2019 Author’s Choice Awards: Mr. Smith Picks Out His Best Ones

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-

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.

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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.

Link for more on the bridge:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/what-to-do-with-a-hb-rosenstein-brucke-in-oberplanitz-zwickau/

 

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.

Link on the Bridge and its Restoration Project:  https://www.brunelsotherbridge.org.uk/

 

 

Best Historic Bridge Find (US/Canada):

Fox Run “S” Bridge in New Concord, Ohio:

“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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/royal-springs-bridge-in-kentucky-the-oldest-the-most-forgotten-of-historic-bridges/

 

Biggest Bonehead Story:

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.

 

International:

The Pont des Trous before its demolition of the arch spans. Jean-Pol Grandmont (Collection personnelle/Private collection). [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D
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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/pont-de-trous-the-bridge-of-tears/

 

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?”

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/tearing-down-the-bockau-arch-bridge-lessons-learned-from-the-loss/

 

USA/Canada:

The “Truck-Eating” Bridge at Gregson Street before its raise to 12′-4″ in October 2019 Washuotaku [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
Gregson Street Overpass in Durham, NC:

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.

Evidence of the Durham’s Truck Eater’s carnage: http://11foot8.com/

 

Northwood Truss Bridge in Grand Forks County, ND:

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.

Links: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/too-heavy-big-rig-collapses-100-year-old-bridge-north-n1032676

Bridge info and comments: http://bridgehunter.com/nd/grand-forks/18114330/

 

Spectacular Bridge Disaster (International):

Waiho Bridge near Franz Josef, NZ before its destruction. A new bridge mimicks this span. Walter Rumsby [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D
Waiho Bridge Disaster and Rebuild in New Zealand

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/waiho-bridge-reopens/

 

Destruction of the Chania Bridge in Greece

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.

Link: https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/03/02/heartbreaking-video-of-historic-greek-bridge-in-ruins/

 

Spectacular Bridge Disaster (US):

The Great Ice Jam/Flood 2019:

Sargent Bridge in Custer County, Nebraska: One of many victims of the Great Ice Jam/Flood 2019.

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/apocalyptic-floods-destroys-bridges-in-midwest/

 

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/brunswick-railroad-bridge-washes-away/

 

Best Example of Restored Historic Bridge:

 

International:

The Coalbrookdale Iron Bridge after restoration: Tk420 [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
Coalbrookdale Bridge in the UK: 

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.

 

 

US/Canada:

Longfellow Bridge: Lstrong2k [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)%5D
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.

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longfellow_Bridge

Winona Bridge in Winona, MN:

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.

Link:  http://bridgehunter.com/mn/winona/winona/

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! 🙂

 

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Lunabahn Trestle in Leipzig to be Demolished

 

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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:

Auensee (includes information on the park railroad): https://www.leipzig.de/freizeit-kultur-und-tourismus/seen-fluesse-und-gewaesser/auensee/

Lunabahn and Trestle: http://www.auenseebahn.de/Luna-Express.htm

News on the Demolition (courtesy of LVZ- in German): https://www.lvz.de/Leipzig/Lokales/Marode-Bruecke-am-Leipziger-Auensee-wird-abgerissen

 

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Clarendon Cantilever Truss Bridge Demolished

Photo taken by Fred Garcia

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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.

 

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Newsflyer: 5 August, 2019

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Champ Clark Bridge before its replacement bridge was built. Photo taken by Steve Conro in 2012.

 

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To listen to the podcast in detail, please click here.

Articles in connection with the headlines:

Pont des Trous in Tournais. Photo taken by Jean-Pol Grandmond (wikiCommons)

Historic Bridge in Tournai (Belgium) Dating back to the 13th Century Removed

News article on the Bridge removal

Information on the City of Tournai

Flooding Destroys Historic Bridge in Yorkshire (UK), threatens Cycling World Cup

News article on the flooding

Information on the Cycling World Cup.

Anderson Bridge in Singapore: One of three bridges gazetted as national Monuments. Photo by Kensang via wikiCommons

Three historic bridges and an open park in Singapore to be declared national Monuments

News article via Strait Times

Details on the three bridges via Strait Times

Tour Guide on the Bridges of Singapore (now a candidate for the 2019 Bridgehunter  Awards in Tour Guide International).

New Harmony Bridge in Indiana Gets a New Owner: Rehabilitation and Reopening Planned

Article on the Harmony Way Bridge Act

Information on the Harmony Way Bridge via bridgehunter.com

 

Champ Clark Bridge’s replacement span open; old Bridge coming down

Information on the Bridge and replacement project

Karnin Lift Bridge as of today. Photo by Kläuser via wikiCommons

The Reactivation of the railroad line to Usedom Island (Germany) and the Karnin Lift Bridge Close to Reality

Article on the Reactivation Project

Information on the Karnin Lift Bridge

The Bridge of Asel when water levels of Lake Eder are at its lowest. Photo taken in 2017 by Hubert Beberich via wikiCommons Levels have reached even lower since this photo was taken.

Low Waters make for Discovery of Atlantis in a Lake in Hesse

Article via FFH Frankfurt

Information on Findings via Lake Eder website

 

The Future of the Meadowbrook Park Truss Bridge after the Fire of 2017:

Article (poll included)

Information on the bridge

Feel free to comment in the Comment section below

 

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BHC Newsflyer: 22 April, 2019

Nieblungenbrücke in its original form prior to World War II. Photo: WikiCommons

Podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-22-april-2019

 

Article on the news stories in detail:

Key motorway bridge in Brazil collapses after a boat collision

Key Missouri River Crossing becomes history

Key Highway crossing in Pennsylvania to be replacedIncludes PENNDOT Bridge Marketing Profile

Nieblungen Bridge in Worms (Germany) to undergo Major makeover- main span to be replaced:Profile on the Bridge via wiki

Historic Bridge in Sonoma County, California to be replaced; trusses to be incorporated into new structure.

A 130-year old champaign bottle found in the rubble of a demolished historic bridge near Naumburg

Historic bridge in Frankfurt barely escapes a bomb in the River Main: Includes information on the Iron Bridge (not Alte Brücke as mentioned) where the bomb was found and detonated- here!

A historic bridge that survived the bombings of World War II in Hamburg to get a facelift and a new location.  Information on the Freihafenelbebrücke under the Bridges of Hamburg here.

And the second longest bowstring arch bridge in the world to be dismantled and stored until a new home is found.  Includes Facebook page on Relocating and Restoring the Kern Bridge

ALSO: Information and Petition to stop President Trump’s plan to shut down the National Register of Historic Places. Deadline is 30 April.

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 40

Little Church Road Bridge WinnCo

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.

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White River Bridge at Forsyth Downed By Explosives

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Photo taken by James Baughn

FORSYTH, MISSOURI-   It was one of the most majestic historic bridges in the Bull Shoals Lake area; one of the longest along the White River; one of the favorites for the town of Forsyth, in Taney County, Missouri. Now the old historic Forsyth Bridge, a five-span, riveted Parker through truss bridge, with West Virginia-style Portal bracings, which had graced the lake for 65 years is no more. It took not more than three seconds to bring the entire bridge down on 16 October, 2018 with hundreds of locals standing by to bid the structure farewell. Several films showed the Implosion from multiple angles, two of which can be seen here:

 

Videos:

 

The Forsyth Bridge was built by the Maxwell Bridge Company in 1953, two years after the lake and dam were completed, which was designed to Control the flow of the White River and foster recreation and tourism. This bridge, together with the Theodosia Bridge in Ozark County, are the only two bridges that were built by this company. Because of its lake size, both bridges can be found in the Long Shoals Lake area, along with a few more structures, as will be seen in a tour guide coming soon. Prior to the replacement bridge being built alongside the truss bridge complex, the bridge was rated as structurally fair, meaning the bridge would have fit the requirements for being left into place. Despite being determined not eligible for listing by the National Register of Historic Places, the Forsyth Bridge was offered to the City by Missouri Department of Transportation to be used as a pedestrian crossing. The Mayor however declined MoDOT’s offer for liability reasons, which signaled the green light for demolition- the action which still has left a bitter taste in the mouths of locals, historians and preservationists who had been involved in the efforts to save the bridge, but unfortunately were left empty handed.

The demolition of the Forsysth Bridge leads to the question of the future of the other bridges in the area, for although the lake area is protected by federal law in many parts, the dismantling of regulations through the Trump Administration may lead to the opening of the area for land development, which could mean more traffic and the more likely chance of more modern bridges needed in the area. But before that was to take place, the president may need to brace himself for the “blue wave” which could take hold in November as the Democrats are poised to take Washington back from the Republicans. Should that happen, then areas like this will be left as is, and with that, the historic bridges in the area because of the rollbacks of regulations that had existed before 2017. But we will see if it happens and what it would mean to the Long Shoals Lake area.

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