123-year old through truss bridge sent to the scrap yard.
Millbrook, Illinois- The bridge was the last of its kind in the county. It was a perfect fit as a hiking trail, a centerpiece for the village of Millbrook. Now the historic Millbrook Truss Bridge is no more.
Crews demolished the three-span through truss bridge on Monday, thus putting an end to all the talk of saving the structure. At the time of this post, crews are removing the truss parts and the stone piers that had held the structure in place for 123 years. The cost for the bridge removal is expected to be at $476,000 with the county and the forest preserve, where the bridge is located, expected to share the expense.
The Millbrook Bridge was built in 1897. One of the truss spans was replaced in 1910. It had served traffic until its closure to vehicles in 1984 and finally to pedestrians in 2015, following an inspection that deemed the bridge was unsafe for use. Talks of trying to save the bridge by handing over ownership and sharing the costs for rehabilitation failed to bear fruit due to liability concerns, something neither Kendall County, the forest preserve nor the Village of Millbrook were able to afford.
With the Millbrook Bridge gone, there are no more truss bridges in Kendall County and only a handful of historic bridges dating back to the 1920s remain in the county. Yet with the progress on its infrastructure with new roads and fewer railroads in operation, it is expected that the remaining historic bridges will be gone within a decade, thus making the county an HB-free state, one of an ongoing, increasing number of US counties that are following the trend. Sadly though, the new structures in place will be due for rehabilitation in 10-15 years, resulting in the question of whether this senseless progress of modernization was worth the price. It may be the case with the fall of the Millbrook Bridge in the short term. In the long term, one will be asking whether it was necessary.
To view the photos of the (demolition) of the Millbrook Bridge, click here to see the bridge before and after the demolition.
Over 115-year old crossing over the Zwickau Mulde will be torn down beginning June 6. Replacement Bridge to be completed by End of November
LUNZENAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- One can see the bridge from the Göhren Railway Viaduct. The structure and the viaduct itself were once a photographer’s dream, especially because of its unique setting along the River Zwickau Mulde. Now the historic Waldcafé Bridge will become a memory.
The Waldcafé Bridge is a single span stone arch bridge with open spandrels resembling mini-arches. It was built in 1904 and has a total length of 60 meters and a width of 7 meters. The bridge carries State Highway 242. The bridge was recognized in the book Steinbrücken in Deutschland (Stone Bridges in Germany), which has a short summary on the historic structure. It was also listed as a technical monument by the Saxony Ministry for the Protection of Historic and Cultural Places (Denkmalschutz).
Workers are prepping for the removal of the historic bridge and replacing it with a more modern structure. After installing a temporary footbridge over the river, the bridge will fall victim to the diggers. The project to replace the span will last from now until the end of November, pending on the situation with the weather and the Corona Virus. The footbridge will provide direct access to the Waldcafé from the parking area on the southern end of the bridge, which will be a relief for business owners who had already taken a hit from the loss of customers because of Covid-19 but also the cyclists who otherwise would have been forced to detour via Lunzenau or Wechselberg. The cost for the whole project is estimated to be at approximately 220,000 Euros.
When work on the new bridge is finished, tourists and commuters will see a modern bridge that is wider and safer for use. Yet its historic flavor will be missed, Especially if one sees the new structure from the viaduct.
Located in the southern part of the district of Stendal, the city of Tangermünde is located on the River Elbe in the northern part of the German state of Saxony Anhalt. The city has over 10,400 inhabitants and is famous for its historic architecture dating back to the Medieval period. It’s one of only a handful of walled cities left in Germany that is in tact and one can find many historic places within the walls of the city, such as the towers, St. Stephan’s Church, Elbe Gate, and the historic city hall. The hanseatic city survived almost unscathed during World War II, for only a few trussed houses (Fachwerkhäuser) were destroyed.
Yet one of the city’s prized historic works, the Elbe River Crossing, was destroyed, leaving a scar on the city.
The Tangermünde Bridge was built in 1933, after taking two years of construction. The 833-meter long bridge features a steel through arch main span (at 115 meters) with a height of 15 meters and a vertical clearance of 9 meters. There were a total of 24 spans featuring many forms of steel girders, through and pony alike. The bridge remained in service for only 12 years. On 12 April, 1945, in an attempt to hinder the advancing American army, Nazi soldiers blew up the crossing while retreating towards Berlin. Nevertheless, to avoid being sent to Soviet camps, sections of the 9th and 12th Wehrmacht armies (Germany) surrendered to the Americans. They had used the destroyed spans to help residents fleeing the advancing Soviet army. A temporary crossing was constructed afterwards.
Here are some videos of the Tangermünde Crossing after it was destroyed by explosives. This was filmed after the Nazis surrendered to American troops. The gravity of the destruction of the bridge was huge and was a symbol of the destruction that would be bestowed upon in all of Germany.
The Tangermünde Crossing was rebuilt by the Soviets and the East Germans after Tangermünde became part of East Germany in 1950. They recycled the bridge parts and rebuilt a multiple-span crossing that featured as a main span a curved Pratt through truss with welded connections. Ist portal was I-beam with 45° angle heels. The remaining spans featured Bailey trusses, both pony as well as through truss. A tunnel view oft he Bailey through truss can be found in a blog which you can read here.
The structure lasted through the Fall of the Wall before it was replaced with the current structure, a steel through arch that mimicks that of the 1933 span. The bridge itself is almost twice as long as the original span, having a total length of nearly 1.5 km. It was built nearly two kilometers to the north of the old span, which remained in use until it was closed to all traffic in 2001 when the new bridge opened to traffic. The old structure was removed two years later. At the same time, the main highway, B-188, was rerouted, thus bypassing much of the city and having only local traffic going through town.
Today, the Tangermünde Crossing still serves local traffic. Its design has fit into the rest of the city’s historic landscape, much of which has been restored since 1990. Yet as we celebrate the end of World War II, many people remember how their prized work was destroyed towards the end of the war in a cowardly attempt to prevent the inevitable. And because the city was for the most part spared, Tangermünde has continued to become a tourist attraction. People can go back to the Medieval times and enjoy the architecture, before heading to the River Elbe to see the structural beauty. Despite being one of the youngest crossings along the Elbe, it is one with a story to tell to children and grandchildren alike.
189-year old arch viaduct from the British era imploded.
LONAVALA, INDIA- A piece of history from the British era in India has fallen. Crews of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) brought down the Amrutanjan Bridge on April 7th, using explosives.It took no more than 10 seconds for the eight arches to come down in sequential order, as seen in the video above. Construction of the brick arch bridge started in 1829 and was completed less than a year later in November 1830. It is unknown who had directed the construction of the viaduct. The bridge was over 300 meters long and 20 meters high. The viaduct was integrated into the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in 2002, but was put out of service a decade later.
The Raigad District Collector provided the MSRDC the green light to proceed with the demolition, taking advantage of the Indian government’s Corona Virus lockdown order that is currently in place through May 3rd. It had been slated on the condemnation list since 2017 because of its deteriorating state. Nevertheless, there are still countless of ancient structures left belonging to the former British colony that had ruled India until its independence in 1948.
Communist-style old bridge to be torn down, road to be realigned to new span. Cable-stayed bridge to open to traffic by the end of May.
SCHLUNZIG/ GLAUCHAU/ ZWICKAU, GERMANY- Commuters driving between Glauchau and Zwickau will have one less route to take for the next quarter of the year. The Schlunzig Bridge, spanning the River Zwickau Mulde, along with the road connecting Schlunzig and the Volkswagen Company in Mosel will be closed down beginning Monday. The 1954 bridge will be torn down, while the road and the approaches will be realigned to the new cable-stayed bridge. The electrical and water mains will also be rerouted to the cable-stayed bridge prior to the old bridge’s removal. According to the Chemnitz Free Press, the demolition and road realignment project is expected to last through May.
Construction on the new bridge began in 2017 and it came in response to the inspection report on the (now) 66-year old bridge that revealed grave deficiencies that made rehabilitating the bridge impracticle. The bridge sustained severe damage in the 2013 floods resulting in the limitation of the speed limit to 30 km/h. Originally scheduled to open last spring, the construction on the cable-stayed bridge was slowed due to weather as well as the delay in the shipment of cables originating from Spain. The cables were spun and the stayed cables were completed in December.
The old bridge was built in response to the Great Flood of 1954, where 80% of the crossings along the Zwickau Mulde were destroyed. Its predecessor was one of them- a polygonal Warren through truss bridge with curved lattice strut and portal bracings, plus deck truss approach spans. It had originally carried a 6-gauge railroad connecting Mosel with Thum, located 3 km east of Schlunzig. The structure was a pre-fabricated concrete slab bridge whose piers had a semi-triangular shape, typical of Communist-era bridges built prior to 1989.
During the time of the bridge’s demolition and the preparation for the opening of the cable-stayed bridge, commuters will have the choice of using the Motorway 4 to Meerane and then Highway B93 to Zwickau or the B175 from Glauchau to Mosel via Niederschindmaas before joining the B93 at the Volkswagen Company exit.
Come time of the grand opening of the Schlunzig Cable-Stayed Bridge at the end of May, weather permitting, the Zwickau Mulde will have another suspension bridge added to the list of bridges of its type. The river in known to have over a dozen suspension and cantilever bridges- both past and present between Zwickau and Wurzen, including the Paradiesbrücke, the suspension bridge at Rochsburg, two suspension bridges at Rochlitz, the cantilever pedestrian span at Lunzenau and the suspension bridge in Grimma. With the new cable-stayed bridge at Schlunzig, it will attract more tourists, photographers and bridge enthusiasts to not only the village itself, but also to the region Glauchau-Zwickau as well as the along the river. A big plus for the region.
With 2019 and the second decade of the third millennium over and done, we’re now going to reflect on the key events in the area of historic bridges and feature some head-shakers, prayers, but also some Oohs and Aahs, jumps of joy and sometimes relief. Since 2011, I’ve presented the Author’s Choice Awards to some of the bridges and bridge stories that deserve at least some recognition from yours truly directly. Some of the bridges from this edition are also candidates in their respective categories for the Bridgehunter Awards.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the winners of the Author’s Choice Awards in their respective categories starting with the unexpected finds:
Best Historic Bridge Find (International):
2019 was the year of unique bridge finds around the globe, and it was very difficult to determine which bridge should receive the Author’s Choice Prize. Therefore the prize is being shared by two bridges- one in Germany in the state of Saxony and one in Great Britain in the city of Bristol.
Rosenstein Bridge in Zwickau (Saxony), Germany:
Our first best historic bridge find takes us to the city of Zwickau and an unknown historic bridge that had been sitting abandoned for decades but was discovered in 2019. The Rosenstein Bridge spans a small creek between the suburb of Oberplanitz and the bypass that encircles Zwickau on the west side and connects Werdau with Schneeberg. The bridge is a stone arch design and is around 200 years old. It used to serve a key highway between the Vogtland area to the west and the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) to the south and east, transporting minerals and wood along the main road. It later served street traffic until its abandonment. The name Rosenstein comes from the rock that was used for the bridge. The rock changes the color to red and features its rose-shaped design. A perfect gift that is inexpensive but a keeper for your loved one.
Close-up of the bridge’s tubular railings. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Brunel Swivel Bridge in Bristol, UK:
The other bridge that shares this honor is That Other Bridge. Located in Bristol, England, the Swivel Bridge is very hard to find, for the structure is underneath the Plimsol Bridge, both spanning the River Avon. While Bristol is well known for its chain suspension bridge, built over 150 years ago and spans the deep gorge of the Avon, the Swivel Bridge, a cast iron girder swing span, is the oldest known bridge in the city and one of the oldest swing bridges remaining in the world, for it is 170 years old and one of the first built by I.K. Brunel- the suspension bridge was the last built by the same engineer before his death. Therefore, the Swivel Bridge is known as Brunel’s Other (Significant) Bridge. The Swivel is currently being renovated.
“S-Bridges” were one of the oldest bridge types built in the US, featuring multiple spans of stone or concrete arches that are put together in an S-shape. It was good for horse and buggy 200-years ago, especially as many existed along the National Road. They are however not suitable for today’s traffic, which is why there are only a handful left. The Fox Run Bridge in Ohio, as documented by Satolli Glassmeyer of History in Your Backyard, is one of the best examples of only a few of these S-bridges left in the country.
Royal Springs Bridge in Kentucky:
The runner-up in this category goes to the oldest and most forgotten bridge in Kentucky, the Royal Springs Bridge. While one may not pay attention to it because of its design, plus it carries a busy federal highway, one may forget the fact that it was built in 1789, which makes it the oldest bridge in the state. It was built when George Washington became president and three years before it even became a state. That in itself puts it up with the likes of some of Europe’s finest bridges.
We had just as many bonehead stories as bridge finds this year. But a couple of stories do indeed stand out for these awards. Especially on the international level for they are all but a travesty, to put it mildly.
Tournai Bridge in Belgium:
Sometimes, bigger is better. Other times less means more. In the case of the senseless demolition of the Pont des Trours (Bridge of Tears) spanning the River Scheldt in Tournai, Belgium for the purpose of widening and deepening the river to allow for ships to sail to the River Sienne from the Atlantic, one has to question the economic impact of using the boat to get to Paris, let alone the cultural impact the demolition had on the historic old town. The bridge was built in 1290 and was the only bridge of its kind in the world. Its replacement span will resemble an McDonald’s M-shape pattern. In this case, less means more. Smaller ships or more trains to ship goods means better for the river (and its historic crossings) as well as the historic city. In short: Less means more.
Runner-up: Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) in Saxony.
Residents wanted to save the bridge. There was even a group wanting to save the bridge. The politicians and in particular, the Saxony Ministry of Transportation and Commerce (LASUV) didn’t. While the 150-year old stone arch bridge over the Zwickau Mulde near Aue was the largest and oldest standing in western Saxony and was not in the way of its replacement- making it a candidate for a bike and pedestrian crossing, LASUV and the politicians saw it as an eyesore. While those interested wanted to buy the bridge at 150,000 Euros. Dresden wanted 1.7 million Euros– something even my uncle from Texas, a millionaire himself, would find as a rip-off. Supporters of the demolition are lucky that the bridge is not in Texas, for they would’ve faced a hefty legal battle that would’ve gone to the conservative-laden Supreme Court. The bridge would’ve been left as is. But it’s Saxony and many are scratching their heads as to why the demo against the will of the people- without even putting it to a referendum- happened in the first place. As a former member of the Friends of the Rechenhausbrücke, I’m still shaking my head and asking “Why?”
This story brings out the true meaning of “Half-ass”. The Gregon Street Overpass, which carries the Norfolk and Southern Railroad (NSR) is an 80-year old stringer bridge that has a rather unique characteristic: Its vertical clearance is 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 meters). It’s notorious for ripping off truck trailers, driven by truck drivers who either didn’t see the restriction signs, traffic lights and other barriers or were unwilling to heed to the restrictions because of their dependency on their GPS device (Navi) or their simple ignorance. In October 2019, NSR wanted to raise the bridge to 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters) to reduce the collisions. The standard height of underpasses since 1973 have been 14 feet (4.3 meters). End result: the collisions have NOT decreased. Epic fail on all counts!
My suggestion to NSR and the NCDOT: If you don’t want your bridge to be a truck-eater, like with some other bridges that exist in the US, like in Davenport and Northhampton, make the area an at-grade crossing. You will do yourselves and the truck drivers a big favor.
Not far behind the winner is this runner-up. A truck driver carrying 42 tons of beans tries crossing a century-old pony truss bridge, which spans the Goose River and has a weight limit of three tons. Guess what happens next and who got short-changed? The bridge had been listed on the National Register because of its association with Fargo Bridge and Iron and it was the oldest extant in the county. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt but it shows that he, like others, should really take a math course before going on the road again.
This one gets an award for not only a spectacular disaster that destroyed a multiple Bailey Truss- as filmed in its entirety- but also for the swiftest reply in rebuilding the bridge in order to reopen a key highway. Bailey trusses have known to be easily assembled, regardless of whether it’s for temporary purposes or permanent. Cheers to the inventor of the truss as well as the New Zealand National Guard for putting the bridge back together in a hurry.
No bridge is safe when it comes to flash flooding. Not even concrete arch bridges, as seen in this film on the century-old Chania Bridge in Greece. Flash floods undermined the bridge’s piers and subsequentially took out the multiple-span closed spandrel arch bridge in front of the eyes of onlookers. The photos of the destroyed bridge after the flooding was even more tragic. Good news is that the bridge is being rebuilt to match that of the original span destroyed. But it will never fully replace the original, period.
This category was a real toss-up, for the US went through a series of what is considered one of the biggest wrath of natural disasters on record. In particular, massive amounts of snowfall, combined with extreme temperatures resulted in massive flooding which devastated much of the Midwest during the first five months of the year. The hardest hit areas were in Nebraska, Iowa and large parts of Missouri. There, large chunks of ice took out even the strongest and youngest of bridges along major highways- the most viewed was the bridge near Spencer, Nebraska, where ice jams combined with flooding caused both the highway bridge as well as the dam nearby to collapse. The highway bridge was only three decades old. Even historic truss bridges, like the Sargent Bridge in Custer County were no match for the destruction caused by water and ice. While the region has dried up, it will take months, if not years for communities and the infrastructure to rebuild to its normal form. Therefore this award goes out to the people affected in the region.
Runner-up: Close-up footage of the destruction of the Brunswick Railroad Bridge.
Railroad officials watched helplessly, as floodwaters and fallen trees took out a major railroad bridge spanning the Grand River near Brunswick, Kansas. The railroad line is owned by Norfolk and Southern. The bridge was built in 1916 replacing a series of Whipple truss spans that were later shipped to Iowa for use on railroad lines and later roads. One of them still remains. The bridge has since been rebuilt; the line in use again.
The world’s first cast iron bridge got an extensive makeover in a two-year span, where the cast iron parts were repaired and conserved, new decking was put in and the entire bridge was painted red, which had been the original color when the bridge was completed in 1791. The jewel of Shropshire, England is back in business and looks just like new.
King Ludwig Railroad Bridge in Kempten, Germany:
The world’s lone double-decker truss bridge made of wood, received an extensive rehabilitation, where the spans were taken off its piers, the wooden parts repaired and/or replaced before being repainted, the piers were rebuilt and then the spans were put back on and encased with a wooden façade. A bit different than in its original form, the restored structure features LED lighting which shows the truss work through the façade at night.
Longfellow Bridge in Boston:
This multiple-span arch bridge with a draw bridge span underwent a five-year reconstruction project where every aspect of the bridge was restored to its former glory, including the steel arches, the 11 masonry piers, the abutments, the four tall towers at the main span and lastly the sculptures on the bridge. Even the trophy room underneath the bridge was rebuilt. All at a whopping cost of $306 million! It has already received numerous accolades including one on the national level. This one was worth the international recognition because of the hours of toil needed to make the structure new again.
The runner-up is a local favorite but one that sets an example of how truss bridge restoration can work. The Winona Bridge went through an eight-year project where a new span carrying westbound traffic was built. The cantilever truss span was then covered as it went through a makeover that featured new decking, sandblasting and repairing the trusses and lastly, painting it. To put the icing on the cake, new LED lighting was added. The bridge now serves eastbound traffic and may be worth considering as a playboy for other restorations of bridges of its kind, including the Black Hawk Bridge, located down the Mississippi.
And with that, we wrap up the Author’s Choice Awards for 2019. Now comes the fun part, which is finding out which bridges deserve international honors in the eyes of the voters. Hence, the Bridgehunter’s Awards both in written form as well as in podcast. Stay tuned! 🙂
Century-old trestle to be removed with no plans for a new structure. Abandoned since the 1980s
LEIPZIG, GERMANY- With close to 600,000 inhabitants, Leipzig is the fastest growing city in Germany, with the population expected to reach 1 million by 2030. And with the growth comes cracks in the city’s infrastructure that are an average of 50 years old and in dire need of replacement. This includes numerous bridges that are even two times older than some of Leipzig’s key federal and state highways, and they have existed since the 1980s.
With many older bridges, come some that have been abandoned for years and its decaying process has presented a hazard for pedestrians and motorists. This is where the Lunabahn Trestle comes in. This bridge is located at Auensee, in the northwestern part of Leipzig, sandwiched between the Rivers White Elster and Neue Luppe. The trestle is made of concrete and has 17 spans in total. The piers are arched and have a semi, A-shaped design. Built in 1914, the trestle was originally used for the 6-gauge rail line known as the Lunabahn, which connected the main restaurant with the main entrance to the Park Am Auensee (at present-day Gustav-Esche-Strasse) and ending at the beach (near present-day Elsteraue). The trestle basically dissected the northwestern part of the lake. The line continued until the mid-1930s, when the bridge was converted to pedestrian and car use. The line would later be revitalized in 1951 and to this day, it encircles the entire lake. The trestle lost its functionality by the 1980s and was subsequentially closed to all traffic before the Fall of the Wall in 1989.
After being abandoned for almost four decades and having lost its functionality, the City of Leipzig voted to tear down the structure, which began on January 6th. Crews will remove the ca. 160-meter long bridge at a cost of 150,000 Euros. The project is expected to be completed by February 14th. The bridge’s deteriorating condition made it impossible to consider the option of restoring the structure for pedestrian use. There are no plans for a new bridge at this current site. For photographers and bridge enthusiasts, Leipzig will lose a unique structure, whose fitting background with the natural surroundings of Auensee will be missed and whose historic association with the Lunabahn will be gone forever. One of the close-ups of the photo can be seen via link here.
Links to the bridge, the lake and the historic railroad can be found below:
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.