crossing 15 years ago. The Pratt through truss bridge with Howe portal and strut bracings, built in 1898 by King Bridge Company and two Des Moines engineering firms was closed to all traffic in March of this years due to reports of structural issues involving rust and corrosion. Yet this bridge, which is well lit at night, is part of the city riverside development and is a top concern for many preservationists, who do not want to see the bridge gone. The future is in doubt as questions are being raised as to how to handle this problem, so that the bridge can be reopened to pedestrians. More to come in the Chronicles.

Photo taken by James Baughn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilton Springs Bridge to be torn down if no one claims it

Spanning the South Fork southeast of Marshall in Saline County, the 1899 Central Bridge Company structure featured a Pratt through truss span with A-frame portal bracing. It has been sitting abandoned for six years, but now, the county wants to relieve itself of the burden. People wanting the bridge have until July 1 to claim the bridge and relocate it for reuse. Should no one come to claim it, the once ornated structure will be torn down when the contract is let, which should be no later than 2015.  More information on the bridge and how it can be purchased can be found here as well as through James Baughn’s website.

Checkered House Bridge in Vermont widened and reopened:

Built in 1929 by the American Bridge Company, the Checkered House Bridge, which spans the Winooski River near Richmond is a Pennsylvania petit through truss bridge with a length of 350 feet long. Its despite its green color, its origin came from the Checkerboard House, located adjacent to the bridge and like the giant structure, is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The bridge was the focus of an enormous rehabilitation effort that was completed last weekend, as the bridge was widened by 10 feet, making the structure’s width be 30 feet long. This year-long task consisted of cutting the upper chord in half, moving one half over 10 feet, adding steel to support the widened structure, adding an additional X-frame portal bracing, putting a new decking on, and lastly, painting the bridge red in color. In addition, the road, US Hwy. 2 was also widened and realigned to help control the flow of traffic across the bridge. The bridge was reopened three days ago and Kaitlin O’shea has some pictures and highlights of the event, which can be seen here.  The project page will feature some information on the project. While a couple truss bridges have been widened in the past, including one in New Jersey and the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, this one is the only one of its kind in the US that was widened because of the magnitude of the structure.


 

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Loving ode to Bridge Poets: Reflections

Red Bridge spanning the Yellow River in Allamakee County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2011

After a brief break in light of the recent events occurring in the United States with a pair of bridge collapses, the next poem to be presented is one written by Norman F. Brydon, entitled Reflections.  Little was written about the author except for the fact that he spent most of his 78 years of life before dying in 1982. Brydon was most famous for his book, “The Pasaic River: Past, Present, Future,” which was written in 1974. He wrote about James Caldwell two years later, which you can view the script here. And lastly, he was one of the very first authors who wrote about New Jersey’s covered bridges in 1971, which has long since been out of print, but it deals with how these bridges were popular before the age of Industrialization.

Reflections, written in 1969,  talks about a bridge that has been crossed for many years but still carries a lot of memories of the people that crossed it, including those who were there to reflect on their lives and how they could have done something different, but in all reality, it was too late. The poem brought some memories back to the times I spent reflecting on my life on one of these bridges, like this one in Allamakee County, Iowa, which has been sitting there abandoned for years and is now owned by nature. There were times I would visit one of these bridges and sit there for hours, looking at the things that I did and finding ways to turn all the wrongs committed into right ones. But this was as a teenager growing up, but many of us still have a chance to reflect about themselves as they stare down at the mirror-reflection of the river from the old bridge, wondering, as adults, whether we made the right decisions or whether they can be changed before it’s too late.

Here’s the poem in its entirety:

Abandoned above the coursing stream

Whose currents race so heedless by

Between high banks where granite boulders gleam

Recalling the flowing years that fly

The quickly fading then, the urgent now

A moment briefly noted, long forgot

A corridor of memories that you endow

In muted shapes, where arching timbers rot

Half hidden and with shaded trusses blurred.

Footsteps muffled to my waiting ears

By dust laid deep on oaken planks now stirred

To echo thoughts long buried with the years.

Within your shadows sparked by errant beams

I walk again to find abandoned dreams.

Touring the Bridges along the Grand Canal Part II: The Bridges of the Baltic-North Sea Canal

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Underneath the Europabruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

After a stop in Kiel, Friedrichstadt and the Alter Eider Canal, our next stop on the tour of the canal area in northern and central Schleswig-Holstein is the bridges along the Grand Canal itself, known as the Baltic-North Sea Canal (in German: Nord-Ostsee Kanal.  To understand more about the canal, one has to look at the history of it, which is plentiful in color. We already know that the first canal followed the same path as the river Eider, swerving about like a snake through Knoop, Rathmannsdorf, Kluvensiek and Schinkeln, running parallel to the present day canal between Kiel and Rendsburg before taking a more northerly route in the direction of Friedrichstadt and Tönnern before emptying into the North Sea. As the decades wore on however, the boat traffic increased in size and volume and despite its unique construction, the canal locks, let alone the double-leaf bascule bridges built to cater to horse and buggy at that time, were no longer able to accommodate the marine traffic. Therefore beginning in 1887, engineers of the German Navy embarked on a plan to construct a newer and wider canal that would run straighter than the Alter Eider and on a shorter length than its predecessor so that in the end, the Grand Canal would flow southwesterly from Rendsburg, past Gruenental and Hochdonn, and emptying into the North Sea at Brunsbüttel, approximately 65 km south of Friedrichstadt. The length totalled 90 km, which is more than half the distance of the Eider Canal. While the canal was built as a means of providing a short naval route instead of going around Denmark, the Grand Canal today serves as a shortcut for the shipping and commerce.

Ten Bridges serve the Canal, including the Rendsburg High Bridge. Yet because of its historic and technical significance, a separate article accompanies this one as part of the series on the Bridges of the Grand Canal. The following profiles features bridges that you can see when travelling along the canal, going from Kiel to Brunsbüttel:

Olympia Bridge (left) and Prince Heinrich Bridge (right). Photo taken in May 2011


Prince Heinrich and Olympia Bridges: The twin bridges, with the identical shape and color are the first bridges to see when entering the Grand Canal from the Kiel side. They are located 700 meters from the first canal lock from the side of the Baltic Sea. Yet they have been together since 1996. Before that, there was a true landmark that was part of Kiel’s heritage. While the first bridge consisted of a combination of a pontoon and swing bridge, which opened to allow ships to pass, the 1912 truss and trestle bridge replaced the 17-year old temporary structure. It was one of the first architectural artwork designed by Friedrich Voss, the same person who built the Rendsburg High Bridge (which will be discussed in a separate article), and the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge (which you will find here). The 320 meter long bridge featured two deck trusses supported by steel trestles resembling a bow tie and a 110 meter long subdivided Warren through truss with riveted connections and a V-frame portal bracing (also subdivided).  A link with post cards of the bridge can be found here. While the bridge sustained substantial damage during World War II, it was repaired and served as a single lane bridge connecting Kiel and its suburb Holtenau until 1972, when an additional bridge was deemed necessary as part of the plan to convert the road into an expressway. The Olympia Bridge was 150 meters longer than Prince Heinrich, yet the decision on which bridge type to build remains to this day a controversial subject. While the majority of the residents favored an identical truss design, their plea fell on deaf ears as the Kiel city council voted for a steel deck girder bridge. For 19 years, the two bridges served traffic, with the Olympia Bridge serving traffic going to Holtenau; Prince Heinrich going to Kiel. Yet due to extreme corrosion on the truss bridge, the two communities voted unanimously in 1990 to replace the 1912 bridge with an identical deck girder bridge. Again  the decision was against the will of the majority who favored a cable-stayed bridge instead of the design chosen by then state representative Gerhard Stoltenberg. The truss bridge was demolished during the summer of 1992. During the dismantling process, the eastern approach span collapsed on its own in August, taking two cranes with. Fortunately no one was injured. As soon as the bridge was removed, the replacement span was built, taking 58 months complete. Reason: design and construction flaws combined with increasing costs resulted in delays in its construction and impatience among the Kiel city council. Yet when the new span was completed, the bridge resembled its sister span the Olympia Bridge. Since 1997, both bridges have been serving the expressway connecting Kiel and Holtenau with the replacement bridge serving the role once taken by Prince Heinrich. Yet for many in Kiel, the bridges serve as an eyesore for the decision to build a modern bridge was against their will for they wanted something that the city can be proud of and not something bland. The aesthetics of the bridge today are questionable even from the author’s point of view, but if there is a consolation, the bridges serve as a marker

Photo taken in May 2011

Levensau Bridge:

Located just 10 km west of the Olympia and Prince Heinrich Bridges, this bridge is unique because of its unique design. Made of steel, this bridge features a half-pony and half deck arch design. Built in 1894 by Hermann Muthesius, it used to feature a through truss design in a form of a Howe design. Its decking featured rail traffic between Kiel and Flensburg for the eastern half and vehicular traffic for the western half. A picture of the bridge can be found here. Yet, as mentioned in the bridge quiz a few weeks ago, the bridge became a safety hazard by the early 1950s, as collisions at the portal entry were the norm- in many cases with injuries involved. Henceforth, beginning in 1952 and lasting for two years, the through truss portion and the concrete portal entries were removed, the roadways were reallocated and separated with a barrier to ensure through traffic and better passage, additional steel supports were added to the deck arch sections, and the entire bridge was stripped down to resemble its present form today.  The stripped down version of the Levensau Bridge was reopened to traffic in 1954 and continued to be the lone link between Kiel and Levensau for another 20 years. An additional bridge was added to relieve the bridge of heavy masses of traffic in 1974.  The bridge still remains in use, yet its days will soon be numbered. Plans are in the making to demolish the bridge and replace it with a tied arch span as part of the plans to widen and deepen the Grand Canal. At present, no work has been done on the bridge because of issues with a rare species of bats residing in the deck arch portion of the bridge. Since they are protected by law, the Ministry of Environment would have to approve a plan to relocate the animals before work commences on this bridge. Once it starts, the project should last 1-2 years but the abutments of the 1894 bridge will remain as observation points.

Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

 

Rendsburg’s Highway Bridge and Tunnel:

About a third of the way down the canal we come to Rendsburg, a city of 30,000 that once prided itself on the cast iron industry, but is now simply a tourist trap. Rendsburg is a rather quiet community with friendly people who enjoy talking about its heritage and history. And the city should be proud of it, especially when it comes to its bridges. Several bascule bridges were erected over the Alt Eider Canal in and around Rendsburg, most of which were built by the cast iron company Carlshütte (for more information, please refer to Part I and the Kluvensiek Bridge). Yet as iron became a fad of the past thanks to the coming of steel, so was the canal itself as the Grand Canal replaced it and effectively made these bridges obsolete. Today another landmark overshadows the city, which we’ll talk about in the next article with the Rendsburg High Bridge, yet two other crossings existed over the Grand Canal: The City Tunnel and the Europe Bridge. The City Tunnel was built in 1961, replacing the steel swing bridge, built using a cantilever truss design. That bridge featured two spans, each with a turning wheel, that would turn outwards to allow ships to pass. Because of the traffic congestion along the main street going through Rendsburg which the bridge carried, combined with the rust and corrosion and the hindrance of marine traffic, that bridge was taken out of service in favor of two tunnels, each one carrying one-way traffic. Two additional tunnels for bikes and pedestrians were added in 1965. At the same time of the construction of the tunnel, plans were approved to construct an Autobahn-Bridge spanning the Grand Canal. The 1491 meter  long bridge (with a 221 meter main span) was christened the Europabrücke, as it not only connected Flensburg and Hamburg via A7, but it created the longest Autobahn in not only Germany (at 961 kilometers in length), but Europe, connecting Flensburg with Füssen in Bavaria, but Scandanavia (namely Kolding, Aalborg, Copenhagen and Stockholm) with the Alps region (and with it, Austria and Switzerland). The bridge has been serving traffic since its opening in 1972.

Oblique view of Grünental Bridge. Photo taken in 1987 by Rainer Butenschön, used with permission

Grünethal Bridge

Located near the town of Beldorf, this 1892 structure, featuring a half through and half arch bridge and serving a local road and railroad line. Little has been mentioned about this bridge except for the fact that it is most likely the second bridge built along the canal by Hermann Muthesius, the same person who built the Levensau Bridge near Kiel. Furthermore, it was one of two bridges in Schleswig-Holstein that carried both vehicular and rail traffic (the Heide- Neumuenster Line). The Lindaunis Schlei drawbridge is the other bridge.   The bridge served traffic for 92 years before severe rust and corrosion on the superstructure led to first a severe weight restriction, forbidding trucks from using the bridge, later the German Railways to cease train service across the bridge, and finally its eventual replacement with the present structure, a Warren through truss bridge with no vertical beams.  The arch bridge, deemed unsafe even for pedestrian use, was taken off its foundation using two massive cranes in 1988 and cut up and hauled away for scrap metal. Only the brick abutments, once used as portal entrance before its partial demolition in 1952, remain as observation decks. Unique is the fact that the state shield of Schleswig-Holstein, made of iron, can be seen while passing under the new bridge.

Portal view of the bridge with the new bridge in the background. Photo taken in 1987 by Rainer Butenschön, used with permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main span of Hochdonn Bridge. Photo taken by Rainer Butenschön. Used with permission

 

 

Hochdonn Bridge

Featuring Warren deck truss approaches supported by steel bowtie-like trestle towers and a Camelback Warren through truss main span over the canal, the 2218 meter long Hochdonn Viaduct cannot be missed while travelling along the Grand Canal. Built between 1913 and 1920, this bridge is possibly the third bridge built by Friedrich Voss, who had previously built the Prince Heinrich Bridge near Kiel in 1912 and the Rendsburg High Bridge , one year later. It replaced a swing bridge located west of Hochdonn, which was removed and replaced with a ferry today. Since its opening in 1920, the bridge has been serving rail traffic between Hamburg and the Island of Sylt, located at the German-Danish border.  The only work done on this bridge was between 2005 and 2008, when the deck truss trestle spans were rehabilitated and the 42 meter high main span was replaced with a replica of the original bridge. In historic standards, it would have compromised the bridge’s historical integrity, but given the circumstances, and the fact that the truss swapping was necessary because the original span sustained severe corrosion making the rehabilitation impossible, it was deemed necessary to carry out this work while keeping the bridge’s integrity in tact. It has worked, as the bridge is still considered historically significant on the state level. A link with detailed photos of the bridge can be found here.

Deck truss approach spans. Photo taken by Rainer Butenschön, used with permission

 

Hohenhorn Viaduct:

The last two bridges crossing the canal are not only the westernmost bridges, but they serve the main artery connecting Hamburg and the Island of Sylt, passing through the cities of Itzehoe, Husum and Heide. The Hohenhorn Viaduct, built in 1989, is the younger of the two bridges, and serves the Autobahn motorway 23, which connects Heide and Hamburg. It was built as a relief to the main highway 5, although stretches of them have been replaced by the motorway since then. It still serves traffic today. The 390 meter long bridge features a similar main-span steel cantilever bridge to that of the Europa Bridge, but it one of the shortest bridges along the canal.

Main-span of the Brunsbuttel Bridge. Photo taken by Nightflyer. Can be viewed here: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochbr%C3%BCcke_Brunsb%C3%BCttel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brunsbüttel Bridge

At 2831 meters long, the Brunsbüttel Bridge, the last bridge before approaching the North Sea, serves the Main Highway 5, which runs along the North Sea coast. Built in 1983, the bridge, which featured a Warren through truss main span and two deck girder approach spans, is not only the longest bridge over the Grand Canal, but it is also one of the longest bridges in Germany. Given the landscape where the bridge is located, the bridge can be easily seen from a distance of as far as 10 kilometers in both directions.

 

To sum up the tour of the Bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, the canal is rich in history, not only in its construction and how the towns profited from it, but also the bridges that either used to cross it or still cross it. There are many bridges in shapes and sized that a person can see. Yet there is one bridge that was left out of all this, which we will get to as we approach Part III: The Rendsburg High Bridge.

Author’s Note: To view the other articles on the bridges in the canal area, please refer to the following links that you can click on:

Bridges along the Grand Canal Part I: The Eider Canal between Kiel and Rendsburg

The Bridges of Friedrichstadt

The Bridges of Kiel

Short Guide to the bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal (in German)

Information on the Baltic-North Sea Canal

A Guide to Railroads in Schleswig-Holstein (including the Hochdonn, Grünental and Rendsburg Bridges (in German)

Also some details are available just by clicking on the words underlined. Some are in German but also some in English.

Special Thanks to Rainer Butenschön for the photos of the Hochdonn and Grünental Bridges and for allowing the author to use a couple of them for this article.

 

 

Newsflyer 27 May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Update on the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa,  (Modern) Bridge Collapse in Missouri

In light of the Washington Bridge Collapse last Monday, one would point their fingers on bridge types as a way of pushing for them to be erased from the highway system. Yet Saturday’s collapse of another bridge in Missouri, built only 30 years ago, raises questions about how bridges are built and maintained and what changes should be made in that department. That plus an update on the upcoming Historic Bridge Weekend are found in this Newsflyer:

Photo taken by James Baughn

Railroad Overpass Collapses after Train Derailment/ Collision

Rockville, MO. Built in 1988, this combination steel and concrete girder, spanning two railroads just outside the town of Rockville (30 miles west of the Mississippi River in Scott County) and carrying Missouri Route M would not have expected a bridge disaster to happen, like it did on Saturday.  The 25-year old structure, expected to last at least 50 years carrying main traffic, had its life span cut short during that afternoon, when two trains collided, causing a derailment, and resulting in the bridge being destroyed. 21 people were injured in the wreck.  This disaster is one of the worst in bridge engineering, ranking it up there with the train wreck in Entschede, Germany on 3 June, 1998, destroying a railroad overpass and killing as many as 101 passengers. While the ICE Train, which was travelling at 80 mph before it derailed and folded together like an accordion, the trains at Rockville were going half the speed when the mishap happened.  While investigators will be looking at the behavior of the trains before it happens, the bridge collapse will raise questions about how bridges are being built and many will find ways to build structures that are able to withstand the abuse caused by all forms of transportation, especially given the light of an earlier bridge disaster in Washington.

 

Portal view of the rebuilt span. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

HB Weekend Travel Itinerary available online; Registration form available upon request.

In the past week, work has been undertaken on the travel itinerary for this year’s Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, Des Moines and Boone County. Thanks to the app, Popplet, the itinerary is now available online for you to download. Please click onto the following links, zoom in and out and scroll down to see which bridges will be targeted for photo opportunities by many people expected to attend the 4-day event. The bridgehunting event will be a smorgasbord-style event, meaning even though there will be one or two primary tours to the most important bridges, pontists and bridge enthusiasts can elect to choose the bridges they want to see, while not missing out on the meetings and dinner/entertainment that will take place during that weekend.

Please note: The itinerary does NOT include the bridges of Linn and Marion Counties, for each party responsible for organizing the guided tour will have maps available for you in person. The Linn County tour will start on 10 August at 8:30am, whereas the Marion County tour will take place 11 August at 2:30pm. More information available here.

Itinerary Links:

Day 1

Day 2

Days 3 & 4

Author’s tip: While we will start on August 9 at Old Barn Resort in Preston, MN, the bridges that are highly recommended to visit during the weekend include:

The Bridges in Winneshiek and Fayette Counties, The Bridges of Lanesboro, MN, Motor Mill Bridge in Clayton Bridge, Elkader Arch Bridge, Bergfeld Pond Bridge in Dubuque, The Bridges of Jones, Linn and Johnson Counties (including the ones at F.W. Kent Park west of Iowa City), Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Ft. Madison Swing Bridge, The Des Moines River Bridges between Keokuk and Des Moines and of course the Kate Shelley and Wagon Wheel Bridges.

It may be possible that the last span of the CGW Railroad Bridge in Des Moines is still up when visiting it, but don’t hold your breath….

ALSO: Registration forms for the dinner and entertainment portion is available directly through the author. Please inquire by e-mail at either flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or JDSmith77@gmx.net and you will receive a form to fill out and return by no later than 15 July.  This is to determine how many people are expected at the venues. Payments will be collected at the event.

Bridge memorabilia is being sought for the silent auction taking place on 11 August at Bos Landen Golf Course in Pella. If you have bridge photos and items you want to part ways with, please bring them to the event or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles.

REMINDER: Bridge information, etc. is still being sought for the Bridge Book Project, the Truss Bridges of Iowa, which the author is working on. An Information Box will be made available for you to contribute to the project. You can also talk with the author of the book at the evening events or while on the bridgehunting tour.  Or just send it via e-mail, which will get there quickly and directly.

 

My two cents: diet time for truck(-er)s crossing bridges

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County. Photo taken in August 2011

It is unknown which is worse this past week: torrential rains and unseasonably cold weather in Germany and parts of Europe as well as the US, or the bickering that has blossomed in light of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge disaster, which has reached new levels this weekend.  Already many massive media giants have decided to go with the Culture of Fear trend and have started bashing bridge types and incremental repairs to the aging structures in favor of more giantic concrete structures that can handle traffic for 100 years. This was clearly demonstrated in an Associated Press blog posted in the US Bridges website, which you can see here.

The response has been overwhelming. Many pontists and engineers have balked at the article, claiming that bridges can be maintained and rehabilitated without having to waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars on a concrete slab bridge, whose lifespan is half of that of other bridge types, such as trusses, cantilever trusses, suspension, and even arches. Some have responded by saying that they should talk to the real bridge experts than the politicians who think they know about the design specifics and how a bridge should be built, but in all reality, they do not even have a degree in civil engineering to prove it.

From a columnists’ point of view, the problem lies clearly on the deregulation of the transportation industry, where since the Reagan years (and the mentality of deregulation), we have seen an enormous increase in the number of vehicles that are overweight, oversized, or both, combined with drivers who do not know the limits of driving with this excessiveness. In the last 25 years, many roads, bridges and tunnels have taken a severe beating because of this high volume of traffic that is on the highways.

The collapse of the bridge in Washington should serve as a wake-up call to all politicians to pass tougher federal measures to put limits on the amount of load a truck is required to carry and enforce strict fines and other penalties for drivers violating these regulations. Furthermore, trucking companies should be required to invest in GPS technology suitable for trucks only to ensure that truck drivers choose the routes and crossings most appropriate to them.  And finally, truckers should take extra training, putting them in practical situations to have them prepare for the unexpected. While this may take more money than what is being invested, in the long term, it will pay more dividends than going on a Salem Bridge Witch Trial, tearing down bridges that are still in good condition, just because the media says that thousands of bridges are at risk of “a freak accident.”

One can point fingers at stupidity or bridge design flaws as the reason for bridges like Skagit to fail, and the Washington transportation officials will scramble to put a pair of Bailey Trusses in place of the fallen truss span while planning a bridge with no vertical clearance issues. Yet in all reality, we should have learned our lesson from another bridge disaster, namely the Minneapolis Bridge disaster of 2007, which is in order to have an efficient infrastructure that carries us from point A to point B, we need to give a little for the safety of other travellers using it as well. This applies to roads, bridges, tunnels, and the drivers who use them. Henceforth, less is more. Less of a load means a more prolonged life span for a bridge. This is something that we (and especially truck drivers) should consider in the future.

 

Newsflyer 24 May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Major Truss Bridge Collapses in Washington, another Ohio River Truss Bridge Doomed, another Iowa Truss Bridge’s future in Limbo, Hope for Minnesota Bridge?

On the eve the upcoming SIA Conference in Minneapolis/ St. Paul this weekend, one would think that the tornado that wiped Moore, Oklahoma off the map (and with that, half of the Newcastle Bridge) would be the top theme to talk about, as people are cleaning up and questions remain on how to rebuild the infrastructure that is a twisted mess.

However, some other news has popped up in the past couple days have for some reason taken over the limelight, as some major historic bridges have been in the news- one of them in Washington state has rekindled the debate on the usage of truss bridges as means of crossing ravines from point A to point B.  Here is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ second Newsflyer in three days’ time:

 

Major Interstate Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington

Located between Mt. Vernon and Burlington over the Skagit River, the 1,120 foot long bridge featured a Warren through truss (with subdivided beams) with West Virginia portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The 1955 structure was supposed to be sound, as it carried Interstate 5, a major route running along the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. However, last night at 7:15pm local time, the northernmost span of the truss bridge collapsed while commuters were making their way home from work. Numerous cars were in the water, and there is no word on the official number of casualties as of present. The collapse has taken many people including transportation officials by surprise, as the most recent National Bridge Inventory Report gave this bridge a structural rating of 57.4, which is above average. The bridge was considered structurally obsolete but not deficient, meaning it was capable of carrying massive amounts of traffic. Yet this may have to be double-checked, as officials are trying to determine the cause of this tragedy. There is speculation that an oversized truck stuck in the portal entrance of the bridge may have caused the mishap. But evidence and eyewitnesses have to be found in order to prove this claim. I-5 has been rerouted to neighboring Riverside Drive, which runs through Mt. Vernon and Burlington, respectively, and will remain that way until further notice. The collapse will also rekindle the debate among engineers and preservationist alike of whether truss bridges are the right bridge type for roadways to begin with; this after many preservation successes, combined with the construction of bridge replicas, like at Sutliff and Motor Mill Bridges in Iowa, defying the critics of this type in response to another earlier disaster in Minneapolis in 2007. The Seattle PI has pictures and information on the Skagit River Disaster, which can be seen here.

 

Trestle Bridge in Texas Burns and Collapses

If the term “NO WAY!” is applicable to another bridge disaster, it would be this bridge. Spanning the Colorado River a mile north of US 190 and east of San Saba in central Texas, the 1910 bridge featured a 300 foot long wooden trestle and a through truss main span. While the bridge was still in use by trains to carry agricultural goods and oil products, the railroad company owning this bridge will have to either spend money on a new bridge or find alternatives, as fire broke out on the wooden trestle spans on Monday. In a spectacular video taken by fire and transportation officials, seen here, the entire burning structure collapsed like a domino. In the video, one person reacted to the collapse in three words: “There she goes!” Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire and destruction.

 

Cairo Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn

Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois to be Replaced

The Cairo Bridge, spanning the Ohio River carrying US Hwys. 51 and 60 between Cairo, IL and Wickliffe, KY, is one of the most popular structures along the Ohio River and one of the best examples of bridges designed by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski and Masters (with the help of the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company). In fact, the 1938 structure opened to traffic two years before the Austrian engineer’s death in Los Angeles. It is one of the key landmarks of the city of Cairo, especially because of its four tall towers that can be seen for 20 miles. Now, the City of Cairo will have to look at a new structure that will stand in its place. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already started the Environmental Impact Survey to determine the impact on the surroundings when the cantilever truss bridge is dismantled and replaced in favor of a new modernized structure, whose bridge type to be used is left open. This will result in the Section 106 Policy to kick in, even though transportation officials have ignored the alternatives thusfar, and the recent disaster in Washington will support the KYTC’s claim that the bridge’s days over the Ohio River will soon be numbered. Photos of the bridge can be found here, as with the history of Modjeski and Masters, which includes a biography of Modjeski himself, who also built the Quebec Bridge in 1919, still the longest cantilever truss bridge in the world.

Overview of the Cascade Bridge. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

To Replace or Not to Replace: The Cascade Bridge Story

One of the hair-raising stories we will be watching this year is the fate of the 1896 Baltimore deck truss bridge, spanning Cascade Ravine at Dankward Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa.  The City wants to demolish the bridge because it is a liability. Engineering surveys conducted by Shuck-Britson and Klingner and Associates recommended replacement as the most feasible alternative. Yet both surveys have been attacked because they were not sufficient. This includes the usage of photos only by Shuck-Britson instead of doing on-site research, which state and federal agencies consider not sufficient. The majority of the citizens in Burlington do not want the bridge replaced because of its historic significance combined with safety issues a new bridge would have. And now Iowa DOT is coordinating a public survey to determine who is in favor of replacing the bridge in comparison to who is on favor of remodeling the bridge for reuse. Here are the factors that are important to note:

a. The cost for total replacement ranges from $3.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson) to $6 million (according to Klingner). The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: between $2 million (according to Workin Bridges based in Grinnell) and $8.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson).

b. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the environmental and mitigation surveys need to be carried out before making a decision on the future of the bridge. In addition, it is part of the Great River Road, meaning it is one of the key tourist attractions along the Mississippi River.

c. The bridge, built by a local engineering firm based in Cedar Rapids with help of the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Company, was closed to traffic in 2008 due to structural concerns on the 464 foot long structure- namely deterioration of the concrete abutments and rust on the bridge joints.

d. Most importantly, the City Council is dependent on a referendum that would introduce a franchise fee, to help pay for the Cascade Bridge Project. Without the fee (which appears to be dead on arrival), the project would be one of the first to be on the chopping block because of lack of funding.

Nevertheless, the future of this rare structure remains in limbo and it is a matter of time before a decision will have to be made. One fact is certain, the bridge will be visited by many enthusiasts during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August. Perhaps this might bring this matter to one’s attention on a larger scale.  Please see the link with a copy of the article photographed by Julie Bowers upon request to read the details.

Overview of the bridge with a airline jet approaching the runway of the nearby Twin Cities International Airport. Photo taken in August 2011

Rehabilitate or Replace? The Cedar Avenue Bridge Story

Another piece of good news, pending on one looks at it, comes from the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, which is trying to rid itself of an important historic landmark, considered a liability in their eyes.  As part of the $1.5 billion plan to expand the Mall of America, the state tax committee on Wednesday granted $259 million to be granted to the City of Bloomington, which owns the venue. $9 million will go directly to the Cedar Avenue Bridge Project. Yet the city has to approve the plan before receiving the money. While the Chronicles has an article coming on this story, a brief summary: The bridge was built in 1920 and features five spans of riveted Parker through trusses, crossing Long Meadow Lake. Together with a swing bridge over the Minnesota River, it used to carry Minnesota Hwy. 77 until an arch bridge built east of the span was built in 1978. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1996 and has been fenced off since 2002.  Discussion has been brewing whether to restore the entire structure and reopen it to regular traffic, or tear it down and replace it with a new structure. As the bridge sits in the National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Regsiter of Historic Places, federal officials want the bridge restored. The majority of the City Council favor a brand new bridge. And like the Cascade Bridge, figures for replacing vs. restoring the bridge have been flying around, with no idea of which option or how the bridge will be restored.  Thanks to $9 million on funding available, discussion will be intense and the Chronicles will follow the story as it unfolds. In the meantime, have a look at the photos here to determine what to do with the bridge.

Newsflyer 21 May, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Tornado destroys large bridge in Oklahoma, Bridge lost to flooding in Indiana, Future of Kentucky Bridge in question

The month of May was supposed to bring flowers, warm weather and fun to families and friends, especially because of the fact that in many countries, like Germany, May has the most number of holidays, including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day (in German: Maennertag), Pentecost and the last holiday coming up on 1 June, Children’s Day. In the United States, many schools are either out or will be out soon because of summer vacation.

Yet this month has been unkind to many families, whose lives have been turned upside down because of weather-related disasters. One of those was the Pentecost weekend storms, which generated yesterday’s two-mile wide tornado that destroyed Moore, Oklahoma and devastated many neighborhoods in the outskirts of Oklahoma City. CNN has a page on the disaster with videos which you can view here.  And with the tornadoes and other natural disasters this month came many structures that have fallen prey to these storms, including a multiple-span truss bridge in Oklahoma, which collapsed in yesterday’s storm.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a short summary on the fallen bridges, plus a couple other historic bridges that survived unscathed but are facing another enemy, the wrecking ball- and in one case, against the will of residents who don’t want a new bridge there to begin with. Hence, today’s Newsflyer:

Newcastle Bridge collapses- gas pipeline leak noticeable

The 1923 Missouri Valley Bridge Company structure spanned the Canadian River, carrying US Hwy 62, SE of Oklahoma City. It was one of the longest bridges to span a river or ravine in the state, and when it was bypassed by an expressway bridge 30 years ago, the bridge received new life when a natural gas pipeline went across the structure. Unfortunately, like the suburb Moore, the bridge was directly in the path of yesterday’s tornado and two of the 10 Parker through truss spans were knocked off its foundations. Other spans received substantial damage, but even more alarming was the fact that the natural gas pipeline was severed when the spans went down. While clean-up is underway, plans will be in the making to determine the fate of the rest of the bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While parts of the structure may be saved, the danger is that the bridge may be damaged beyond repair and may have to be taken down. But that has to be determined through the Section 106 Process, which will be carried out once the clean-up begins.

Ancient Aquaduct in Indiana lost to flooding

The Illinois and Michigan Canal ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago on the Chicago River to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, on the Illinois River. It was finished in 1848 and it allowed boat transportation from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The canal enabled navigation across the Chicago Portage and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, opening before railroads were laid in the area. Its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900 and it ceased transportation operations in 1933.- James Baughn

The Nettle Creek Aqueduct was one of the structures that carried water along this canal from 1847 (when it was built) to the time it was converted to bike and pedestrian traffic in the 1980s. The stone arch bridge that carried a steel trough was rebuilt multiple times including the time it was converted to recreational use, and was one of the key features of Gebhard Woods State Park. Sadly though, flooding on 7 May undermined the east wall of the arch bridge, causing the structure to collapse. A series of photos courtesy of Steve Conro shows the bridge before and after the disaster. According to the information from locals, flood waters rose to the top of the bridge railing prior to the structure giving way. It is unknown when and how the aqueduct will be rebuilt.

 

 Kentucky Historic Bridge to be Replaced; Residents to Protest to the Courts

“The people that live there now won’t be there 100 years from now,” and,  “Whatever we do here, we are going to affect the future.”  Those are the comments made by Russell Poore County Magistrate of Logan County, Kentucky in a newspaper interview regarding the decision of the county officials to tear down a historic bridge. The Logan Mill Bridge, an iron Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Red River west of Adairville has been a target of controversy as the county has been pursuing the replacement of the bridge, whereas residents along a two mile stretch of road demanded that the bridge be left alone. As many as six families living near the bridge would like to see the crossing rehabilitated and open to pedestrians. But if the county has it their way, the bridge, considered a piece of scaffolding in their eyes will be replaced by a concrete structure at a cost of $1.36 million. Already the county has voted 4-3 in favor of using the funds for this project. Yet many residents, who felt that their opinion was not heard, will not give up the fight and will take the matter a step further to ensure they have it their way, claiming that the project would be a waste of money and that it would be another “Bridge to Nowhere.” Already the county has offered the bridge up for sale under the conditions that it will be relocated, yet residents near the bridge do not want increased traffic and would rather see the bridge remain for pedestrians only. More will follow on whether the residents will win the fight for the bridge.

 

Ohio Historic Bridge Relocation to start soon.

 Spanning the Olentangy River in Liberty Township in Delaware County, Ohio, this 1898 truss bridge, going by the name Orange Road, built by the Toledo Bridge Company had been closed since 2007 when a new bridge was built alongside it, and was sitting in its rightful place…. until now, that is. If enough funding is made, the bridge will be dismantled, moved to Liberty Twp. Park and reerected over Wildcat Run. The cost for the project including maintenance will be $657,000. Yet this does not include the cost for some rehabilitation work that is needed given its structurally stability that has been in question according to county inspections that were undertaken prior to its closure and has been brought up ever since.  While it is unclear when the relocation will start or how long the project will take to complete, the plan  has given Ohio a better light on historic bridge preservation, for it had been following Pennsylvania’s footsteps in eliminating as many historic bridges as funding permits it. While it had preserved many structures, there are still many more out there that is in need of attention, including one at Bellaire. More information on the Orange Road Bridge will follow.

 

Tama Bridge Celebration

It is rare for a bridge in the United States to have a celebration of its own, for such celebrations are common in Europe. Yet in this small Iowa town, located 45 miles west of Cedar Rapids, the celebration is the norm. This past weekend, the 34th annual Tama Bridge Festival took place, celebrating the 98-year old bridge, built in 1915 by Paul Kingsley as part of the Lincoln Highway. The festival featured a 5km run and a parade through downtown Tama, and lastly a midway at the bridge site. This year’s festival is special for it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway that connected New York with San Francisco. While the highway has been bypassed by many US and interstate highways, including US Hwy. 30 which bypasses the town, many reminants of the bridge still exist today, including this bridge, whose railings christen the name Lincoln Highway. The Tama Bridge will be one of the bridges on the HB Weekend tour that will be visited in August. It is a must-see for many bridge enthusiasts.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and sister column The Flensburg Files would like to send our heartfelt prayers and support to the people affected by the Moore and Oklahoma City Tornado that destroyed vast amounts of homes and livelihoods. Please make it known that you are not alone and we’ll be ready to build new bridges to help you start over, clean up so that you can rebuild your lives, and stand together so that we can be a stronger family, supporting, caring and loving each other. Here is are some links for you to help:

https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/kd21/woodwardoktornadodisasterrelief

https://www.ammado.com/community/139395

http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/usatoday/article/2344493