Newsflyer: 15 May 2013

Wagon Wheel Bridge in Boone. Photo taken in September 2010 when the bridge was closed to all traffic. Recently it was rehabilitated and reopened to pedestrians only.


So far this year, it has been Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde when it comes to historic bridges being preserved in comparison to those that are on the way to the scrap heap. For the latter in this Newsflyer, it has more to do with stupidity than with natural disasters and structural deficiencies that are justified in their replacement. Yet there are some bright stories with regards to bridges being rehabilitated and reopened. Here are some of the headlines:

Bascule Bridge in Michigan Damaged by Drunken Bridge Operator.

Spanning the Rouge River in Detroit, the Jefferson Avenue Bridge features a double-leaf bascule design, whose truss type is similar to the ones found in Chicago, like the Clark Street Bridge. Unfortunately, the future of this bridge, built in 1922 by a Chicago bridge builder is everything but certain for it sustained extensive damage to the bridge deck. More peculiar is the fact that the damage was caused by the bridge operator who closed the bascule bridge as a barge was about to cross underneath it. The operator was taken into custody on suspicion that he was operating while intoxicated. The bridge is now closed and is in an open position to allow for marine traffic to pass underneath it. It will remain closed until further notice while inspectors will look to see whether the bridge can be repaired or if replacement is necessary. More information on the bridge disaster can be found here, along with information on this bridge. This is the second bridge to fall victim to carelessness this past weekend, for another bridge located in Iowa is on its way to the dumpster after a tree landed on it. The Chronicles has an article that you can see here.


Photo taken by James Baughn










Quincy Memorial Bridge to be demolished and replaced?

“The bridge is more than 80 years old and has been on a priority list for replacement,” stated Roger Driskell, Deputy Director at the Illinois Department of Transportation.  It is ironic to say something about a bridge that has spanned the Mississippi River for over 80 years and appears to be in tip top shape, given its recent rehabilitation. But that is not enough for the Illinois DOT to proceed with plans to demolish the 1930 Warren through truss bridge built by a company based in New York. So far, $1 billion has been put aside for the planning and it is expected that an additional $3 billion will be needed to actually do the work, which is scheduled to begin in 2018. Since 1986 the bridge has served eastbound traffic of US Hwy. 24, while the Bayview Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge carries westbound traffic. However, a long fight to save the Quincy Memorial Bridge is in the making, for the historic bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means before construction begins on the bridge, Section 106 will be required, meaning alternatives to demolition will be brought onto the table and locals associated with the bridge will fight to ensure the bridge remains standing in use for another 80 years. The Chronicles will be keeping you informed on the latest in that story.


Worley Bridge Being Altered?

Located over the San Gabriel River west of Rockdale  in Milam County, Texas, this 1911 Pratt through truss bridge, eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed to traffic and was to be rehabilitated this summer. Yet, unlike some of the bridges that were rehabilitated using hot rivets, as was done with another county truss bridge the Sugarloaf Mountain Camelback Truss Bridge, Worley will be rehabilitated using field rivets and gusset plates. The difference can be seen in the pictures by clicking on the links above. How this will alter the truss bridge remains unclear, but it is expected that the project will take three years to complete, for the bridge will be taken apart, renovated in parts and built on new abutments to be reopened to traffic. More information and comments on the renovation plans can be found here.


The spans with the railroad viaduct in the background

Boone Bridge now open to pedestrians- part of Kate Shelley Tour on 12 August

There is some good news for another Iowa historic bridge that will be part of the tour during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August: The Wagon Wheel, the longest surviving pre-1920 vehicular truss bridge along the Des Moines River west of Boone is now open to pedestrians. Built in 1909 by the Iowa Bridge Company, the five-span through truss bridge, featuring one Pennsylvania, three tall Pratt and one smaller Pratt, sustained extensive damage during the 2008 Floods, as the east approach span was partially washed out.  Debate on the future of the bridge lingered on for the next two and a half years until a decision was made to convert the bridge into a pedestrian crossing.  Thanks to the opening of the bridge for pedestrian use, people can now walk across the bridge and see the Kate Shelley Viaducts again, without having to take several rather painful detours.

The Wagon Wheel and Kate Shelley Viaducts, together with the Madrid and Bass Creek Viaducts will be part of the 2-3 hour tour fn the bridges of Boone County and the life of Kate Shelley on the last day of the Historic Bridge Weekend, August 12, beginning at 10:00am. The venue will be the Boone County Historical Center in Boone (info on location here.) and after touring the exhibits devoted to Kate Shelley, a trip to the railroad and bridge remains at Moingona and the bridges will follow. If interested in participating in the Kate Shelley and Bridge Tours on 12 August, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles before 15 July, using the contact details provided here.

Waldo-Hancock Bridge Coming Down

Waldo Hancock Bridge in Maine. Photo courtesy of HABS-HAER














Now the answer to the question of how the Waldo-Hancock Suspension Bridge is being demolished:

The moment the question for the forum was posted a week and a half ago, one of the readers jumped to the conclusion and answered the following: “The Bridge is Being Dismantled Going in Reverse.”  Now what does that suppose to mean?

The suspension bridge is being dismantled going in reverse order of how it was built in 1932. This means that the decking would be dismantled first, being cut up into segments and lowered onto barges. Once the roadway is removed, the suspension cables would be the next ones to go, where the vertical suspenders that connect the main cables with the decking would be removed, with the main cables being cut up and lowered onto barges for removal to follow. Once they are gone, the steel bridge towers will be deconstructed the exact same way as it was built in 1932.

However, not all of the bridge will be gone. The flagpoles that existed on the towers will be donated to both Waldo and Hancock Counties. They were the first ones to be removed when the demolition work started in November 2012. Sections of the main suspension cables will also be donated to local historical societies that have a connection with the suspension bridge. This also includes having a display of the suspension cables at the Penobscot Bridge park and complex, located next to the bridge. And finally, the piers that held the suspension towers will be preserved as a marker indicating its existence. Markers and other informational panels will be provided at the site.

At the present time, in its seventh month of the demolition process, both the suspension bridge towers and the main cables that used to support the roadway are still standing. While the project is scheduled to be finished by the end of June of this year, it is likely that it will be pushed back due to weather-related issues. But nevertheless, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, the first suspension bridge built in Maine and the very first Penobscot River crossing ever built will be nothing more than a memory, with cut-up cables and former bridge piers serving as proof of its existence.

Links to the Bridge removal project: (includes updated photos of the bridge removal process.)