BB Comer Bridge in Alabama: Demolition Funding can be Repurposed for Rehabiliation

Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer

 

Spanning the Tennessee River at Scottsboro, Alabama, the BB Comer Bridge represents a classic example of a cantilever truss bridge that is traditionally a target of progress, especially in light of the Minneapolis Bridge disaster six and a half years ago. Yet a preservation group is fighting to save this 1930 structure, and the way things are going, they will have things their way in converting the bridge into a pedestrian crossing, especially as the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is providing them with support.

In a letter dated December 31, 2013, to Julie Bowers of Workin’ Bridges, acting on behalf of Comer Bridge Foundation (CBF), Division Engineer Johnny L. Harris of the ALDOT provided a list of criteria defining the next steps required to change the intent of ALDOT’s contract with HRI Bridge Construction from demolition to repurposing. These criteria are based on ownership, construction and restoration practices, permitting, inspections, and a maintenance plan. Harris noted that the demolition funds CAN be used to preserve and repurpose the bridge IF all criteria are met and approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

CBF is arranging working sessions with local, regional and state officials the week of February 3, 2014.

“We are delighted that ALDOT took our request seriously,” said Bowers. “Workin’ Bridges was confident from the beginning of our relationship with CBF that this bridge can be saved. We have started the visioning process with a concept plan and elevation for the area. These are preliminary plans, and we welcome the public’s input.”

Comer Bridge, completed in 1930, is the last of the 15 memorial toll bridges enacted by legislation in 1927 that were built by the Kansas City Bridge Company but contracted through the Alabama State Bridge Corporation. Recently selected for the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, the historic bridge will now be submitted for national recognition by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Wiley Bridge in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken by Nathan Holth. Winner of the Best Photo Award. Most likely candidate for the crossing of the slue on the Scottsboro side of the BB Comer Bridge.

Plans to repurpose and preserve the historic B.B. Comer Bridge,  include adding a connection across the slue, which would allow visitors to park, hike and possibly dine on riverfront property adjoining the bridge. This also includes adding a connection across the slue that parallels the bridge on the Scottsboro side of the river. The Wiley Bridge in Pennsylvania, an 1883 truss bridge that is historic by state and national standards is being considered for that crossing. Located in Berks County, the bridge, which won the 2013 Ammann Awards for best photo (taken by Nathan Holth), is slated for removal and will be torn down if no one comes to claim it.

In response to a December 5 meeting with local and ALDOT officials, Bowers contacted Harris to initiate the plan of action he outlined during the meeting.

The CBF is calling on everyone for tax-deductible contributions in any amount, which may be donated online using the donor’s secure PayPal account or mailed to the following address:

Comer Bridge Foundation, PO Box 609, Scottsboro, AL 35768.

The CBF website features a page with a link to the umbrella nonprofit — The N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association — through which secure tax-deductible contributions are being made: http://comerbridge.org/donate-to-cbf.html. A link for CBF contributions is also available on the website ChamberForGood.com.

For more information about the CBF and efforts to save the bridge, visit the CBF website at www.comerbridge.org and consider liking CBF’s Friends of B.B. Comer Bridge at https://www.facebook.com/comerbridgefoundation.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the BB Comer Bridge as events start to unfold. You can like to follow if you want more information on preservation examples that are posted on a frequent basis.

Note: The Newsflyer is based on a press release provided by the Comer Bridge Foundation with elements of the Wiley Bridge coming from the previous article on the Ammann Award winners provided by the Chronicles. 

2013 Ammann Awards Results Part II

Wiley Bridge in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken by Nathan Holth. Winner of the Best Photo Award.

 

Wiley Bridge wins Best Photo Award, Cologne and Fayette County win Tour Guide Award, Coffeville Bridge Best Kept Secret for Individual Bridge.  

Run-off elections for spectacular disaster underway; winner announced Friday.  New changes underway for 2014 Ammann Awards.

A grey foggy morning in rural Pennsylvania. All is quiet on the homefront, except for a few clicks with the camera, all covered in dew, taken by a pontist crossing an old iron bridge that is cold, eeiry, walking into the bridge…. and into nowhere! This is probably the feeling Nathan Holth had as he photographed the Wiley Bridge in Berks County in northern Pennsylvania. The bridge had been closed for many years, awaiting its removal. Yet if it happens, it will most likely be relocated to Alabama instead of the dumpster. This photo won the Ammann Awards for Snapshot which will be more points for the preservationists. A sure way to bid farewell after 110 years and say hello to its new home.

And the results for the other photos:

Wiley Bridge  (Nathan Holth)                                             10

Navajo Bridge in Arizona (John Weeks III)                     7

Eads Bridge (F. Miser) and

Wheeling Suspension Bridge  (Randall Whitacre)        6

and Riverdale Bridge in Indiana  (J. Parrish)

 

Best Kept Secret Award:

For this category, it was divided up into the Tour Guide Section, where we have a region or city with a cluster of historic bridges and Individual Bridge, awarded for finding a historic bridge.

Hollernzollern Bridge at Cologne. Cologne and the River Rhine Region in NRW won the Bridge Tour Guide Award for 2013. Photo taken in March 2010

Tour Guide Award:

Like the Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle(Saale), the Bridges along the Rhine River in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne, won the Tour Guide Award in both the international division, as well as All Around. The history of the bridges in this region go back over 100 years, despite the majority of them being severely damaged or destroyed in World War II as the Nazis detonated them in a desparate attempt to stop the march of American and British troops. This includes the Remagen Bridge, as well as the bridges in Dusseldorf, Duisburg and Cologne. Fortunately, some of the bridges damaged in the war were restored to their original form; others were rebuilt entirely from scratch. In any case, one can find bridges going as far back as 1877 along the river in this still heavily industrialized state, as mentioned in a WDR documentary last year. The NRW Bridges edged the bridges of Lübeck by three votes and Halle (Saale) and Quedlinburg by four votes in the international division.

Results:

Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia           11

Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein)                               8

Halle (Saale) and Quedlinburg                          7

Other results:   Magdeburg (6), Kiel (5), Baltic-North Sea Canal (5), Flensburg (3)               Note: All these candidates are from Germany

 

West Auburn Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2011

 

USA Division:

There are many regions, cities and counties in the USA whose historic bridges are plentiful. But there is no county that has used historic bridges as a showcase as Fayette County, Iowa, this year’s Tour Guide Award for the USA division. As many as four dozen pre-1945 bridges are known to exist in the county, half of them are metal trusses, like the West Auburn Bridge, an 1880 Whipple truss bridge built by Horace Horton that’s located west of Eldorado. There are also numerous concrete arch bridges located in and around West Union and in western parts of the county, including the Oelwein area. And lastly, Fayette County has the only Kingpost through truss bridge in the state of Iowa, and perhaps the oldest of its kind left in North America. Located over Quinn Creek in the northern part of the county, the 1880 structure has remained a tourist attraction, despite being bypassed by a series of culverts in the 1990s.

Quinn Creek Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken by James Baughn

Thanks to Bill Moellering’s efforts during his years as county engineer, the county has the highest number of historic bridges in northeastern Iowa and one of the highest in the state. And the county won the Tour Guide Award by edging the City of Des Moines by one vote.

Other results:

Fayette County, Iowa                                                9

Des Moines, Iowa                                                         8

Caroll County, Indiana and                                    7

FW Kent Park in Iowa City

Other votes:  Franklin Park in Syracuse, New York (5)

In the All Around, Fayette County finished second behind Cologne, Germany, falling short by two votes, but with one vote ahead of Lübeck, Germany and Des Moines.

All-Around:

1. Cologne/ North Rhine-Westphalia (11);  2. Fayette County, Iowa (9); T3. Lübeck (8), Des Moines (8)

Coffeville Bridge in Kansas. Winner of the Best Kept Secret Award for Individual Bridge Find. Photo taken by Robert Elder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Kept Secret for Best Historic Bridge Find

In the second subcategory under Best Kept Secret, we have the individual bridges, where only a handful of bridges have been entered. While it is very few for a first time, the number will most likely increase when introduced for 2014. Only three bridges fall into this category, whereby the Coffeville Bridge, a three-span Marsh arch bridge spanning the Verdigris River in Montgomery County, Kansas not only won out in this category, but won the entire category, when combined with the Tour Guide candidates, beating Cologne by one vote and Fayette County by three. Not bad for a bridge that is about to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Here is how the winners fared out.

Individual Bridge Find:

Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas   (submitted by Robert Elder)             12

Field Bridge in Cedar County, Iowa   (submitted by Dave King)                                 9

Kiwanis Park Bridge in Iowa City       (submitted by Luke Harden)                            3

 

Total Count for entire Category (including Tour Guide Candidates)

Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas                  12

The Bridges of Cologne and NRW                11

The Bridges of Fayette County, Iowa            9

Field Bridge in Cedar County, Iowa                9

The Bridges of Des Moines                              8

The Bridges of Lübeck, Germany                   8

 

Run-off elections for Spectacular Bridge Disasters

The last category, the Smith Awards for Spectacular Bridge Disasters, ended up in a tie for first place between the Newcastle Bridge Disaster and the I-5 Skagit River Bridge disaster, with the fire on the San Sabo Trestle Bridge disaster being a vote behind the two in second place. Since there is no such thing as a tie-for-first place finish, we will have our very first run-off election among the three candidates. Go to the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ facebook page, look at the three candidates and like the one that should deserve the award (ENTITLED CANDIDATE NUMBER AND THE TITLE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS). One like per voter please. The candidate with the most likes will win. Please like one of the three candidates by no later than Thursday at 12:00am Central Time (7:00am Berlin time on Friday). The winner will be announced on Friday in the Chronicles.

 

Fazit:

The use of social networks will be a prelude to the changes that will take place for the 2014 Ammann Awards. As there were some technical issues involving the ballot, which caused many to need more time to vote or even pass on the voting, the 2014 Awards will be using more of the social networks and other forms of 2.0 technology to ensure that there are more voters and the voting process is much easier and quicker. This includes the expanded use of facebook and linkedIn, as well as youtube, and other apps, like GoAnimate and other education apps. More information will come when voting takes place in December.  The format for the 2014 voting will remain the same: submission of bridge candidates will be taken in November, ending on December 1st. However, the voting process will indeed resemble the Bridge Bowl, as it will be extended through Christmas and New Year, ending on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany. The winners will be announced on January 7th, 2015. More information can also be found in the Ammann Awards page.

The Chronicles would like to thanks those who voted and apologize to those who had problems with the voting from the 2013 Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Ammann Awards Results Part I

Dodd Ford Bridge spanning the Blue Earth River near Amboy, Minnesota. One of many historic truss bridges profiled and considered historically significant by Bob Frame, winner of the 2013 Lifetime Legacy Awards. Photo taken by the author in September 2010

Robert (Bob) Frame III elected overwhelmingly for Lifetime Achievement; same result for Riverside Bridge (Ozark, Missouri) for Best Preservation Example. Halle (Saale) and Flensburg (Germany) numbers one and two respectively for Mystery Bridge.    

Run-off vote for Spectacular Bridge Vote underway. Results expected on Friday.

For this year’s Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, there is a first for everything. While 45-50 voters participated in this year’s voting (which included some casting their vote for one category only, and canceled out the voting scheme on the ballot) we had a pair of deadline extensions- one due to the Arctic Blast which kept people from voting due to blocked roads and power outages and another due to multiple ties for first place in four categories, and now a run-off election for one category.

But despite the complications, one of the unique themes of the election is how people in general (not just the pontists and bridge experts) weighed in their support for their candidates in droves, making the elections a nail-biter to the very end. It shows that people appreciate their bridges and the preservation efforts that accompany them. How exciting was the voting? Let’s have a look at the results for their respective categories.

Lifetime Achievement:

When I contacted him for the first time over seven years ago regarding inquiries about some bridges in Minnesota, my homestate, I got more than I bargained for when he provided me with an encyclopedia’s worth. But through his work, several historic bridges in Minnesota and other states have been preserved with more yet to come, including the Dodd Ford Bridge near Amboy in Blue Earth County.  Robert (Bob) Frame III capped off his successful 40+ year career by winning the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work- but by an overwhelming majority, outracing his distant competitors, Nels Raynor and Bill Moellering. An interview with him will follow later on in the year in the Chronicles, which I’ll find out more about his passion for historic bridges and how it bore fruit careerwise, as a senior historian at Mead & Hunt, a post he still holds at present.

Results:

Robert Frame III     18

Nels Raynor                 7             Raynor engineered successful preservation efforts in                                                                   Texas, Kansas and Iowa (among others) and is                                                                               spearheading efforts to save the Bunker Mill Brudge

Bill Moellering             5             36 years of success as county engineer and                                                                                     preservationist for Fayette County brought him an                                                                       award for the county in another category and better                                                                     chances of integrating the historic bridges into a tourist                                                               attraction.

Other participants:  Friends of the Aldrich Change Bridge (4) and James Stewart (2)

 

Bridge of the Year:

Bixby Creek Bridge along CA Hwy. 1 in Big Sur, California. Photo taken by Ian McWilliams, used with permission under the guidelines by wikipedia

Spanning the creek bearing the bridge’s name, this 1932 concrete deck arch structure is one of the tallest in the world, the most photographed by tourists because of its aesthetic nature and one of the most widely used bridge for American culture, as it was used in several Hollywood films, and it is even on a US Stamp. Now it earns another title, which is the 2013 Bridge of the Year Award, despite winning by a narrowest of margins. The bridge: The Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, in Monterrey County, California, located along the original US 101 (now called CA Hwy. 1), which has many bridges of this caliber between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. But not as popular as this bridge.

Results

Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur                 12

Hastings Arch Bridge in Minnesota      11      Spanning the Mississippi River, the                                                                                                 1951 steel through arch bridge (known                                                                                              as Big Blue) was built at the site of the                                                                                              Hastings Spiral Bridge. Now Big Red,                                                                                                the largest tied arch bridge in North                                                                                                America has taken over in hopes it can                                                                                            outlive Big Blue.

Wells Street Bridge in Chicago                7      This deck truss bascule bridge, built in                                                                                             1922 was the focus of a major                                                                                                             unprecedented habilitation project last                                                                                             year, as the trusses were replaced with                                                                                           duplicate ones keeping the historic                                                                                                   integrity in tact.

Other votes: Vizcaya Bridge in Spain (6), Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany (5), Petit Jean Bridge in Arkansas (4) and Prestressed Concrete Bridge near Cologne (Germany) (3)

 

Mystery Bridge:

Hafenbahn Bridge spanning the Saale River in Halle (Saale). Photo taken in August 2011

In its inaugural year, the category Mystery Bridge had not only a winner and a second place finisher in its own territory, but overall.  The Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has a unique design, a unique history in connection with politics, but an unknown history as to who constructed this structure in 1884, which has survived two World Wars and the Cold War era nearly unscathed. That bridge received 12 votes, four more than its second place finisher, the Angelbuger Bridge in Flensburg (located at the Danish border), the bridge whose abutment used to house a bike shop, a comic store and a used goods shop. It shares second place with the winner in the US category, the Chaska Swing Bridge, which also received 8 votes. Also known as the Dan Patch Swing Bridge, it is the last bridge of its kind along the Minnesota River, which used to be laden with these bridge types, as it served as a key waterway linking Minneapolis and Winnipeg via Ortonville, Fargo and Grand Forks. The bridge is seldomly used and there’s hope that it will one day be a bike trail bridge.

Results (USA):

Dan Patch Swing Bridge in Minnesota                                                   8

Dinkey Creek Wooden Parker Truss Bridge in California              7          

V-laced truss bridges in Iowa                                                                    5

 

Dan Patch Swing Bridge near Savage. Photo taken by John Marvig

International:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale), Germany                                  12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg, Germany               8

Schleswig Strasse Bridge in Flensburg, Germany                              1

 

All Around:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale)                                                          12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg and

Dan Patch Swing Bridge                                                                                 8

Dinkey Creek Bridge in California                                                             7

 

Best Preservation Example:

Photo taken in August 2011

It took three years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of hours of volunteer work and effort by thousands of people with direct ties to this 1909 Canton Bridge Company structure, plus a Historic Bridge Weekend event not to mention lots of politicking and clarification of the laws. But it all paid off as the Riverside Bridge, spanning Finley Creek in Ozark, Missouri, located east of Springfield, was rehabilitated and reopened to traffic in August 2013.  The group was informed yesterday that it has been awarded the Preservation Missouri Award for its work. The Ammann Award for Best Preservation Practice, awarded on the international scale has put the cherry on top of a cake that took so long to make, thanks to the people for their efforts, esp. as the bridge won by a smashing majority!

Best Preservation Practice:

Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri        19

North Bennington Bridge in Vermont       7            A set of Moseley Arch trusses                                                                                                           were found along the road-                                                                                                                 dismantled after service. It was                                                                                                         reassembled and now, it’s a bridge                                                                                                   again.

Big Four Railroad Bridge in Kentucky    6            45 years out of service, the City of                                                                                                    Louisville put the Ohio River                                                                                                              crossing back into service as a                                                                                                            pedestrian bridge.

Other votes:  Cremery Bridge in Kansas (6), Petit Jean Bridge (5), Wells Street Bridge in Chicago (5), The Bridges of Robertson County, Texas (5), Checkered House Bridge in Vermont (2), Moose Brook Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio (1) and Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, Washington (1)

 

More results of the Ammann Awards are found in Part II. To be continued……