Newsflyer 6 December 2017

 

It seems that we cannot avoid growing additional greys in our hair nor can we get enough of the crying and anger pillows lately. While we keep cussing the Lord’s name in vain over President Donald Trump’s absurd policies and aversion of trouble involving the Russia scandal and Putin’s interference in last year’s presidential elections, we are even shaking our heads over the use and abuse of historic bridges in the news lately. Five historic bridges- two in Germany and three in the States have received coverage in the news lately, except in terms of negative publicity. One of which deals with an oncoming problem with overheight vehicles; another with overweight vehicles. Then we have a ruling involving a bridge arson that was way too light. Has our society gone completely insane, allowing people to get away with destroying bridges as much as they can get away with murder? In this summary of the Chronicles’ Newsflyer, the answer is a clear yet. The problem is unless we have an Atomic Blonde who can bring back the country from the brink- as seen in the film– we seem to head in the direction most of us don’t want.

 

Double-Decker Bus Shaved into half by Berliner Underpass

BERLIN- In the German capital’s suburb of Spandau, there was a competition between a railroad underpass built a decade ago to carry long-distance and regional trains and a Flixbus Double-decker bus, whereas the clearance of the underpass was 3.8 meters (11.7 feet) and the bus was 4.5 meters (13 feet). Going at a speed of 50 km/h (30 mph) in the middle of the night, you can imagine what happened there! While Flixit is one of three privately-owned long-distance bus providers in Germany, which also owns the Locomore rail services, the bus was empty and the driver escaped unharmed. Police are investigating the cause of the accident which horizontally sliced the bus into half.

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Schedewitz Bridge’s Days Numbered?

ZWICKAU (SAXONY)- It is no secret that the Cainsdorf Bridge spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River just south of the city limits is scheduled to be replaced in the coming year, for the bridge is over 90 years old and can no longer handle the increasing traffic.  It is a surprise that another bridge in the south of Zwickau in Schedewitz may be the next bridge to be torn down. According to multiple reports, despite the desolate state of the Warren deck truss spans (the superstructure is extremely rusty) and the lack of lighting , the City of Zwickau has decided that rehabilitating the 1890 bridge would be exorbitant and voted to make the necessary bridge repairs to keep it open. This is inspite of the numerous complaints by reisdents to renovate the bridge to make it safer and attractive to others. Out of service since 1956, the bridge has been a key access crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. Yet the decision to reject a renovation project similar to neighboring Röhrensteg and Paradiesbrücke has raised the question of how long the bridge will be in use until the decision is made to replace it. Given the neglect of the bridge, it may not be long until a flood or other incident brings it down and the issue is back on the table of the city council again. For more on the bridge, check out the Tour Guide of the Bridges of Zwickau here. It will include information of the Cainsdorf Bridge, which will definitely be replaced.  The city had won the 2016 Ammann Awards in the category of Tour Guide International.

O’neal Bridge before the collapse. Photo taken by Tony Dillon.

O’neal Bridge in Indiana Destroyed by Tractor

ZIONSVILLE, INDIANA- Boone County officials are investigating what factors led to the driver of a farm tractor to cross the O’neal Bridge on 3 December, dropping the 125-year old structure into the waters of Big Eagle Creek. The tractor exceeded both the weight limit of four tons as well as the vertical clearance of 16.5 feet, and once it reached the center of the span, the structure fell into the water. This is the second incident to happen in Boone County in a year. Last year a tractor tried to cross Creek Road Bridge spanning Sugar Creek east of I-65, damaging the upper chord of the truss bridge. Both bridges have similar characteristics: they are Pratt through truss bridges, yet O’neal was built 20 years earlier. Both bridges were rehabilitated and with new paint: Creek Road in 2012 and this bridge in 2009. Police are looking at whether these incidents are related.  O’neal was built by the Lafayette Bridge Company and had very unique Town Lattice portal bracings. Yet with this accident, it is very difficult to envision the bridge being rebuilt for the pinned-connected antique is now a pile of twisted metal. But in Indiana, with its excellent track record, everything is possible for rebuilding historic bridges.

Millville Bridge. Photo taken by J.R. Manning

Millville Bridge Gone- along with its History and Uniqueness

COLESBURG, IOWA- Mother nature took another historic bridge despite its potential to be rebuilt. The Millville Bridge, which spanned Peck Creek on Millville Road, was knocked off its foundations during flooding in July. Clayton County officials decided to replace the downed structure with a low-water crossing and downgrade the road to a minimum maintenance (B-level) road, which happened this fall. It was a tragic loss for two reasons: 1. It was one of a handful of riveted Warren-Pratt hybrid truss bridges that exist in the US and perhaps the last of its kind in Iowa. 2. It may have been the lone structure built by the Dubuque Boat and Boiler Works Company. The 60-foot pony truss span with riveted connections was built in 1916, using the standard bridge designs that had been introduced by the state 5 years earlier.

Cedar Covered Bridge taken in 2007 while on tour.

Plea Agreement for Burning Historic Covered Bridge

WINTERSET, IOWA-  A plea agreement was made in county court between one of the three members responsible for setting fire to the Cedar Covered Bridge. 19-year old Alivia Bergmann entered the plea of guilty to 2nd degree arson. The agreement includes testifying against the two co-defendants, 17-year old Alexander Hoff and 18-year old Joel Davis, who are charged with setting the historic covered bridge on fire on 15 April, 2017. The bridge was rebuilt in 2004 replicating the 1883 span that had fallen victim to arson, two years earlier. The structure is still standing ableit charred, yet fundraising efforts have been underway since the incident, and the bridge is scheduled to be rebuilt. Costs are estimated to be at $600,000, a large portion of which Bergmann will have to pay. As for Davis and Hoff, their future is in the balance as they are facing trial. If guilty, prison time, fines or a combination of both are awaiting.

 

 

 

 

Cobban Bridge to Be Replaced: Truss Bridge’s Future Unknown

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN-  Imagine this situation for a second: You have an old but very unique historic bridge with a history that binds two communities together. After being built 120 years ago, it was relocated to its present site during its 20th year and remains in use until structural problems force the county to close the bridge and plan its replacement. The bridge is located near a bike trail that used to be a railroad line connecting the two communities. While the public is really attached to the bridge, the county insists on building a new bridge at its current site because the cost for even restoring the bridge is far more than just tearing it down and replacing it. Because of its history and unique design, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes funding for restoring the structure easier to achieve than it is when removing it using federal funds. Yet funding for restoring the bridge is hard to find. What do you do?

Do you:

  1. Proceed to tear the bridge down and replace it?
  2. Get a second opinion about the cost of evaluating the bridge and find ways to fix the bridge for continued use?
  3. Build a bridge alongside the sturcture and convert the old bridge into a pedestrian crossing?
  4. Build a new bridge at its original site but find constructive ways to relocate the bridge or use part of the structure- especially along the bike trail?

In the case of the Cobban Bridge, a two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge spanning the Chippewa River southwest of Cornell in western Wisconsin, the situation is very precarious, for the historic bridge, considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its history and unique design, has met the end of its useful life as a vehicular crossing. Yet costs for restoring vs. replacing the bridge have forced county officials to look at other options apart from rehabilitating the bridge in place or building a new structure alongside the old one. In other words, the bridge cannot remain in its current place and must go.

Since August 2, the bridge has been shut down to all traffic including pedestrians, and talks are underway for securing funding for the bridge’s removal in place of a new strucure. This also includes looking at options for reusing the bridge, which when looking at the drone video, it’s a real beauty:

Yet inspite of its beauty, the Cobban Bridge will most likely have to make its third move in its lifetime, unless financial support for reconstructing the bridge at its current location combined with constructing a new bridge alongside the structure is realized, not just on the government level but also from the private sector.

When the bridge was first built in 1908 by the Modern Steel Structures Company, based Waukesha, the two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge was over the Chippewa River between the townships of Anson and Eagle Point. The bridge was christened the Yellow River Bridge even though it was located one mile north of the Yellow River itself. Replacing the iron bridge built years before, the structure had the same features as the one at its present location: it was made of steel, had pinned connections, overhead V-laced strut bracings and a three-rhombus Howe lattice portal bracings with 45° heel bracings. Ten years later, as part of the plan to construct a dam along the river near Chippewa Falls (and subsequentially inundate the crossing upstream), the bridge was relocated 15 miles downstream to cross the same river between Cornell and Jim Falls near the village of Cobban. The bridge has been in service since then- all 486.5 feet in length; each span, being identical and having a length of 241 feet.

Despite this, planning has been in the works to replace the Cobban Bridge, even though the two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge is not only the last one of its truss type left in the state, but it is the only multiple-span bridge of its kind in the country! Inspections and estimates have revealed that restoring the bridge to be reused even for pedestrian purposes would be $13-14 million. A report presented by a well-known bridge builder, AECOM (whose regional office is based in Stevens Point in northern Wisconsin) revealed that replacing the bridge on a new alignment would cost $11 million, up from an estimated $7.2 million that was figured in March 2016. If delayed until 2025, the price would be lowered from $12.9 million to $8.6 million at the site where the bridge is located. Tearing the bridge down would cost $1.6 million. Established as a conglomerate in 1990, AECOM has its headquarters in New York but dozens of offices throughout the country as well as Europe. While its specialty is designing and building state-of-the-art buildings and modern bridges, for restoring historic bridges, its only focus has been on stone arch bridges, which included Grobler’s Bridges in South Africa and the Railroad Viaduct over the Neisse in Görlitz, at the German-Polish border. County officials and supporters of the Cobban Bridge are dissatisfied with the results provided by AECOM. Yet all parties have agreed to one thing, if the bridge is unsafe, then something has to be done about it.

Because of its design and historical integrity, the bridge is elgible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which means environmental and cultural impact surveys (especially those in connection with Section 106 of the Preservation Laws) are to be undertaken before any work on replacing the bridge was to commence. According to Marilyn Murphy, who has started a facebook page on Saving the Cobban Bridge and has over 2000 followers, the surveys are already underway. As the project will require federal money, state and local authorities are mandated to allow the surveys be undertaken to determine the impact of replacing the Cobban Bridge, while looking at alternatives for reusing the bridge. Several other agencies have been involved in looking for options for the bridge, including the Texas-based Historic Bridge Foundation, as well as the Chippewa County Historical Society. The key variable that is known, according to Murphy, is that the county would like to relieve themselves of legal responsibilities for the bridge and would gladly like to give the bridge to any third party member wishing to take responsibility for maintaining the structure, including its relocation.

So with the bridge available for the taking, what options are available for the Cobban Bridge?

In the interview with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, Murphy presented a long list of possibilities for reuse. This includes using portions of the bridge along the Old Abe Bike Trail, which runs along the Chippewa between Lake Wissota and Brunet Island State Parks, relocating one or both spans back to the original Yellow River site, using one span for a state park, or even purchasing parts of the dismantled span (boards or beams) as remembrances. However, as mentioned earlier, there is interest in keeping the two spans in its original spot- a practical and most logical choice, yet two variables are lacking: funding and expertise. Funding because it is likely that regardless of ownership- be it through the state with the Department of Natural Resources (which owns the Old Abe Bike Trail), private-public partnership or simply pure ownership- funding will need to be found mostly through private sources, including donations from companies and citizens. This would be needed to renovate the bridge to make it a viable crossing for pedestrians and cyclists and incorporate it into the bike trail. Expertise would mean looking at companies that have restored bridges like this for recreational use, and there are enough both in-state as well as out-of-state to go around. Even if the bridge is to be relocated again, these two variables are going to be key in order for the bridge to live on.

What needs to be done in order to prevent the demise of the Cobban Bridge?

We know that the bridge has been declared off limits for all traffic, including pedestrians and cyclists- at least until the environmental impact and cultural surveys are completed, which can take 6-12 months or more to complete (including alternatives for reusing the bridge both in place and elsewhere).  Without that there is no federal funding that can cover 80% of the costs for the bridge. There has been a lot of public support and sentiment towards the Cobban Bridge and ways to save and reuse the structure, yet the approach of doing-nothing is not an option. This was already seen with the Wagon Wheel Bridge in Iowa, and its neglect, combined with vandalism and the lack of maintenance resulted in the “Triple GAU” consisting of arson, collapse and in the end, the removal of the remaining structure in 2016. There are a lot of ideas for reusing the bridge- be it in place or at a different location (even in segments), and the county is ready to hand over the keys that will unlock the gates that have closed off the structure since August, forcing travelers to detour to crossings at Jim Falls and Cornell. Yet, like with the Green Bridge in Des Moines, Iowa, which has been reopened since the end of last year, a group or alliance will be needed that will take over ownership and assume full responsibilities of the bridge and assure that it is safe for use. And speaking from experiences of others, the going may be tough at the beginning, but after a series of fundraisers and other events to help restore and reuse the bridge, the Cobban Bridge may have another life beyond that of horse and buggy, the Model T and lastly, the Audi.

 

If you would like to help restore and/or reuse the Cobban Bridge, you can visit its facebook page (here) and contact Marilyn Murphy at this address: mjmurphy1970@gmail.com. She’s the main contact for the bridge and can also provide you with some other contact information of others involved with the project. She and her husband Jim were nice enough to provide some pics of the bridge for this article.  The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the Cobban Bridge and the steps that will be needed on the structure’s future, regardless of which direction it is taken.

 

   

Central States Bridge Company of Indianapolis, Indiana

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Boyd Bridge at Greensburg City Park in Craig, Indiana- a fine product of CSBC. Photo taken by Tony Dillon

This article is in connection with the creation of the database for the Bridge Builder’s Directory in the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ wordpress page, which you can click here to view.

Indiana, together with Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York, were considered the big six in terms of steel construction and bridge building during the heyday of architectural and infrastructural expansion between 1880 and 1920. Steel mills were found between Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, including the metropolises of Chicago, Indianapolis, Canton and Cleveland. Several schools of bridge building existed, which churned out the finest bridge builders and businessmen in the field. This included the Indiana school, which had over a dozen bridge builders, including the longest known bridge builder in the state, The Central States Bridge Company (CSBC). But what do we know about the company and its founder to date?

The company was created in 1895 as the New Castle Steel Sewer Pipe Company by Eugene Runyan and others, with its headquarters in New Castle, IN. It later expanded its services and began building bridges. In 1897,  in response to the changing trends in infrastructural work that included the increasing demand for metal truss bridges, the company changed its name to New Castle Bridge Company and would later receive contracts for bridge building in Iowa, Virginia, and Michigan. In 1905, the company relocated to Indianapolis and was renamed the Central States Bridge Company. Prior to World War I, the bridge company constructed dozens of bridges of its kind in 10 states, including: Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Montana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska and New York. Many of these bridges have been either documented by the State Historical Societies, HABS/HAER or both and are either listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are considered eligible. Yet many of these CSBC bridges are disappearing fast as they have been either replaced or demolished in the past 20 years. This includes the following bridges:

Lefarge Bridge in Wisconsin: This bridge used to be the Hudson Toll Bridge until it was relocated in 1953 to its final destination. It was documented by HABS/HAER before it was removed in 1983.

Standing Rock Bridge in Montana: This three-span polygonal Warren through truss bridge was one of the key historic sites laong the Yellowstone River until its replacement in 1991

Little Flatrock Bridge in Indiana: Decatur County was CSBC’s primary customer as a half dozen of its bridges were built there between 1900 and 1916. This one had a fancy portal bracing, yet efforts to save the bridge from the wrecking ball failed, as the bridge was removed in 2000 after its replacement was built. However, the Applegate Bridge has a similar feature and is in storage, awaiting relocation for reuse.

Structures that are still standing include:

Boyd Bridge in Indiana: This used to span Sand Creek at CR 700 before it was relocated to Greensburg Park in Craig in 2006, nicely restored and now part of a bike path.

Bernadotte Bridge in Illinois: This bridge features a Pratt through truss and a Pratt pony truss. Damaged by the flooding along the Spoon River, the pony truss span was taken out of the river and placed on blocks, while the through truss is still standing. Efforts are being undertaken to save the entire structure.

Locust Street Bridge in New York: Located in the town of Waterloo, this 1914 arch structure was the only known bridge of its kind built by CSBC and is still in service today.

Little is known what happened to the Central States except to say that even though the founder, Mr. Runyan, died in 1913, the business continued building bridges well into the 1970s and 80s, according to the Indiana Historical Society during the author’s correspondance in 2007. Whether the company still exists today, either as an independent entity or as part of a larger steel and/or bridge company remains unknown to date, nor do we have much information on the later structures built by CSBC.

If you know more about the company, especially regarding Euguene Runyan’s life and the company’s existence sice 1919 in terms of bridge examples, advertising or other information, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, under the following address: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Further information will be added to this page pending on the information that is received at that time.

In the meantime, check out the list of bridges built by CSBC by clicking on the following links below:

http://bridgehunter.com/category/builder/central-states-bridge-co/- Bridgehunter.com

Historic Bridges.org: Central States Bridge Company

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C.W. Gove of Windom, Minnesota

Petersburg Village Bridge
Petersburg Village Bridge in Petersburg (Jackson County), MN Photo taken by MnDOT in 1963

This article is in connection with the creation of the database for the Bridge Builder’s Directory in the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ wordpress page, which you can click here to view. More information is needed on this gentleman, who contributed a great deal in engineering southwestern Minnesota, including Jackson, Cottonwood and Murray Counties. If you have information that will help, the contact details are at the end of the article.

Charles Wallace Gove is a little known figure in the engineering business as his primary focus was building bridges, roads and ditches in southern Minnesota, in and around Cottonwood County  (where Windom is located). Little is known about the bridges he built except records  indicated he built two bridges in Jackson County (which are profiled at the end of this info  sheet) and an unknown number in his county. On the political level, he was a dedicated  farmer and political journalist who left his mark at the State Capitol with his plan that is still  being used today for commercial farming.

Born in 1863 in De Witt, Iowa, he and his brother Wade settled in Jackson County, Minnesota in 1886, where he farmed and taught in nearby Lakefield until his move to Cottonwood County in 1895, where he established his farmstead in Great Bend Twp. northwest of Windom.  From that time on until his death in 1936, Mr. Gove busied himself with the transportation sector, first as a surveyor until 1912 and then afterwards, as a county engineer. During his tenure as surveyor, he led the efforts in constructing ditches in Cottonwood, Nobles and Murray Counties and later on in parts of Jackson County, as flooding was rampant during that time, and farmers needed them to provide runoff for the excess waterflow.

It was also during that time that he led the bridge building effort in parts of Jackson County, as county officials were turning to local builders who were willing to construct bridges at an affordable price. While the bridges he built were not spectacular in design, his most worthy structures were the bridge near Rost as well as the second crossing at Petersburg, built in 1912 and 1915, respectively.  When he was not building bridges and maintaining the roads in Cottonwood County, he wrote various articles and essays for local and regional newspapers, including his most famous one, the Minnesota Plan. There, he advocated simpler farming techniques, which included constructing  deeper and systematic plowing before planting and ditches to provide water run-off.  His writings dealt with philosophical thoughts mixed with a bit of wit and humor that made the readers enjoy every paragraph. He was recognized by the state for his work at the time of his death. Charles Gove died on 29 August, 1936.

Rost Bridge
Rost Bridge. Photo take by MnDOT in 1948

The Bridges built by C.W. Gove:

Rost Bridge

Location:  Little Sioux River at 390th Avenue, 0.1 mile south of Interstate 90 in Rost Twp.

Type:  Steel stringer with steel railings (altered in the 1970s)

Dimensions: 32.3 feet long; 16.4 feet wide

Built in 1912, replaced in 2002

This bridge used to carry a key road to the unincorporated village of Rost, located 2 miles north of the bridge. The village had a couple trading businesses and a church, the latter of which still exists today. The contract was given to C.W. Gove to build this bridge on 8 July, 1912, which was completed by the end of that year. The road was cut off by the Interstate in 1973 and after 90 years in service, this bridge was replaced by a pair of culverts in 2002.

 

Petersburg Village Bridge

Location: West Fork Des Moines River on a local road in Petersburg

Type: Two-span Pratt pony truss with pinned connections and steel cylindrical piers

Dimensions: 171 feet long (2x 81-foot truss spans); 16 feet wide

Built in 1915 replacing an earlier structure; destroyed in the 1965 flooding during the construction of its replacement upstream. Replacement bridge opened in 1965

The Village Bridge was the longest bridge known to have been built by C.W. Gove. He was awarded a contract to build the structure for $3050 to replace the bridge built 30 years earlier, just after it was founded. The bridge was in service until the Flood of 1965, which destroyed the structure. It was also at that time that a construction worker at the new bridge, located one mile west of the old one, fell into the icy river and drowned. His body was recovered in June 1965, three months after the replacement bridge opened to traffic

 

Do you know of other bridges built by C.W. Gove or have some more knowledge about the Minnesota plan or his written work? Let’s hear about it. Contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com and feel free to provide some additional information for this fact sheet about this unknown engineer who left a mark on the local level. The info will be added and/or modified  based on what comes in.

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Photos of the Rost and Petersburg Village Bridges are courtesy of MnDOT