BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 145: Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to Paoli, Indiana and this shot, taken by James Baughn. This is of the Gospel Street Truss Bridge (left) and Bowstring Arch Bridge (right), standing side-by-side. The truss span was built in 1880 by the Cleveland Bridge & Iron Company and was built using iron. The Bowstring Arch Bridge dates back to the 1930s, even though we don’t know when exactly and by whom the span was built. This pic was taken before the town of Paoli made the news on Christmas Day when a semi-truck tried to cross the span- and failed to succeed, putting the truss bridge into the waters of Lick Creek.

While the truck driver, a rather inexperienced Bible-thumper, got jail time for the incident, and the trucking firm was forced to close down, questions still linger as to how the truck driver managed to ignore the “No Trucks Allowed” sign, bigger than the Weight Limit sign! We know that the driver didn’t figure the math and that the GPS put her in the wrong location. But really: How much bigger can the sign be?

Sometimes, a sign like this one may be needed in order for drivers to pay attention:

Photo by Art Suckewer

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The bright side to this bridge disaster is that it made for an example of how the police should handle situations like this in the classroom, for regardless of country, the police officer has to know how to handle such a situation in his/her own language, let alone the fines for disobeying the traffic signs and other restructions. In my classroom in the German state of Saxony, it has been a hit for discussion both in English as well as in German, especially as the state has a few metal and wooden truss bridges left including five covered bridges.

The bridge has been restored to its former glory, with the trucking company having paid for the whole project. You can see it in the video below:

And even with the headache bars and other restrictions, there’s still work to be done to ensure that truckers must obey the traffic laws, even if it means having to redo some of the features in the GPS system to ensure that they stay off the roads where light-weight, small but historic bridges are located. But at the same time, tougher measures will still be needed to hold the truck driver and the company responsible. Jail time, fines and other sanctions are one thing, but education in trucking and law enforcement are just as important. After all, even if we live in a democracy, we have laws and laws are there to save lives and protect persons and property.

And that tops all the money being spent on more modern but bland concrete slabs whose value will never top a structure like the Gospel Twins of Paoli. 🙂 ❤

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