Waltz Road Bridge to be replaced; new bridge expected to be open by end of 2018

Bad news out of the States: A unique two-span Camelback pony truss bridge in Michigan is cming down this year. A unique one that will be mised by many in the region. More from the Huron Hub here……

The Huron Hub - New Boston News

The Waltz Road Bridge, pictured here, will be replaced and is estimated to be open by the end of 2018, according to Wayne County.

By Scott Bolthouse — Hub Editor — ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com

Wayne County announced Wednesday that the Waltz Road Bridge will undergo a full replacement which is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

The county closed the nearly 100-year-old bridge on June 1 after an inspection found the bridge bearings had deteriorated to the point that it was deemed unsafe to keep open.

Further inspection also revealed that the bridge deck and steel supports were also in need of repair.

The county said that it reviewed both repair and replacement options and decided replacement offers the longest life for the bridge while being the most cost effective.

The county estimates that replacement gives the bridge a 60-year life span at an estimated cost of $5.4 million.

Repairing…

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Eger Bridge Near Reichenbach to Be Rehabbed

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Stone arch Bridge from the 1800s to be remodeled and connected to the regional bike Trail.

REICHENBACH (VOGTLAND), SAXONY (GERMANY)-  Not far from the battleground crossing at Bockau (near Aue) is another historic bridge that one of the committee members recommended me to visit. Spanning the River Göltzsch, which is the same river that is crossed by the Göltzsch Viaduct near Greiz, the Eger Bridge is located in the village of Mühlwand, approximately three kilometers from Reichenbach and just as many kilometers away from the Motorway 72 Viaduct. This structure was built in 1769, replacing three previous spans that had been constructed in 1573, 1755 and 1758, respectively, all made of wood. The bridge is a two-span stone arch structure with a span of 20 meters; two arch spans have a lengths of 8 meters and 3.6 meters, whereas the width is 5.25 meters. It has been redundant because of the concrete span that was built alongside it in 1987 but had been left open for pedestrians to use until a pair of floods caused extansive damage to the arches in 2002 and 2013; the latter forced the closure of the bridge to everyone. Upon my visit to the bridge most recently, one can see the extent of the damage to the structure, where the concrete railings have fallen apart and the stones used for the arches are exposed. It is a surprise that the bridge did not collapse earlier like it happened in Great Britain during the infamous Christmas Day floods of 2015.

eger4
The replacement span on the left.

Even more of a surprise is the amount of support the locals have for saving the bridge. As recently as January of this year, members of the local town councils in Reichenbach and the surrounding areas, together with the Saxony Ministry of Business and Transportation voted in favor of renovating the bridge, at a cost of 1.5 Million Euros. This includes the cost for constructing the approach to the bridge, connecting the structure with a nearby bike trail approximately 200 meters away. The costs will be shared through a private-public partnership between the state, a private Entity L.I.S.T Inc., and the City of Reichenbach, who will take over ownership of the bridge once the project is completed. How the bridge will be renovated remains unclear, but it appears that the structure will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, as it has been seen with many arch bridges in eastern Germany- the Camsdorf Bridge in Jena, which was done in 2005, and the upcoming project with the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau. Private and public partnerships are becoming the norm for bridge Building in both Germany as well as the US, where public and private entities join together to share the costs for projects like this one. There are some advantages and disadvantages to the project, which will be saved for a separate article. However one can say the cost for renovating the bridge depends on not only the size of the structure, but to what extent does the bridge need to be fixed. In the case of the Eger Bridge, as the damage is extensive, the cost can be much higher than the cost for simply redoing the decking.

 

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Still, the renovation of the Eger Bridge is a blessing for the region, and especially for the Göltzsch Valley, for there are over three dozen stone arch bridges, big and small, spanning the river. This makes for a treat for bikers who are using the bike trail that runs parallel to the river and used to be a rail line connecting Greiz with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic.  For this bridge, there is a lot of history to learn about this, which thanks to this PPP initiative, will be preserved for vistors in Germany, Europe and Areas outside there.

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Some interesting Facts about the Eger Bridge include the following:

  1. The bridge used to serve an interregional road connecting Altenburg (Thuringia) with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic. It was a major trading route in the Vogtland region.
  2. The bridge was used many times by Napoleon’s Army during his conquest from 1806 to 1814- Napoleon himself crossed the bridge on 12 May, 1812 and again on 3 August, 1813.
  3. It was a major stop for the horse-and-buggy passenger and postal express during the first half of the 1800s. That route connected Dresden and Leipzig with Cheb and Nuremberg. It was equivalent to the Pony Express in the States (1861-65)
  4. It was located next to the Alaunawerk, which was a beer tavern beginning in 1703 but was converted into a restaurant afterwards. It burned to the ground in 1853, but the stone wall along the river next to the bridge remains.

Map:

 

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Eger Bridge near Reichenbach to be Rehabbed

31179408_1864012003629440_6849762608443031552_o

Stone arch Bridge from the 1800s to be remodeled and connected to the regional bike Trail.

REICHENBACH (VOGTLAND), SAXONY (GERMANY)-  Not far from the battleground crossing at Bockau (near Aue) is another historic bridge that one of the committee members recommended me to visit. Spanning the River Göltzsch, which is the same river that is crossed by the Göltzsch Viaduct near Greiz, the Eger Bridge is located in the village of Mühlwand, approximately three kilometers from Reichenbach and just as many kilometers away from the Motorway 72 Viaduct. This structure was built in 1769, replacing three previous spans that had been constructed in 1573, 1755 and 1758, respectively, all made of wood. The bridge is a two-span stone arch structure with a span of 20 meters; two arch spans have a lengths of 8 meters and 3.6 meters, whereas the width is 5.25 meters. It has been redundant because of the concrete span that was built alongside it in 1987 but had been left open for pedestrians to use until a pair of floods caused extansive damage to the arches in 2002 and 2013; the latter forced the closure of the bridge to everyone. Upon my visit to the bridge most recently, one can see the extent of the damage to the structure, where the concrete railings have fallen apart and the stones used for the arches are exposed. It is a surprise that the bridge did not collapse earlier like it happened in Great Britain during the infamous Christmas Day floods of 2015.

eger4
The replacement span on the left.

Even more of a surprise is the amount of support the locals have for saving the bridge. As recently as January of this year, members of the local town councils in Reichenbach and the surrounding areas, together with the Saxony Ministry of Business and Transportation voted in favor of renovating the bridge, at a cost of 1.5 Million Euros. This includes the cost for constructing the approach to the bridge, connecting the structure with a nearby bike trail approximately 200 meters away. The costs will be shared through a private-public partnership between the state, a private Entity L.I.S.T Inc., and the City of Reichenbach, who will take over ownership of the bridge once the project is completed. How the bridge will be renovated remains unclear, but it appears that the structure will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, as it has been seen with many arch bridges in eastern Germany- the Camsdorf Bridge in Jena, which was done in 2005, and the upcoming project with the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau. Private and public partnerships are becoming the norm for bridge Building in both Germany as well as the US, where public and private entities join together to share the costs for projects like this one. There are some advantages and disadvantages to the project, which will be saved for a separate article. However one can say the cost for renovating the bridge depends on not only the size of the structure, but to what extent does the bridge need to be fixed. In the case of the Eger Bridge, as the damage is extensive, the cost can be much higher than the cost for simply redoing the decking.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Still, the renovation of the Eger Bridge is a blessing for the region, and especially for the Göltzsch Valley, for there are over three dozen stone arch bridges, big and small, spanning the river. This makes for a treat for bikers who are using the bike trail that runs parallel to the river and used to be a rail line connecting Greiz with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic.  For this bridge, there is a lot of history to learn about this, which thanks to this PPP initiative, will be preserved for vistors in Germany, Europe and Areas outside there.

fast fact logo

Some interesting Facts about the Eger Bridge include the following:

  1. The bridge used to serve an interregional road connecting Altenburg (Thuringia) with Cheb (Eger) in the Czech Republic. It was a major trading route in the Vogtland region.
  2. The bridge was used many times by Napoleon’s Army during his conquest from 1806 to 1814- Napoleon himself crossed the bridge on 12 May, 1812 and again on 3 August, 1813.
  3. It was a major stop for the horse-and-buggy passenger and postal express during the first half of the 1800s. That route connected Dresden and Leipzig with Cheb and Nuremberg. It was equivalent to the Pony Express in the States (1861-65)
  4. It was located next to the Alaunawerk, which was a beer tavern beginning in 1703 but was converted into a restaurant afterwards. It burned to the ground in 1853, but the stone wall along the river next to the bridge remains.

Map:

 

bhc-logo-newest1

End of the Line for Area Voices

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The Flensburg Files and The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ AreaVoices websites to permanently shut down on May 15th, 2018. Their wordpress pages will remain open. Restructuring to commence immediately

Dear fellow readers, followers, fans, family  and friends,

For the past eight years, I have had the privilege to provide you with some stories, history, facts and cultural aspects for you to mull over and discuss, let alone share with others. I have also had an opportunity to meet many of you, both online as well as in person, learning new things and bettering myself and my two blogs. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and the Flensburg Files were launched almost simultaneously in October 2010. The Chronicles focused on historic bridges, providing people with a tour of regions laden with them and tips on how to preserve them for years to come. The Files focused on German-American culture and current events from the author’s perspective with a small pocket of stories originating from the northernmost region in Germany, where my heritage comes from and where I spent lots of time up there. It took the likes of Kari Lucin, Tracy Briggs-Jensen, Todd Wilson, Tony Dillon, James Baughn and others like you to get the blogs launched (although I do say they are online-columns because they are homemade and served with a little food for thought). Despite having websites on historic bridges, the Chronicles was the first blog to be introduced that solely focused on historic bridges. The Files was one of the first for German-American culture.  A lot of success has been raked up in the almost eight years in the blogging business.

Sadly though, I received word from the mother firm, Forum Communications, based in Fargo (USA) that the AreaVoices platform will shut down completely, effective 15th May 2018. And with that, the Files and the Chronicles will also cease as AreaVoices websites. The reason for their decision was the plan to create public-face media and a new CMS format, which means all the energies will be focused away from AV and onto the newer form of media. More information can be found here in their news story.  The shut down is as painful as the giant retailers BonTon and Toys R Us shuttering their doors and with that, all their subsidiaries, like Herberger’s, Younker’s and Carson’s.  However, not everything is as bad as it seems.

Both the Files and the Chronicles still have their woodpress websites, at least. They were launched in 2015 to expand to a wider audience outside the United States. They will continue to operate as is. The same applies to their facebook pages, twitter accounts, the Files’ tumblr website and the Chronicles’ Instagram page.  For those who are subscribed to the AreaVoices pages of one of the two or both, you should switch platforms immediately and subscribe to the sites that will remain in operation. The pages are below:

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FLBHAVSmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bridgehunters_chronicles17/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBridgehuntersChronicles/

 

The Flensburg Files: https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ffjds13

Tumblr: https://the-flensburg-files-smith.tumblr.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Flensburg-Files-421034214594622/

 

Yet what will happen next?  Because of the announcement of the shutdown, the first order of business is to save all the work that has been written since 2010- which is a good 800 or so- and transfer them all to the wordpress sites, as well as another blog platform. This ranges from bridge tours and Christmas markets to interviews and fast facts; genres to history, cultural themes to current events.  Some of the articles that are deemed redundant will be deleted. This work of sorting and transferring will probably take the longest and be the most intensive, but it is expected to be completed before 15 May.  Because of this, both wordpress sites will need to be restructured so that the categories are easier to see and the articles are accessible to all.

An additional blog platform for both will be sought after and established to provide better coverage. While AreaVoices provided some of the best platforms available, my intention is to look at all options, including newspapers that also allow for blogs to be open, as it was the case with the Forum newspapers with AV. While it may be possible to work together with Forum regarding the new program they are putting together, other newspapers, both in the States and abroad are being considered for a joint venture, including the Free Press in Chemnitz, with whom the Chronicles has work together on several bridge articles. Also the Flensborg Avis on the Danish end of Flensburg may be considered. Furthermore, a photo platform to replace the flickr page will be added to ensure that all photos taken will be posted there. The current flickr page, which I can no longer access because of an expired yahoo account will remain and accessed but as an archived website.

So the end of AreaVoices is also the beginning of a revolution that will usher in the newest generation of 3.0 technology with blogging. While AV is riding off into the sunset soon, the articles will be saved and stored accordingly, and newer technology will mean better coverage and new topics that will be published more quickly and discussed by many, be it bridges, German-American themes or other items.  I hope you understand the situation and that you still can continue to follow both blogs. Just please understand that after 15 May, AreaVoices will be a memory, but the two blogs will live on in a different form.  To the crew at Forum Communications and AreaVoices, I offer my thanks for the cooperation we had for the eight years we had together and in case we part, I wish you all the best and Godspeed.

 

Important!

Because of the reconstruction process, no new articles will be posted until the project is completed. This could take between two and six weeks to complete. For both wordpress sites, older articles from the AV sites will be added to ensure they are not lost. But they will be categorized so that you can access them. If you see articles from the past you will know why.  It will be business as usual for the other social network sites, meaning articles from external sources will continue to be posted, as well as photos taken by the author.

You will be notified once the project is finished with a new feature article of what has been done with the Files and Chronicles. In the meantime, please be patient. There’s a lot of work to do.

 

 

Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge- An American’s Perspective: Day One

I’ve updated the history of the Bockau Arch Bridge because of additional information I gathered by one of the historians researching the bridge who was at our meeting at the bridge yesterday. You will find that when you read up on the bridge itself.

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles

21273008_1619876831376293_1500923053373351983_oNur Heimat gibts nichts- There is never just a homeland.

This is a comment that I remember during my first meeting with the committee to save the Bockau Arch Bridge. Located over the Zwickauer Mulde River six kilometers southwest of Aue in western Saxony, this 146-year old stone arch bridge is one of a few historic landmarks left in the town of Bockau, with a population of 2,100 inhabitants. Closed since the end of August 2017, I had the dubious priviledge of having to make a detour of enternity in order to arrive at our first meeting. This meant going up the hill along Bockau Creek (which the over 800-year old town was named after), then making a pair of sharp curves going right onto a narrow street which leads me out of town, but not onto the bridge that has been blocked off completely. I had to drive…

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Bockau Arch Bridge: History Updated

Author’s Note: If there is some silver lining to yesterday’s meeting at the bridge, which turned out to be brutal for many reasons, it is the fact that some new facts came to light thanks to some research done by one of the locals who knows about the bridge’s history. I’ve decided to edit the article I published on Day One of my campaign to help save the structure over the Zwickau Mulde River. This is just a preview and to read the rest with the details, click on the link at the end of the paragraph. You will enjoy the facts both good and bad. Have fun! 🙂

 

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Nur Heimat gibts nichts- There is never just a homeland.

 

This is a comment that I remember during my first meeting with the committee to save the Bockau Arch Bridge. Located over the Zwickauer Mulde River six kilometers southwest of Aue in western Saxony, this 146-year old stone arch bridge is one of a few historic landmarks left in the town of Bockau, with a population of 2,100 inhabitants. Closed since the end of August 2017, I had the dubious priviledge of having to make a detour of enternity in order to arrive at our first meeting. This meant going up the hill along Bockau Creek (which the over 800-year old town was named after), then making a pair of sharp curves going right onto a narrow street which leads me out of town, but not onto the bridge that has been blocked off completely. I had to drive another 15 kilometers on a paved road full of sharp curves, potholes, cracks, ice, and wolves roaming about in the forest until I reached the Eibenstock Reservoir. There, I crossed the next bridge and backtracked on the main highway going on the opposite side of the river which led to the meeting place next to the closed bridge- The Rechenhaus Restaurant. There, I was greeted by the welcoming party, despite my 45-minute late arrival, with happiness and joy that an American was coming to help. 🙂

RHB5
The Rechenhaus Restaurant located on the north end of the bridge.

How did I end up here in the first place? And why do a documentary on an old stone arch bridge that no one really knows much about?

As the two pigs Piggeldy and Frederick would say “Nicht leichter als das.” (No easier than this):

 

Read the rest here. 🙂

Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 7: Don Quixote’s Windmills

April 24th, 2018. A beautiful day in the village of Bockau. A wonderful chance to photograph the Bockau Arch Bridge. But sadly this may be the last time doing it. While a total of 25 people gathered at the site of the Bockau Arch Bridge, the consensus is pointing towards the digger and wrecking ball to this almost 150-year old structure. Neither the mayor of Bockau, nor the one in Zschorlau want it left standing. A member of the Saxony Ministry of Construction and Transportation claims that the construction of the new bridge on new alignment and with that the demolition of the old bridge is a done deal. This is especially given because the new bridge was being constructed in a natural habitat and according to agreement, both bridges must not exist.  And given the aggression presented by members of the representatives from Dresden, it appears that they favor the transformation of Bockau into a modern village is more important than simply saving relicts of the past.  So this day may be the last I get a shot of this structure and a gorgeous view from on top, like these ones:

So with all the skepticism that I just posted, the question is why are we still fighting for the bridge if the State of Saxony wants it their way with the bridge?  As Piggeldy and Frederick would say: Nicht leicher als das:

Despite claims that the construction of the new bridge is a done deal and that the old structure would need to be removed, there are a few silver linings that were mentioned during today’s meeting. First of all, attempts to compromise were presented, some of which were to the disliking of one party or another, others were worth considering. The first compromise was presented by the mayors of Albernau and Bockau, where the bridge would be partially removed with the remaining two spans to be converted to an observation pier. That was completely rejected as it would be the same as demolishing the bridge plus the consensus is to keep the entire crossing over the river. As the bridge is protected by the Preservation Laws, it would be taken off the list if the bridge was altered in any way. To especially the mayor of Bockau who strove to see the bridge disappear, the suggestion to cut the bridge into bits is as bitter as eating pickled gizzards.

Onto option 2, which is redo the contract which would include keeping the bridge in its place. The reason behind it was the lack of communication behind what to do with the old bridge. When the contract was let for the new bridge, there was no information as to whether the contractor has the right to remove the old structure, nor was there any public input or even a referendum. Good idea but with one catch: The contract would need up to five years, and no further construction would be done on the new bridge. Furthermore, it needs approvement by both Dresden as well as the federal government, both of whom had originally given the green light for the current project. An attempt to partially redo the contract to omit the removal of the old sturcture is currently being considered.

And henceforth we look at option three, which is looking for new ownership. It is concluded that once the new bridge is open, the old bridge no longer will be the care of the federal government as it carries a federal highway (B 283). As neither Zschorlau nor Bockau want to take it, we must look at some interested third parties or partake on a joint public-private venture to own and maintain the bridge. Despite jumping the gun with claims that no one wants the bridge, there are enough parties in terms of persons and organizations who might take over. This include bike organizations as the bridge crosses the Mulde Bike Trail, a rails-to-trails route that connects Adorf with Aue. The person who takes over will need to ensure that the bridge is properly maintained and inspected and take over responsibility for any incidents and accidents that may happen. The advantage is the fact that if the bridge was handed over, it will be in the state as it was before it was closed, like this:

Originally, 1.2 million Euros would have been needed to refurbish the bridge which given its current condition it was not necessary. One needs to fill in the cracks and ensure the arches are ok, which they are:

The lone catch is that the clock is ticking. Since the meeting, we have not even a full year to find a new owner or come up with a reasonable concept that will be to the liking of the parties involved. Despite the claims of lack of feasiblity and the lack of want with regards to the bridge, we did conclude that if we could come up with a plan to keep the bridge in tact, the historic structure is ours for the keeping. The condition is that the north approach would need to be rebuilt to provide access for pedestrians and cyclists. Because of the Mulde Bike Trail and its potential to become a “bike-autobahn”, the bridge would be a perfect, easiest and safest crossing connecting two communities. However, all it needs is support from both the public and private sectors. No support, no plan, and that means no bridge.

And with that, no more photos of such a beautiful old stone lady……

…..holding a dandelion in its stone cracks……

waiting to give it to her supporters, including Ms. Ulrike Kahl, who was interviewed after the meeting.

And why Saxony needs a bike-autobahn along the Mulde, let alone how the German Preservation Laws work in comparison to the American one can be found in the coming articles. Stay tuned.

Help needed: What success stories have you had with public-private partnerships with bridges? What concepts would you present to convince all parties to keep the bridge in place? What practices have worked in the past. Any ideas, contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact form below:

Will accept all ideas in German, Spanish and French as well. All ideas are welcome.

 

A news story by German public TV station MDR was carried out on the same day and can be seen here.  Follow-ups will come. 🙂