Oakmont loses historic icon via implosion amid protests.
PITTSBURGH/ OAKMONT- There are demolitions of historic buildings and bridges that are justified because of their derilect state and safety concerns. While options of rebuilding are viable, the removal of safety hazards with no options left are logical. Then there are demolitions of these historic structures that defy logic and break barriers of resistance of locals and agencies wanting to save them because of their potential reuse.
The bridge was imploded today, dropping all but one of the five pinned connected through truss spans into the Allegheny River. This happened just three months after the opening of its replacement span to the north. Workers wasted no time removing the decking and setting the bridge up for the planned implosion, ignoring last minute pleas to save the bridge.
The plan to replace and then remove the historic bridge was a quick and systematic process, where despite its unique design and construction history, both the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the State Historic Preservation Office agreed to declare this bridge non-historic.
Had the Hulton Bridge been declared eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Laws would have been enforced, forcing the state to look at options to keep the bridge intact once the new bridge opened. The 1544 foot (471 meter) long bridge featured four 260 foot long Parker trusses and one 508 foot long Pennsylvania petit through truss span with bedstead portal bracings resembling the letter X.
A similar design was found in the Donora-Webster Bridge, before the bridge was brought down in July of last year. Despite protests, PennDOT proceeded to initiate the project, even ignoring the proposals to save the bridge- and this despite its rehabilitation done in 2000, where bridge parts were fixed and the entire structure was painted lilac.
With the Hulton Bridge gone, only the C.L. Schmitt Bridge at New Kensington and the West Mifflin-Riverton Bridge are the two remaining multiple-span through truss bridges left spanning the Allegheny River outside Pittsburgh. Yet given PennDOT’s track record of systematically destroying historic bridges despite opposition to the plan, these two bridges may be gone soon as questionable reasons will be found to justify the decision to take the structures down.
There are two ways to stop them: Have local governments or a private party take over the structures and work to maintain them, or protest the draconian policies to tear down the bridges in front of the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. But that can be done if more people are actively involved in the efforts-
and have a will to learn more about the historic bridges and their role in the development of the transportation system in Pennsylvania and the US. Right now, the interest is more for football and Facebook. When they will take interest remains open.
Here are the clips of the demolition of the Hulton Bridge:
The Oakmont Historical Society, whose members are currently mourning the loss of their historical icon, produced a documentary of the Hulton Bridge, which includes tours across the bridge. Enjoy this 30+ minute documentary below:
In 1969, Niagara Falls was shut down to look at the effects of erosion on the falls as well as the development of rocks at the bottom of the falls, which were impeding the flow of the Niagra River. Yet if things go the way of the state parks department and the permits are granted, the American Falls portion of Niagra Falls could be shut down in three years for….
…..a bridge replacement!
Permits are being sought and contracts are being let to replace two bridges on Goat Island Road that span the Niagara River at American Falls. Each were built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration project initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and consisted of stone arch bridges.
The mainland to Goat Island span is the longest and is 460 feet long, whereas the Goat to Green Island span is 180 feet.
Both bridges have been deteriorating rapidly and according to Buffalo News, the cost for rehabilitating the two spans would total $37 million, which was considered not viable given the current structural state and the materials used for bridge construction. It is unknown what type of bridge will be used as a replacement to the two structures.
The plan is to divert all water flow from the American Falls end to the Horseshoe Falls end in Canada. Horseshoe Falls accounts for 85% of all water flow from the Niagara River as it connects Lake Ontario with Lake Erie.
According to the same news source, a cofferdam will be installed where the river divides itself into two branches encircling the island towards the falls. This will shut off the water flow completely. This even will be historic and most likely a twice in a lifetime event as construction of the two bridges may take at least two years to complete. The question is when to shut off the water flow without affecting tourism.
While the option of allowing for bridge work while the water is flowing is open, it was rejected for unknown reasons. In either case, the event, if and when it happens will be historic and a must-see in this generation….
…or should it be? What would happen if the water was diverted away and how it would affect the environmental surroundings? Is is necessary to have it shut down just for a couple bridges? What is your take on this?
The Chronicles will keep you informed on this update on the project. Stay tuned….
REMINDER: You have one more week to vote on your favorite bridges and pontists for the 2015 Ammann Awards. Click here to look at the candidates. Remember! There are two parts with the first part being the photos and second having the ballots. Deadline is 2 February and the results will be presented the same day. So hurry if you want to vote!
Unknown if and how the ferry can be repaired- damage substantial. UNESCO application threatened.
A few years ago, I pulled an April Fools joke on the members of the historic bridge community by writing about the Rendsburg High Bridge coming down because it was unsafe for all traffic and the need of the German Railways to build a new, modern and larger crossing.
After sustaining substantial damage to the ferry because of a collision with a ship this past Friday, the Office of Waterways and Shipping (German: Wasser- & Schiffahrtsamt- WSA) on Monday decided to dismantle the entire ferry at the earliest possible convenience.
Reason for that is because of the danger that the ferry could fall into the Baltic-North Sea Canal, hindering shipping traffic again.
It is unclear whether the ferry will be rebuilt in a similar manner as the 103-year old structure before the ship smashed into it, turning it into a pendulum and injuring two people. According to information from German public radio station NDR, the entire steel structure of the ferry was bent inwards from the impact, whereas the operating house sustained large amounts of damage, and two of the twelve cables snapped.
Repairs or even replacement could take a full year, which in the meantime, pedestrians and cyclists have to take a detour to a tunnel under the canal, which is 1.5 km east of the bridge. Drivers have to take a ferry, which is 2 km away or even the tunnel, which is heavily travelled.
The danger of this action is that the planned induction into the UNESCO World Heritage list will be threatened if no ferry is put back into place or altered to a point of no recognition. It was originally to be listed as an international site in 2017, but as of present, the future of the transport ferry is unknown.
The Rendsburg High Bridge is one of eight transporter bridges left in operation and is the only bridge in the world that features a transporter main span and a loop approach span. But one thing is certain, the mayor of Rendburg and the villages south of the canal have agreed that a crossing at the bridge is a necessity and not having the ferry in place for good will be a massive inconvenience to the area, and this goes beyond that UNESCO World Heritage factor.
The Chronicles and sister column The Flensburg Files will keep you updated on the latest.
The Flensburg Files and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles are currently having their voting with the Flensburg’s Top Five and the Othmar H. Ammann Awards. Click onto the names and you may proceed to vote. Deadline is 2 February, while at the same time, the winners will be announced. Good luck! 🙂
(Click on the links to learn more about the bridges)
LIFETIME LEGACY (2 Vote limit)
Amy Squitieri- In the 20+ years at Mead and Hunt in Madison, Wisconsin, Ms. Squitieri has consulted with people on and contributed a great deal towards preserving historic bridges in the US. Her biography is here.
Nathan Holth- Since launching HistoricBridges.org in 2004, Mr. Holth has expanded his coverage to focus on historic bridges in North America, advocating the need to preserve historic bridges and presenting examples of bridges that have been preserved. His website is available here.
James Barker- Mr. Barker is founder of his engineering company in Indiana, which since its inception in 1998, has restored 18 covered bridges, six metal truss bridges and five vintage concrete bridges, with many more projects to come. The website is here.
Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler- Pittsburgh has their set of celebrities, the two should belong to the list, thanks to their mapping and profiling of bridges in the city and elsewhere. They just recently published a book on Pittsburgh’s bridges and have a website, which you can click here to view.
Julie Bowers- Five years of restoring and relocating historic bridges with lots of success, one can view the homepage of Workin Bridges to see her profile, here.
The Foursome from Iowa DOT: Consisting of Judy McDonald, Randy Faber, Hank Zalatel and Matt Donovan, the historians have worked tirelessly to profile and make files available hundreds of historic bridges, while working on preserving hundreds of historic bridges throughout the state, providing support to historians and preservationists. The late James Hippen always commended them for their work, and with my encounter with them three occasions, including the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2013, I can see why they should be in the running for this award.
BEST EXAMPLE OF A PRESERVED HISTORIC BRIDGE (5-vote limit):
Finally, after a pair of significant delays due to events that have interrupted our lifestyles on both sides of the Big Atlantic, the time has come for the voting process for the 2015 Othmar H. Ammann Awards, powered by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and Poll Daddy.com. Unlike in previous voting, all the voting will be done directly through the Chronicles, which means more independence from external sources. 🙂 Also differently from last year is that the voting process will commence in two separate articles. This article will feature the category of Best Photo, where all photos will be presented and you will choose your top two votes. Article 2 will feature the rest of the categories in the form of ballots with descriptions being presented. Please follow all instructions given when voting. In case of questions, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles
You have until 2 February to vote. The votes will be tallied and the result presented the same day. The five-year anniversary version of the Ammann Awards, where the top two from each category in the years 2011-2016 will be selected and voted on next year. More details will come in November.
Here we go with the voting! 😀
BEST PHOTO (2 Votes limit)
Bentonsport Bridge in Iowa- Jason D. Smith
Thomson Bridge in Minnesota- John Weeks III
Hayden Bridge in Oregon- Julie Bowers
Nixon Bridge in Montana- Troy Carter- Bozeman Chronicle
Williams Bridge in Montana- Troy Carter Bozeman Chronicle
Hwy. 5 Bridge in Alabama- J. Carson Barrett
Firescald Bridge in Tennessee- J. Carson Barrett
Chapel Curry Bridge in Alabama- J. Carson Barrett
Savana-Sabula Bridge in Iowa-Illinois- Roger Deschner
AFTER LOOKING AT THE PHOTOS, PLEASE PROCEED TO PART II, WHICH IS HERE ->
Semi-truck with skidder brings down 1920s through truss bridge that used to serve three major highways, no one injured.
POTTER, ARKANSAS- Careless and ignorance seems to be the major theme involving historic bridges in the United States and elsewhere, as drivers of large heavy trucks have been illusive in ignoring the restrictions involving crossing a light weight bridge and have taken the chance, even if it meant paying the price for their ignorance.
After the Christmas Day disaster in Paoli, another bridge of similar type has fallen victim to an overwiszed and overweight truck in near Potter in western Arkansas. Police officials are investigating the reasons why the driver of a semi truck with a trailer loaded with a skidder, ignored the weight limit of the Two Mile Creek Bridge and tried crossing the bridge only to drop the 1920 structure into the water. The incident happened on Friday. According to officials, the Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings, Howe lattice strut bracings and riveted connections, had a weight limit of 6 tons, while the truck’s weight limit was four times the weight limit. The bridge used to carry three different state highways before the county took ownership. The crossing carried US Highways 71 and 59 as well as State Highway 375 before they were relocated on a new (and straighter) alignment. Prior to its collapse, it carried county highway 37. Its truss design, a riveted Pratt through truss was constructed using standardized truss designs to accomodate the load. Unfortunately, it is unknown who the bridge builder of the 100-foot long crossing was.
It was just unfortunate that the bridge could not accomodate a truckload that was four times its weight limit, as it was seen in the picture below. Considered a total loss, the crossing was the last of the through truss bridges in Polk County. Compounding it with the most recent flooding, the bridge is the second one in a month that became victim. A two-span pony truss bridge was severely damaged by flooding on Christmas Day and its fate is uncertain. As for the driver, charges are pending for wreckless driving and disobeying the weight limit sign. More information will follow.
REMINDER: Today is the last day to enter your photos, bridges, etc. for the 2015 Ammann Awards. Entries will be taken until 12:00am Central Standard Time. The Voting process will start the following day, which will be posted in the Chrinicles. Get your entries in before it’s too late!!!
Substantial Damage to the Ferry; Two people injured
RENDSBURG, GERMANY- A key crossing in Schleswig-Holstein spanning a key waterway between the Baltic and North Seas came to a standstill this morning, as a ship heading westward along the Baltic-North Sea Canal slammed into the transporter ferry of the Rendsburg High Bridge. The incident occurred at 6:39am Berlin time, where a large ship did not stop for the ferry in time, causing a collision. A video shown below sees how the ferry swung like a pendulum after the ship hit it and moved on.
Two people- the operator and a passenger were injured in the collision, the former was transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, according to SHZ News. The bridge and canal were both closed down to traffic and will remain closed until further notice. According to the Deutsche Bahn, the railroad line connecting Flensburg and Hamburg, which crosses the cantilever truss part of the bridge has been closed down until bridge inspectors can determine how the collision affected the bridge decking, how much damage was caused, and when the bridge can reopen. The line carries regional and international train services going through Flensburg to Denmark. The passengers heading north are asked to go through Kiel from Neumünster enroute to Flensburg, as well as in the opposite direction. Because the ferry was misaligned, construction crews, according to reports by Radio Schleswig-Holstein (RSH), will need to realign it before moving it to the north shore of the canal. The ferry has substantial damage to the housing and truss structure, as seen by the photos. It is unknown when the canal will be reopened and when the ferry will be operational again. The ferry was the key link between Rendsburg and the southern suburb of Alsdorf. A detour is being planned until the ferry can be fixed.
The Rendsburg High Bridge is the only bridge in the world that has a bridge span serving traffic that also carries a transporter ferry. The transporter is one of only eight left in the world that is functional. It is the second bridge behind the Hastings Spiral Bridge in Minnesota that has a loop approach span, which encircles much of Rendsburg’s neighborhood. Built by Friedrich Voss in 1913, the bridge is a national landmark and has received various awards on the national and international levels. A detailed article about the bridge can be found here along with videos of the bridge filmed by the author during his visit in 2011. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, along with sister column the Flensburg Files will keep you informed on the latest with the bridge.
To start off this new year, there are some good news as well as some bad news. First the bad news: The deadline for entries for the 2015 Ammann Awards has been pushed back again for the last time. This time the 10th of January at 12:00am Central Standard Time (January 11th at 7:00am Central European Time) is the absolute deadline for all entries, including that for Best Photo, Lifetime Achievement and other categories. Reason for the delay is the low number of entries, much of that has to do with the weather disaster of biblical proportions in the United States and Great Britain, which has kept many away from the cameras and forced many to fill sandbags. The the voting process will proceed as planned with the winners being announced at the end of this month.
The good news: The author has enough candidates and stories to justify announcing his choices for 2015- the first to be announced before the actual Ammann Awards presentations but one that should keep the interest in historic bridges running sky high, especially before the main course. In other words, the author is serving his appetizers right now to keep the readers and candidates hungry for more bridge stuff. 😉
So here is our first appetizer: The Biggest Bonehead Story
Truck Destroys Gospel Street Bridge in Paoli, Indiana- Ever since Christmas Day, this story has been the hottest topic in the media, even breaking records of the number of post clicks on the Chronicles. A 23-year-old woman, who claimed to be Amish, drives a 30-ton truck full of drinking water across the 1880 Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company structure that was only able to carry 6 tons. Naturally, the bridge gave in, yet the excuses the driver brought up became more and more incredulable: 1. I just received my driver’s license, 2. I couldn’t turn around or find an alternative so I took the chance, and 3. (Most outrageous): I didn’t know how many pounds equaled six tons.
Yet the question remains, which was more incredulable: The incident or the consequence of the incident: a mere $135 fine for crossing the light-weight bridge, destroying it in the process?
But this bridge collapse on the island of Sicily, which happened in January, was a scandal! The Scorciavacche Viaduct near Palermo was completed in December 2014, three months earlier than scheduled, only for it to collapse partially on January 5th, 10 days after its opening! While no one was hurt, the collapse sparked a political outcry as the multi-million Euro bridge was part of the 200 million Euro motorway project, and as a consequence, officials prompted an investigation into the cause of the bridge. The construction company, which claimed that the accident was caused by “substinence,” tried shooting down the accusations, claiming the accident was overexaggerated. Makes the reader wonder if they tried covering up a possible design flaw, combined with human error, which could have caused the collapse. If so, then they have the (now jailed) Captain of the capsized Costa Concordia to thank, for like the ship that has been towed away and scrapped, the bridge met the same fate. Lesson for the wise: More time means better results. Check your work before opening it to others.
Best Historic Bridge Find:
While the author stayed out of the US for all of 2015 and focused his interesting findings on European soil, other bridge colleagues have found some bridges that had been either considered gone or had never been heard of before. One of these colleagues from Minnesota happened to find one that is still standing! 🙂
Bridge L-1297 in Clearwater County, Minnesota-
According to records by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Schonemann Park Bridge, located south of Luverne in Rock County, is the only example of a Waddell kingpost truss bridge left standing in Minnesota. This 1912 bridge is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge L-1297, which spans the Clearwater River near Gronvich in Clearwater, is the OTHER Waddell kingpost pony truss bridge that is still standing. Its markings matches exactly that of its Schonemann counterpart. Although there is no concrete evidence of when it was built and by whom, Pete Wilson, who found it by chance and addressed it to the Chronicles, mentioned that it was likely that it was built between 1905 and 1910 by the Hewett family, which built the bridge at Luverne. In either case, it is alive, standing albeit as a private crossing, and should be considered for the National Register. Does anybody else agree? 🙂
It is rare to find a cluster of historic bridges that are seldomly mentioned in any history books or bridge inventory. During a bike tour through eastern Thuringia in March, I happened to find a treasure in the hills: A dozen historic bridges within a 10 km radius, half of which are in the city of 29,000 inhabitants, including the ornamental Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge located on the east end of town. Highly recommended the next time you pass through the area. These bridges will be profiled further in the coming year because of their aesthetic and historic value, which makes the town, resembling an East German bygone era, more attractive. Check them out! 🙂
Flooding and Fires dominated the headlines as Mother Nature was not to kind to the areas affected, thus they were flooded, destroying historic bridges in the path. If there was no flooding, there were dry spells prompting fires that burned down everything touched. While there were several examples of historic bridges destroyed by nature, the author has chosen two that standout the most, namely because they were filmed, plus two runners-up in the international category. Fortunately for the bridge chosen in the US category, there is somewhat of a happy ending.
While there was a three-way tie for spectacular natural disasters done to the historic bridges on the international front, this concrete arch bridge in Tadcaster in the UK stands out the most. The bridge collapsed on December 29th as floodwaters raged throughout much of the northern part of Great Britain. It was one of dozens of bridges that were either severely damaged or destroyed during the worst flooding on record. The saddest part was not the video on how the bridge fell apart bit by bit, but the bridge was over 300 years old. Demolition and replacement of the bridge is expected to commence at the earliest at the end of this year once the damages are assessed and the clean-up efforts are under way.
Coach takes a swim under a culvert in Brazil:
Two runners-up in this category also have to do with bridge washouts due to flooding. One of them is this culvert wash-out in Brazil. A video submitted to the French magazine LeMonde shows what can happen if engineers choose a culvert over a replacement bridge, as this coach sank into the raging creek, went through the culvert and swam away! :-O Fortunately all the passengers evacuated prior to the disaster, however, it serves as a warning to all who wish to cut cost by choosing a culvert over a new bridge- you better know what you are getting into, especially after watching the video below.
Massive Panic as Bridge is washed out in India-
The other runner-up takes us to the city of Chennai in India, where flash flooding wreaked havoc throughout the city. At this bridge, the pier of a concrete bridge gave way as a large wave cut up the crossing in seconds! Massive panic occurred, as seen in the video seen below:
Dumbest Reason to destroy a historic bridge:
The final category for this year’s Author’s Choice Award goes to the people whose irrational decision-making triggered the (planned) destruction of historic bridges. This year’s candidates features two familiar names that are on the chopping block unless measures on a private scale are undertaken to stop the wrecking ball. One of the bridges is an iconic landmark that is only 53 years old.
BB Comer Bridge in Alabama- Three years of efforts to raise awareness to a vintage cantilever bridge went up in smoke on November 14th, when county officials not only rejected the notion for a referendum on saving the BB Comer Bridge in Scotsboro, but also turned down any calls for the matter to be brought up for all time to come. While the organization promoting the preservation of the bridge claimed that the city and Jackson County would not need to pay for the maintenance of the bridge, officials were not sold on the idea of having the bridge become a theme park, which would have been a win-win situation as far as producing funds for the tourism industry is concerned. Instead, behind closed doors, the contract was signed off to convert the 1930 bridge into scrap metal, giving into the value of the commodity. Talk about short-sightedness and wrist slitting there!
Fehmarn Bridge to come down- In an effort to push through the Migratory Freeway through Fehmarn Island and down the throats of opposing residents, the German Railways condemned the world’s first basket weave tied arch bridge, built in 1963 to connect the island with the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The official reason was too much rust and any rehabilitation would prolong the bridge’s life by only 20 years- highly disputable among the preservationists and civil engineers given the number of concrete examples of rehabilitated bridges lasting 50+ years. Yet many locals believe that the German Railways is pushing for the bridge to be removed in favor of its own railroad crossing that would carry Fernzüge from Hamburg to Copenhagen, eliminating the ferry service between Puttgarten and Rodby in Denmark. The fight however is far from over as the campaign to save the island and its cherished architectural work is being taken to the national level, most likely going as far as Brussles if necessary. In addition, lack of funding and support on the Danish side is delaying the tunnel project, threatening the entire motorway-bridge-tunnel project to derail. If this happens, then the next step is what to do with the Fehmarn Bridge in terms of prolonging its life. The bridge is in the running for Bridge of the Year for the 2015 Ammann Awards for the second year in a row, after finishing a distant second last year.
AND NOW THE VOTING PROCESS AND RESULTS OF THE 2015 AMMANN AWARDS, WHICH WILL BEGIN STARTING JANUARY 11th, AS SOON AS THE DEADLINE FOR ALL ENTRIES PASSES. HURRY TO ENTER YOUR PHOTOS, BRIDGES, AND PERSONS DESERVING HONORS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!