CLARENDON, ARKANSAS- After seven years of legal battle, the war officially came to an end yesterday. And victors on the side of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the US Fish and Wildlife and the Supreme Court celebrated with a bang!
The Clarendon Cantilever Truss Bridge was imploded yesterday morning, bringing not only the end of the bridge’s life but years of legal battles and campaigns to save it. The bridge was built in 1931 by four different bridge building firms and was considered the last of the Sister Bridges along the White River. A biography of the bridge’s life can be found here.
The bridge was replaced in 2014 but efforts were undertaken to save the structure and reuse it as a bike trail crossing, implanting it into the proposed national bike trail. This was in connection with the proposed agreement to tear the bridge down once its replacement opened to traffic. The battle crystalized onto the legal scene in 2018, where the matter was taken through the courts. The Arkansas State Supreme Court in July of this year ruled in favor of the US Fish and Wildlife and Arkansas DOT, thus putting the last nails into the coffin of the historic bridge.
Hundreds of locals and news crews were on hand to say adieu to the last of the sisters, as crews brought it down into the river, and with that, all the efforts to reuse a bridge to benefit others. This demolition also sets a signal out to the historic bridge community that no bridge is safe unless you know the likes of Charlie Wilson in Washington, who are nowhere near in relation to our current White House administration or their affiliates.
1931 Suspension Bridge over the River Tarn Collapses after Overweight Truck Crosses It. Many People Missing
TOULOUSE, FRANCE- Police investigators are looking into the causes of the collapse of a suspension bridge, which spanned the River Tarn between the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessières, located 18 miles (35 kilometers) north of Toulouse in southwestern France. The collapse happened yesterday morning at around 8:35am, sending at least two vehicles into the rushing waters of the Tarn. A 15-year old girl was killed on the wreck, her body was found downstream from the wreckage. She was the passenger of the car driven by her mother, which fell in. The mother was pulled out of the wreck by locals. Also killed was a 39-year old truck driver, who was also on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Five people were reported injured; three of which during the rescue operations. Officials still fear many more missing and search crews are scouting the scene to find potential bodies, etc. Eyewitnesses saw the bridge collapse shortly after an overweight truck had crossed the structure. The 155 meter long suspension bridge had a weight limit of 19 tons and the latest inspection reports (2017) revealed no structural defects. Charges against the driver of the truck are pending.
A video below shows the wreckage of the bridge and the rushing waters of the River Tarn. Basically, the suspender cables, which connected the main cables with the trussed roadway snapped, sending the roadway into the river.
The suspension bridge itself was built in 1931 by the engineering firm Baudin Chateauneuf, which specialized in constructing viaducts and major crossings in France. Its predecessor was an 1800s suspension bridge with arched towers. It was destroyed in a flood in 1930. Like its predecessor, the suspension bridge has wired cables and used to have suspenders that supported the roadway. The decking was supported with subdivided Warren pony trusses. It was last renovated in 2003. The bridge was a local favorite for the communities and was a key crossing, yet concerns came about regarding its stability because of increasing numbers of vehicles crossing it, some of which exceed the 19 ton weight mimit. The roadway was only 7 meters wide (20 feet).
It’s unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt. It’s currently blocked off on both sides and an inspection report will need to be carried out to determine its salvageability. More details to come in the Chronicles via its facebook and twitter pages.
300 meter long motorway bridge over the Waiho at Franz Josef Washed Away in the Storms
FRANZ JOSEF (NEW ZEALAND)-
Less than two weeks after the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, which left 50 people dead and scores injured, residents on the South Island of New Zealand are dealing with another mishap- this time by Mother Nature. Storms and high winds, producing rainfall of up to 550 mm or 10% of the yearly rainfall amount caused widespread flooding and erosion in the Franz Josef Glacier Region and putting tourism in the town of Franz Josef/Waiau, with 450 inhabitants, plus areas along the Waihou River in peril. At the time of this posting, one person was reported to have died after being swept away by floodwaters.
Many roads have been washed out and bridges damaged. But one bridge in particular, which connects Franz Josef with areas near Haast, has been washed away by floodwaters, thus leaving tourists stranded and having to look for another crossing. The Waihou Bridge at Franz Josef lost two thirds of its spans on Tuesday, as the raging river, ripped the bridge off its abutments, broke off two spans sending it down the river and left a third one hanging in the water. A video taken by a spectator shows the destruction of the bridge:
The six-span bridge was a Bailey pony truss with a total length of approximately 300 meters long. The width was no more than 6 meters, which meant only one car could cross and a speed limit of 30 kilometers/hour was enforced. It is unknown when that bridge was built, let alone how long until a replacement span is constructed. It did serve a major highway going along the West Coast of the South Island. Just minutes before the wash-out, there were people on the bridge viewing the rising waters of the Waiho River, some filmed it from the bridge before getting off. The disaster happened when no one was on the bridge.
Ironically, another key bridge, the Waihou Swinging Bridge near Franz Josef, was not affected by the floods and is still open for hikers and pedestrians. The 90-year old bridge was fabricated in England before it was shipped to New Zealand. It still is a popular attraction for tourists.
Franz Josef is 32 kilometers away from the nearest city of Whataora to the northeast. It is on the western side of the island, almost exactly opposite of Christchurch but over 450 flying kilometers away to the east.
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The 40th Pic of the Week by the Chronicles takes us back 11 years and to this bridge. The Little Church Road Bridge spanned the Turkey River near the village of Festina in Winneshiek County, Iowa. Built in 1876 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, this bridge was once the third longest bowstring arch bridge in the US, behind the Freeport in Decorah and the Kern Bridge in Mankato, with a total length of 178 feet.
When this photo was taken, it was at sundown, where the sun had disappeared into the clouds, but the skies got bluer, as well as darker. This pic was taken with frost-covered weeds obscuring the entire structure in view. With those two in mind, it made the bridge look creepy. With cars and trucks crossing it, creating a series of screeching noises caused by friction among the iron parts, it made the bridge look haunted. Even when my wife and I were in our rental car heading to the hotel in Decorah, that sound could be heard hundreds of feet away.
Since 2010, the bridge is no more. It was scrapped at the last minute due to failure to secure funding to relocate it to Decorah for use as a bike trail crossing. That decision sparked an outcry by many in the historic bridge community, especially because of its rarity in design and dimensions. In spite of this, the county still has two historic bowstring arch bridges in use, both of which are in parks in Decorah (with the Freeport) and Castalia (with the Moneek), plus a modern one located next to the Freeport in Decorah. It is unknown whether another one, the Gilliecie Bridge, which collapsed under the weight of a truck in 2017, will ever be rebuilt. But in either case, the rare number of these bowstring arch bridges in the county shows how much we should care for our historic structures. If there are chances to save them, we go all the way knowing the consequences in either direction. Anything less than that is the same as taking away the chance of others to visit and photograph the historic bridge, to walk back into history, even for a few minutes.
And for that, no book or internet site can replace it, even if one tries to persuade the writer.