“Bridge over Multnomah Falls”

“Bridge over Multnomah Falls”

Pique Images

“Bridge over Multnomah Falls”

At the beginning of winter thaw, the water rushes to the edge, the end.  It’s power evident in the roar of the falls cascading over and pooling on the shelf before it cascades again to the bottom.  The smell in the air is so crisp, you know spring is coming.  Blossoming in the sun.

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Bridges Should Be Beautiful by Ian Firth

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Abstract from ted.com: Bridges need to be functional, safe and durable, but they should also be elegant and beautiful, says structural engineer Ian Firth. In this mesmerizing tour of bridges old and new, Firth explores the potential for innovation and variety in this essential structure — and how spectacular ones reveal our connectivity, unleash our creativity and hint at our identity.

Author’s Note: This video came about via tip from one of the pontists in one of the social network sites devoted to historic bridges and serves as a reminder to another article published a week earlier on by Scottish engineers suggesting American bridge builders look for sources of inspiration in places outside their borders. In the past two decades, many new structures have been built to supplant other, fancier historic bridges, whose design presents an appealing taste to the public. The mentality of quantity versus quality at the lowest possible cost but at the same time with little or no maintenance for a century has resulted in blocks of concrete with no character ruling the rivers and streams with little or no aesthetic value. This myth is just a fantasy and is miles away from reality that we see on highways and in cities today. No wonder that protests against such projects to replace historic bridges with boring, bland modern structures presented by agencies with dilluted and questionable facts are increasing sharply, as we are seeing with the debate over the future of Frank Wood Memorial Bridge in Maine, for example.  The advice to take from the article (accessed here) and by looking at the video below is this: If a bridge needs to be replaced, find a way to reuse the structure for other purposes and if a new bridge is needed, please with an aesthetic appeal that the community will be happy with. Sometimes looking to Europe, Asia or even Africa will help engineers be creative and place quality over quantity. Better is looking at the bridge designs that have been discarded and experimenting with them. After all, money does not matter to bridge building. Communities and the lives of the People living there do, though.

Enjoy the Ted Talk Video  below. 🙂

Video:

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 9

This Pic of the Week is a throwback to 2010 in the United States. Many bridge enthusiasts love to capture tunnel views of through truss bridges or simply any bridge that has a roof covering on top and a portal view that is splendid to see upon entering it and one can identify with after crossing it. That is why these designs are unique and are being kept around even though building them nowadays are becoming more expensive.

This is one example of a classic tunnel view. This was taken at the Cedar River Bridge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This bridge is a six-span Pratt through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings and a plaque marking its completion date of 1898- 120 years ago this year. This duo-tracked bridge is owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and sees as many as a dozen trains  a day crossing it. The bridge has been used and abused multiple ties, surviving the great floods of 1993 and 2008. Still it presents an example of how a bridge design is selected for the purpose of having a durable crossing that can survive the daily beatings by freight and passenger trains but also the extremities of Mother Nature. With its beauty and history, passers-by and locals will always remember this bridge and its identity to the city; even if the bridge one day retires from service and is reused as a pedestrian or recreational crossing- something it truely deserves. 🙂

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Quick note: This was used as the first background photo for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles website under the Fargo-based areavoices name. Launched in 2010, it was part of the areavoices family until its closing this year. Now it is independently operated, powered by wordpress.

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Time Running out for Washington Bridge in Missouri

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Photo taken by James Baughn in 2008

Washington, Missouri (USA)- Replacing this unique Missouri River crossing is like the film True Crime. The almost 20-year old film featured a newspaper reporter who uses a half a day to rebuke claims that a person sentenced to death is innocent because of discreptancies. The last second evidence to avert the execution: a locket that was stolen by a killer who shoots the clerk at a convenience store and runs off, while the wrongly accused was using the restroom.

 

With the last beam of the new bridge in place, the clock is starting to tick loudly for the Washington Truss Bridge, which spans the Missouri River at Hwy. 47 in Washington. Built in 1936 by three different bridge builders located in Missouri and Kansas, the Bridge features a multiple-span cantilever through truss with X-frame portals and was built during the time of the Works Progress Administration, a program initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage people to partake in projects in response to the Great Depression. Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works in Leavenworth (Kansas) and two St. Louis Bridge builders- Stupp Brothers as well as  Sverdrup & Parcel Company were responsible for designing and constructing the 2,500-foot span, which was once one of the key landmarks of Washington.

Unfortunately for this bridge, its days appear to be coming to a close as a new span is currently being built right alongside the old span. While the length of the new structure will be about the same, the new bridge- a multiple span steel girder span- will be wider, with two 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and one 10-foot lane for bikes and pedestrians, which will total 54 feet in width- two and a half times the width of the current bridge. After two years, the last beam was put into place on 12 June and work is now underway to pour the concrete. City officials expect the new bridge to be open by December 1, pending on weather. The truss spans will be imploded at the beginning of 2019. Talks of saving the truss bridge was getting around, however, unless a petition drive is started to save the bridge for recreational use, Franklin County will be down to four through truss bridges that carry traffic, one of which has been relocated and restored. Yet  two of them  are scheduled to come down within the next five years.

Franklin County once had a wide array of through truss bridges. In fact, during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011, there were at least a dozen bridges of its kind left in service. With the Washington Bridge coming down, we may not have any bridges left to visit and photograph, a sign of the times for many who are disinterested in the history of America and its infrastructure. It doesn’t mean that the bridge is lost yet. There is still a chance to save it. But the time is running to start the drive and convince the State that the Bridge should be saved. It’s more of the question of who is willing to be that person who pulled off a stunt similar to what Everett did in True Crime.

An ariel view of the two bridges can be seen here:

 

A summary of the history of the construction of the Washington Truss Bridge via film can be seen here. A rather interesting documentary on how the bridge was built:

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 98: A small mill bridge spanning two waterways

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The 98th Mystery Bridge takes us back to the state of Saxony and the Vogtland Region. Not far from the village of Mylau is a very unusual stone arch bridge, which spans the River Goltzsch approximately one kilometer north of the Motorway A 72. The bridge is unusual for two reasons. Number one is a curve of the roadway of up to 120 degrees. That means when crossing the bridge going south, the road turns almost a sharp right. The arches form a skew in which the larger of the two has a 30° parallel skew, where as the smaller arch forms a funnel-like skew where one side is larger than the smaller. While the total length of the bridge is no more than 30 meters (the width is only two meters), the second unusual feature of the bridge is that it crosses two different waterways. The larger arch crosses the river, whereas the smaller arch crosses a canal which also crosses the river, running parallel to the larger arch span.

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The canal has long since been unused, and nature has taken over with small trees and bushes are growing directly in the canal bed. As one can see in the pictures above, the canal seems to be much newer than the stone arch span. The stone arch bridge dates back to the early 1800s when a water mill, known as Schottenmühle existed. The mill was used to harness energy and provide water to residents downstream, namely in Mylau and Netschkau. Records point to the first mill being built in the 1500s, yet the mill next to the bridge is the replica of the one built in trhe 1850s, but was abandoned by 1895 and was burned to the ground 6 April, 1896. The building was never rebuilt until almost a century later and is now a museum.  That was all that was found regarding the mill and with it the bridge.

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But what else do we know about this bridge and the mill? When was the bridge built, let alone the canal? If you have that information, feel free to comment or contact the Chronicles and add your thoughts on it. The structure is part of the bike trail running along the River Goltzsch, connecting Greiz with Eger in the Czech Republic and includes the world famous Goltzschtal Viaduct so accessing it is easy. Finding out more on the history of this mill and bridge is the other half of the battle yet to be won.

So good luck! 🙂

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MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis

 

The MacArthur Bridge is one of many historic gems that makes the City of St. Louis the place to visit. Spanning the Mississippi River, this three-span Pennsylvania through truss opened to traffic in 1917, eight years after construction started on the crossing. It featured a double-decker span, with rail traffic serving the bottom deck and the upper deck having had highway traffic. The bridge used to carry Route 66 until the Chain of Rocks Bridge opened in 1928 and the highway was relocated there. Another highway, US 460 also crossed the bridge. In 1941, the bridge was named in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the war hero of World War II in the Pacific and an opposing candidate to Harry Truman in the 1948 US Presidential Elections. The upper deck was closed to all traffic in 1981 and has since been removed. The bottom deck is still receiving rail traffic on a regional and local basis although in the future, a new bridge may be needed.

To know more about the bridge, one has to look at what the bridge was like in the pas as well as in the future. I had an opportunity to find and watch this documentary on the history of the MacArthur Bridge. Produced by Rich Dinkela (Roaming Rich), it features old photos and films as well as drone footage of the structure to present viewers with a glimpse of a historic landmark and its history. More here and enjoy the docu! 🙂

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There is a link that Shows you more of the MacArthur Bridge then and now. Note the Bridge is being alterated bit by bit to a Point where only the railroad Portion of the Bridge will remain in use. And then only for a short time as talks of replacing it with a newer span at ist own expense has been underway. More here.

 

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‘American leaders should look across the pond for inspiration.’ World Economic Forum describes Scotland’s Queensferry Crossing project as a model of good practice for US developers

Word of advice to American bridge engineers from the Scottish engineers: more money on the design and stability of the new bridge combined with the preservation of history will produce the maximal outcome. More on this guest column here…..

Talking-up Scotland

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(c) morrisonconstruction.co.uk

As the USA begins to face decades of neglect of its infrastructure, the World Economic Forum has identified Scotland’s new Queensferry Crossing project as a model example of good practice. I don’t seem to remember BBC Scotland, Kezia or Ruth saying that.

In quite an extended and detailed piece, the WEF open with:

The UK’s new Queensferry Crossing bridge, connecting Edinburgh to Fife in Scotland, offers an example on how to do it. Three good practices contributed to the high-quality process and outcomes: the UK planners diagnosed the problem early; took their time with careful design upfront; and built and sustained an inclusive coalition of stakeholders. The evidence speaks for itself. The Queensferry Crossing – a three-tower cable-stayed bridge with a length of 1.7 miles – opened in early September, well within budget and with a manageable 8-month time delay. This is a rare occurrence among…

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