Lilac Bridge in New Hampshire in Visier

Photos courtesy of Royce and Bobette Haley
Photos courtesy of Royce and Bobette Haley

HOOKSETT, NEW HAMPSHIRE- After the Boscawen, Milford and Sewall Falls Bridges, another bridge is being targeted by the State of New Hampshire. The Lilac Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River in the town of Hooksett, is one of a handful of examples of truss bridges built by local bridge builder John William Storrs, with this one having been built in 1909 using bridge parts manufactured by the American Bridge Company.  The bridge has a total length of 490 feet, consisting of 165-foot long riveted Pratt through truss spans, each featuring Town Lattice portals with curved heels and How Lattice struts.  The bridge served Main street, going alongside the railroad tracks until it was bypassed in 1976 and left in place.

The city council and the state has been in talks about the future of the bridge because of its current state. The bottom decking is failing and there is a lot of rust, yet the truss bridge superstructure appears to be in great shape. Still, the city has elected not to spend the necessary $35 million for restoring the bridge and instead will spend half of the sum for a complete bridge replacement. According to the proposal, the truss bridges will be gone in favor of a mail-order truss bridge, whose design is yet to be determined. The historic bridge is for sale at a price of a dollar but only for a limited time.

Even if dismantled and stored before being restored and relocated, there is a better chance to save at least a portion of the bridge’s history than to have it scrapped, a traditional technique, which is being used like the Bible in New Hampshire, for over 70% of the pre-1930s truss bridges have been demolished and replaced in the past 10 years- an alarming and sobering statistic! And for the bridges that are products of Mr. Storrs, should the demolition machine process continue, his works will be a memory before anyone has a chance to know about him. Should that happen, then we know how our own American history will look like- instead of knowing about how America developed in terms of its infrastructure and social themes, we will eventually know about Ronald McDonald and Coca-Cola- a concept even the writer of the book Jennifer Government had envisioned when the dystopian novel was released 13 years ago,  but is slowly becoming realized day by day.

Lilac 2Lilac 1

Thanks to Royce and Bobette Haley for allowing the author to use some pics for this article.

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