Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 4: Petition and Important Meeting

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Things have picked up quite a bit in the few days before Easter. So I will sum this up in a few words and write more later when the Easter celebrations are finished.  Between now and April 24th a petition in the English language is available for those who want to sign their names in support of the Bockau Arch Bridge. The link is below. We need as many signatures as possible. The deadline is 24th April. That is the day we meet with representatives from the State of Saxony to discuss the future of the bridge. We will meet at the bridge site. Details will come soon.

https://www.openpetition.de/widget/petition/save-the-bockau-arch-bridge-and-rechenhaus-restaurant-near-aue-saxony-germany

Until then Happy Easter and enjoy it with your friends and family! 😀 ❤

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Castles, Chains and Tubes (bridges at Conwy, Wales, UK)

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By Tilman2007/Dr. Volkmar Rudolf  via Wikimedia Commons

The next guest column keeps us in the UK but takes us to Wales and to this community of Conwy. Here, the author of The Beauty of Transport gives us a tour of three historic bridges built by two world-renowned bridge engineers. Details on the history of the two and their contributions to the city of Conwy with their rather unique bridges dating back to the 1800s can be found here. Enjoy! 🙂

The Beauty of Transport

The Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas, NV, USA) is quite possibly the most alarming place I have visited in my entire life. Thanks to a lifetime of choosing public transport over driving whenever possible, I have been to a good number of rather scary places (thank you very much, public transport). Public transport hubs are rarely situated in the most upscale of locales. However, those less-than-salubrious locations have become scary by accident, over the course of many years and via a series of complicated socio-demographic changes. The Strip, on the other hand, seems to have been created specifically to facilitate the worst aspects of human behaviour, as vast crowds sluice up and down its four-mile length, seeking the next opportunity for gambling, binge-drinking or voyeurism. Dead-eyed punters sit at casino slot machines, hands mechanically inserting dollar bills one after the other. The Strip’s 24-hour casinos give off a heady reek of sweat, adrenalin and stale cigarette smoke under the…

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Castles, Chains and Tubes (Bridges at Conwy, Wales, UK)

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By Tilman2007/Dr. Volkmar Rudolf  via Wikimedia Commons

The next guest column keeps us in the UK but takes us to Wales and to this community of Conwy. Here, the author of The Beauty of Transport gives us a tour of three historic bridges built by two world-renowned bridge engineers. Details on the history of the two and their contributions to the city of Conwy with their rather unique bridges dating back to the 1800s can be found here. Enjoy! 🙂

 

The Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas, NV, USA) is quite possibly the most alarming place I have visited in my entire life. Thanks to a lifetime of choosing public transport over driving whenever possible, I have been to a good number of rather scary places (thank you very much, public transport). Public transport hubs are rarely situated in the most upscale of locales. However, those less-than-salubrious locations have become scary by accident, over the course of many years and via a series of complicated socio-demographic changes. The Strip, on the other hand, seems to have been created specifically to facilitate the worst aspects of human behaviour, as vast crowds sluice up and down its four-mile length, seeking the next opportunity for gambling, binge-drinking or voyeurism. Dead-eyed punters sit at casino slot machines, hands mechanically inserting dollar bills one after the other. The Strip’s 24-hour casinos give off a heady reek of sweat, adrenalin and stale cigarette smoke under the endless day of artificial lights, while the industry behind the casino hotels seeks to part visitors from their dollars in the most grimly efficient manner conceivable.

But The Beauty of Transport isn’t here to judge the moral standards of visitors to the Strip, and anyway, as you’ll have gathered by now, I’ve been a visitor there myself.

The Beauty of Transport is here, however, to highlight one of the most heinous crimes recently committed against transport architecture, which can be found on the Strip.

But to put that particular brain-frazzler into context, I need to take you back to early nineteenth century Britain, and two pioneers of disreputable transport architecture. They are actually transport heroes for countless other reasons, and I demur to no-one in my admiration for them (they are in large part responsible for the industry I worked in for years, and still write about). Though Thomas Telford’s and Robert Stephenson’s bridges at Conwy in Wales are very beautiful, the truth is that they also demonstrate terrible artifice.

More on Telford, Stephenson and the Bridges of Conwy you can read here:

Castles, Chains and Tubes (bridges at Conwy, Wales, UK)

 

This Stride Into Our Solitude (Humber Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, UK) — The Beauty of Transport

This guest column looks at the Humber Bridge, located near Kingston upon Hull in England. Built in 1981, the bridge has a span of over 4626 feet long, surpassing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City by almost 400 feet. The 1964 bridge is still the longest suspension bridge in the United States. The Humber Bridge remained the longest suspension bridge in the world until the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan surpassed it in 1998. It still remains the longest in the UK and the European Union. Have a look at the preview of the article which features a story to it. The link will lead you to the full article in detail. Enjoy! 🙂

There aren’t so many bridges about which a poem has been composed by one of the country’s most famous poets. Yet such an accolade has been afforded to the Humber Bridge, one of Britain’ finest, if most overlooked, modern bridges. Bridge for the Living was written by Philip Larkin, himself a resident of nearby Hull […]

via This Stride Into Our Solitude (Humber Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, UK) — The Beauty of Transport

Bridge Beautification in Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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Hirschgraben Viaduct at the Castle Complex to be Completely Rebuilt; Former Mulde Crossing to become Rest Area for Bikes

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY)-  While driving (or even Walking) through Glauchau in western Saxony in Germany, one cannot avoid several construction barriers and even downed trees in several places within the community of 24,000, located between Zwickau and Chemnitz. As part of the plan to beautify the city, several Buildings sitting empty or abandoned are scheduled to be repurposed or torn down.  And that applies to a couple of the city’s key crossings. A former site of a historic Bridge is about to become a rest area and picnic area for cyclists whereas a historic Bridge near the Castle complex is about to be demolished and rebuilt to mimic the original Bridge from the 1700s. Details about the two Projects can be found here:

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Hirschgrund Bridge to be completely rebuilt as part of the Castle beautification project

Connecting the Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castles with the city park to the south, the 300+ year old Hirschgrund Viaduct is the oldest known bridge in Glauchau, let alone one of the longest and tallest of the city’s bridges. At approximately 75 meters long and 15 meters high, the bridge consists of five arches built mainly of brick and concrete, although it is unclear whether the concrete was added later or was part of the construction. The bridge has been neglected for over 40 decades and closed to all pedestrians for almost that long, thus causing it to decay rapidly, forming cracks in the concrete and exposing the red brick. Vines have been growing on the structure and some accounts in the social media have described the bridge as wobbling while walking over the deep ravine. All the vines, the wooden scaffolding to support one of the arches and other coverings are about to become a thing of the past, for the Glauchau City Council recently approved a 1.3 million Euro project to completely rebuild the viaduct. According to the Free Press, the entire structure is scheduled to be completely taken down, then using the materials from the old structure, will be completely rebuilt mimicking the 17th Century viaduct when it was opened to horse and buggy. The project is expected to last 1-2 years pending on any unforseen circumstances. The complete rebuild of the viaduct is part of the controversial project to beautify the Castle Complex- in particular the courtyard in front of the Fordere Castle on the east side. At the cost of 500,000, the courtyard is supposed to be converted to a multifunctional arena with shelter house, steel flower tubs, park benches, an aluminum pergola and electric outlet. The proposal has been met with hefty criticism because of the lack of taste and conformity with the castle’s surroundings. Even an article written by a local architect suggested alternatives to the proposal that is more appropriate and based on a total agreement by the parties involved (click here to read the article by Kathleen Scheurer).  Already, the trees at the courtyard have been removed giving the castle complex a bare-naked appearance:

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How the castle complex will look like, once the five-month project ends in October remains open.

 

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Meerane Bridge: new on the left and the old one on the right before its removal. Photo by Ulrich Schleife

Meerane (Upper Mulde) Bridge Abutment to become a Picnic/Rest Area

For over two decades since the construction of the current structure and the removal of the 1880s historic bridge, the remaining eastern abutment has sat in its place, covered with vegetation and garbage and looking like an eyesore. Come April, it will become an eyesore no more. At the cost of 10,000 Euros, the vegetation area will be removed and the eastern abutment will be repurposed as a picnic and rest area for pedestrians and cyclists. Included will be a bike stand, benches and garbage cans in and around the abutment near the pedestrian crossing at Meerane and Linden Streets. That portion of the project will take three weeks to complete, according to the Free Press. This is part of a bigger project which the shoreline of the Zwickau Mulde River will be cleaned up and converted into a park and trail setting, using land from abandoned buildings that either have been torn down or are scheduled to be removed in the near future. Already in the works is the plan to have a bike trail connecting the bridge with the Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge, located near the Wehrdigt Elementary School. In the long term, the Mulde Bike Trail will go through Glauchau along the river instead of along the Diversion Canal, a plus for those wanting to see the city’s historic bridges along the river. One can also see the bridges leading to the Castle Complex from that proposed stretch of trail.  As for the Meerane Bridge, the east abutment is the remains of the 1880s Town Lattice truss bridge built by local bridge builder Heinrich Carl Hedrich, who was responsible for the construction of a diversion canal around Glauchau, Germany’s first water main systems as well as several dams, mills and bridges in Glauchau and along the Mulde. The bridge was replaced on alignment in the 1990s and subsequently removed once the new structure opened.

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Abutments as remains of the old bridge

With the ongoing changes that are happening in and around Glauchau also comes the updates in the Bridge Tour Guide of Glauchau. Several photos have been added on the castle bridges as well as the Wave, plus some updates based on the current developments which will be followed closely in the Chronicles. To see the updates, click here, which will take you to the guide again. There, you will find more pictures and information so that you can better get to know the bridges in and around the city.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Minneapolis Bridge Company- Minneapolis, MN (USA)

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Granite Falls Suspension Bridge, spanning Minnesota River. Built in 1933

During a period between 1870 and 1940, the United States experienced an exponential growth in the number of not only iron and steel truss bridges, but also the number of bridge companies and steel mills. Originating from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York, companies were established in the 1870s but through consolidations and insider business training, the numbers expanded westward, reaching Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa by 1910.

With these expansions came the development of the schools of bridge builders. Consisting of family dynasties and strong ties among the builders, these bridge builders were established either as family businesses or businesses with closest ties- whose founders later established ventures out west as a way to compete with the giant monopolies, like the American Bridge Company. Many schools of bridge builders existed beginning in the 1880s, including ones in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Ohio, New England,

and this one in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Minneapolis School of Bridge Builders featured bridge builders having established companies in Minneapolis and points to the east. These bridge builders were either self taught, had ties with companies to the east or both, and had a close-knit network of family members and close partners who later established companies or contracted westwards in the Great Plains and western states. They included the Hewett Family (William, Seth, Arthur), Commodore P. Jones, Lawrence Johnson and Alexander Bayne. Jones and Bayne were responsible for the Minneapolis Bridge Company, which was the longest tenured bridge company in the Minneapolis School and one of the longest in the United States.

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Kilen Woods Bridge in Jackson County, MN  Built in 1913. Replaced in 2004.

Founded in 1887 by Commodore P. Jones, the Minneapolis Bridge Company has a unique history, some of which is still being debated by historians and scholars today. What is known is the fact that the bridge company operated under different ownerships as well as different names. According to the 1985 study on Minnesota’s bridges by Robert Frame, the company operated under Minneapolis Bridge Company from 1888 to 1898 and from 1913 to 1941, the Minneapolis Bridge and Iron Company from 1898-1910 and as the Minneapolis Bridge Construction Company 1941- ca. 1944.  Jones operated the company before he left in 1910 to join Seth Hewett (with whom he was partners in the bridge business some years earlier) and formed the Great Northern Bridge Company, which operated until 1922. It is unknown what happened to the company between the time span of 1910 and 1913, although some sources claim that the company was out of business by 1910 and was restarted in 1913. But more research is needed to determine whether this was the case. However, one of Jones’s disciples, Alexander Y. Bayne took over the company in 1913, and the Minneapolis Bridge Company resumed its bridge building business. Bayne was president of the company from 1913 to 1917, when his partner, Oliver Matteson took over the presidency and held it until 1926. Matteson had been an agent of the company up to 1917 as well as an agent for two other previous companies prior to the resurrection of the Minneapolis Bridge Company. Another bridge builder, Isak Helseth took over the operations in 1941 and presided over the company until it folded in 1950.  Assuming the bridge company was not closed down between 1910 and 1913, the Minneapolis Bridge Company relocated twice in its life span: first to the Met Life Building from its original location at the Lumber Exchange Building in 1913 and seven years later to 3100 NE 6th Street. The company was known to have constructed dozens of bridges during its existence. The 1985 study by Frame indicated that five were built by Jones and 27 by Bayne. However upon doing a count by the writer as part of a book project completed eight years ago,  31 bridges were constructed under Commodore Jones and dozens of others by Bayne.

Winona Bridge. Built in 1941

Several historic bridges remaining in the country were built by Minneapolis Bridge Company, almost all of which were under the operations by Bayne, even though he had another business in Canada. Examples of bridges built by the company that are still standing include the following:

Winona Bridge (Minnesota)

St. Mary Aqueduct (Montana)

Sorlie Memorial Bridge (North Dakota/ Minnesota)

Ortonville Arch Bridge (Minnesota)

Granite Falls Suspension Bridge (Minnesota)

Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter (Minnesota)

Ten Mile Road Bridge (Michigan)

Savanna-Sabula Bridge. Built in 1932. Demolished and replaced in 2018.

Bridges that no longer exist but were built by Minneapolis Bridge Company include the following:

Savanna-Sabula Bridge (Iowa/Illinois)

Kilen Woods Bridge (Minnesota)

Meadow Hill Drive Bridge (Wisconsin)

Walworth Bridge (South Dakota)

Rockdale Viaduct (Iowa)

 

Sources:

Frame, Robert III „A Report on Historic Bridges in Minnesota.“ St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Transportation, 1985

Gardner, Denis. “Wood + Concrete + Stone + Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008

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Gasconade Bridge Relisted for Sale: Any Takers?

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MoDOT has Route 66 Crossing  for sale after failed attempt to buy the bridge. Deadline is March 15, 2019. Bridge will be demolished if no one claims it.

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HAZELGREEN/ JEFFERSON CITY/ ST. LOUIS- One month after Workin Bridges withdrew from the Gasconade River Bridge project, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is looking for a new owner of the bridge that used to serve Route 66. Between now and March 15, 2019, you have an opportunity to claim this prized work- a four-span truss bridge featuring two Parker through trusses, a Pratt through truss and a Warren pony truss span, totaling 525 feet. According to the information on the MoDOT Bridge Marketing Page:

“The Gasconade River Bridge was constructed under State Highway Department project 14-38. The contract for the project was awarded on December 30, 1922 to the Riley & Bailey Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Route 14 was being developed as a diagonal highway connecting St. Louis and southwest Missouri. The highway, designated under the Centennial Road Law passed in 1921, was funded by State Road Bonds, and connected the county seats and major towns between St. Louis and Joplin. In 1926, Route 14 was designated U. S. Highway 66.”

In addition, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C for its significance in transportation and engineering, according to the website.

Parties interested in preserving the structure must have a commitment and a plan as to how to go forward with saving the bridge, as the structure has been closed to all traffic since December 2014 because of structural concerns. This includes restoring the bridge for reuse as a recreational crossing, even in its current place. Proposals are being accepted between now and 15 March, 2019 from one or more parties.  In a statement made by MoDOT:

“Due to liability issues and limited funds, we will have to remove the bridge unless an outside entity steps forward to take ownership of and maintain the bridge,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester. “We know that’s not what folks want to hear, but it’s the reality of the situation. We are hopeful some entity will step forward with a proposal to preserve the existing structure.”

This setback will not affect the plans for building a new bridge on new alignment adjacent to the existing structure. Bids for building the new bridge will be opened in April, and the project is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in May. Construction is set to start in July, and MoDOT is expecting to have traffic on the new bridge by the fall of 2019.

Anyone interested in taking ownership of the old bridge can contact Karen Daniels, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist, at 573-526-7346 or Karen.Daniels@modot.mo.gov.

Information available here: http://www.modot.org/freebridges/Gasconade_River.htm

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