2020 Author’s Choice Awards- Mr Smith takes his picks

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.com

And now, before we announce the winners of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards, I have a few favorites that I hand-picked that deserve international recognition. 2020 was a year like no other. Apart from head-scratcher stories of bridges being torn down, we had an innummeral number of natural disasters that were impossible to follow, especially when it came to bridge casualties. We had some bonehead stories of people downing bridges with their weight that was 10 times as much as what the limit was and therefore they were given the Timmy for that (click on the link that will lead you to the picture and the reason behind it.) But despite this we also had a wide selection of success stories in connection with historic bridge preservation. This include two rare historic bridges that had long since disappeared but have now reappeared with bright futures ahead of them. It also include the in-kind reconstruction of historic bridges, yet most importantly, they also include historic bridges that were discovered and we had never heard of before- until last year.

And so with that in mind, I have some personal favorites that deserve international recognition- both in the US as well as international- awarded in six categories, beginning with the first one:

Best example of reused bridge:

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The Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge in South Dakota:

One of three hybrid Thacher through truss bridges left in the US, the bridge used to span the Big Sioux River near Castlewood until it disappeared from the radar after 1990. Many pontists, including myself, looked for it for three decades until my cousin, Jennifer Heath, found it at the Threshing Grounds in Twin Brooks. Apparently the product of the King Bridge Company, built in 1894, was relocated to this site in 1998 and restored for car use, in-kind. Still being used but we’re still scratching our heads as to how it managed to disappear from our radar for a very long time…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/castlewood-bridge-in-a-new-home-on-the-threshing-grounds/

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International:

Plaka Bridge in Greece:

Built in 1866, this bridge was unique for its arch design. It was destroyed by floods in 2015 but it took five years of painstaking efforts to put the bridge back together again, finding and matching each stone and reinforcing it with concrete to restore it like it was before the tragedy. Putting it back together again like a puzzle will definitely make for a puzzle game using this unique bridge as an example. Stay tuned.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/02/19/plaka-bridge-in-greece-restored/

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Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau:

While it has not been opened yet for the construction of the South Park Gardens is progressing, this four-span arch bridge connecting the Park with the Castle Complex was completely restored after 2.5 years of rebuilding the 17th Century structure which had been abandoned for four decades. Keeping the outer arches, the bridge was rebuilt using a skeletal structure that was later covered with concrete. The stones from the original bridge was used as a façade. When open to the public in the spring, one will see the bridge that looks like the original but has a function where people can cross it. And with the skeleton, it will be around for a very long time.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/update-on-the-hirschgrundbrucke-in-glauchau-saxony/

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Worst example of reused bridge:

Northern Avenue Bridge in Boston

This one definitely deserves a whole box of tomatoes. Instead of rehabilitating the truss bridge and repurposing it for bike and public transportation use, designers unveiled a new bridge that tries to mimic the old span but is too futuristic. Watch the video and see for yourself. My take: Better to build a futuristic span, scrap the historic icon and get it over with.

Link: https://www.northernavebridgebos.com/about & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcWEvjdsAUQ

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International:

Demolishing the Pilchowicki Bridge in Poland for a Motion Picture Film-

Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruz should both be ashamed of themselves. As part of a scene in the film, Mission Impossible, this historic bridge, spanning a lake, was supposed to be blown up, then rebuilt mimicking the original structure. The bridge had served a railroad and spans a lake. The plan was tabled after a huge international cry to save the structure. Nevertheless, the thwarted plan shows that America has long been famous for: Using historic places for their purpose then redo it without thinking about the historic value that was lost in the process.

Links: https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/07/24/concern-over-reports-that-historic-bridge-in-poland-will-be-blown-up-for-tom-cruise-film/ & https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/so-long-tom-historic-bridge-saved-from-tom-cruise-bomb-14980

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Salvageable Mentioned:

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Okoboji Truss Bridge at Parks Marina in Iowa-

A one of a kind Thacher pony truss, this bridge went from being a swing bridge crossing connecting East and West Lake Okoboji, to a Little Sioux River crossing that was eventually washed out by flooding in 2011, to the storage bin, and now, to its new home- Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji. The owner had one big heart to salvage it. Plus it was in pristine condition when it was relocated to its now fourth home. A real winner.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/the-okoboji-bridge-at-parks-marina/

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International:

Dömitz Railroad Bridge between Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pommerania in Germany-

World War II had a lasting after-effect on Germany’s infrastructure as hundreds of thousands of historic bridges were destroyed, either through bombs or through Hitler’s policies of destroying every single crossing to slow the advancement of the Allied Troops. Yet the Dömitz Railroad Bridge, spanning the River Elbe, represents a rare example of a bridge that survived not only the effects of WWII, but also the East-West division that followed, as the Mecklenburg side was completely removed to keep people from fleeing to Lower Saxony. All that remains are the structures on the Lower Saxony side- preserved as a monument symbolizing the two wars and the division that was lasting for almost a half century before 1990.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/domitz-railroad-bridge/

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Spectacular Bridge Disaster

Forest Fires along the West Coast- 2020 was the year of disasters in a literal sense of the word. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a near standstill, 2020 was the year where records were smashed for natural disasters, including hurricanes and in particular- forest fires. While 20% of the US battled one hurricane after another, 70% of the western half of the country, ranging from the West Coast all the way to Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas dealt with record-setting forest fires, caused by drought, record-setting heatwaves and high winds. Hardest hit area was in California, Washington and even Oregon. Covered bridges and other historic structures took a massive hit, though some survived the blazes miraculously. And even some that did survive, presented some frightening photo scenes that symbolizes the dire need to act on climate change and global warming before our Earth becomes the next Genesis in Star Trek.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/great-western-fires-destroy-iconic-historic-bridges/  &  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/catastrophic-inferno-hits-western-united-states-photos-noble-reporters-worlds-iconic-news-media-site/  & https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/no-comment-nr-2-the-great-california-fire/

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Bonehead Story:

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Demolition of the Historic Millbrook Bridge in Illinois-

Inaction has consequences. Indifference has even more painful consequences. Instead of fixing a crumbling pier that could have left the 123-year old, three-span through truss bridge in tact, Kendall County and the Village of Millbrook saw dollar signs in their eyes and went ahead with demolishing the entire structure for $476,000, coming out of- you guessed it- our taxpayer money. Cheapest way but at our expense anyway- duh!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/historic-millbrook-bridge-demolished/

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Planned Demolition of the Bridges of Westchester County, New York-

While Kendall County succeeded in senselessly tearing down the last truss bridge in the county, Westchester County is planning on tearing down its remaining through truss bridges, even though the contract has not been let out just yet. The bridges have been abandoned for quite some time but they are all in great shape and would make for pedestrian and bike crossings if money was spent to rehabilitate and repurpose them. Refer to the examples of the Calhoun and Saginaw County historic bridges in Michigan, as well as those restored in Winneshiek, Fayette, Madison, Johnson, Jones and Linn Counties in Iowa.  Calling Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/the-bridges-of-westchester-county-new-york/

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Collapse of Westphalia Bridge due to overweight truck-

To the truck driver who drove a load over the bridge whose weight was four times the weight limit, let alone bring down the 128-year old product of the Kansas City Bridge Company: It’s Timmy time! “One, …. two,….. three! DUH!!!!”  The incident happened on August 17th 2020 and the beauty of this is, upon suggesting headache bars for protecting the bridge, county engineers claimed they were a liability. LAME excuse!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/18/truck-driver-narrowly-escapes-when-missouri-bridge-collapses-truckers-4-truckers/

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International:

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Waldcafé Bridge in Lunzenau, Saxony-

Located near the Göhren Viaduct in the vicinity of Burgstädt and Mittweida, this open-spandrel stone arch bridge used to span the Zwickau Mulde and was a key accessory to the fourth tallest viaduct in Saxony. Yet it was not valuable enough to be demolished and replaced during the year. The 124-year old bridge was in good shape and had another 30 years of use left. This one has gotten heads scratching.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/waldcafe-bridge-in-gohren-to-be-replaced/

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Collapse of Bridge in Nova Scotia due to overweight truck-

It is unknown which is more embarrassing: Driving a truck across a 60+ year old truss bridge that is scheduled to be torn down or doing the same and being filmed at the same time. In any case, the driver got the biggest embarrassment in addition to getting the Timmy in French: “Un,…. deux,…… toi! DUH!!!” The incident happened on July 8th.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/historic-bridge-in-nova-scotia-collapses-because-of-truck-reminder-to-obey-weight-and-height-limits/

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Spectacular Bridge Find:

Root Bridges in Meghalaya State in India-

Consisting of vine bridges dating back hundreds of years, this area has become a celebrity since its discovery early last year. People in different fields of work from engineers to natural scientists are working to figure out how these vined bridges were created and how they have maintained themselves without having been altered by mankind. This region is one of the World’s Top Wonders that should be visited, regardless whether you are a pontist or a natural scientist.

Link:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/living-root-bridges-in-the-tropical-forests-of-meghalaya-state-india/

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Puente de Occidente in Colombia-

This structure deserves special recognition not only because it turned 125 years old in 2020. The bridge is the longest of its kind on the South American continent and it took eight years to build. There’s an interesting story behind this bridge that is worth the read…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/1895-this-suspension-bridge-in-colombia-is-still-the-second-longest-span-of-its-kind-on-the-continent/

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The Bridges of Schwerin, Germany-

For bridge tours on the international front, I would recommend the bridges of Schwerin. It features seven iron bridges, three unique modern bridges, a wooden truss span, a former swing span and  a multiple span arch bridge that is as old as the castle itself, Schwerin’s centerpiece and also home of the state parliament. This was a big steal for the author as the day trip was worth it.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/03/the-bridges-of-schwerin/

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USA:

Thomas Viaduct in Maryland-

Little is written about the multiple-span stone built in 1835, except that it’s still the oldest functioning viaduct of its kind in the US and one stemming from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad era.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/thomas-viaduct-in-maryland/

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The Bridge Daheim in New York-

Geoff Hobbs brought the bridge to the attention of the pontist community in July 2020, only to find that the bridge belonged to a mansion that has a unique history. As a bonus, the structure is still standing as with the now derelict mansion.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/mystery-bridge-nr-132-the-bridge-daheim/

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The Bridges of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana-

The Proving Grounds used to be a military base that covered sections of four counties in Indiana. The place is loaded with history, as not only many buildings have remained largely in tact but also the Grounds’ dozen bridges or so. Satolli Glassmeyer provided us with a tour of the area and you can find it in this film.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/the-bridges-of-jefferson-proving-grounds-in-indiana-hyb/

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Now that the favorites have been announced and awarded, it is now the voter’s turn to select their winners, featured in nine categories of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. And for that, we will go right, this way…… =>

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Historic Bridge in Minnesota for sale- Any takers

Petersen Bridge
Photo by John Weeks III

NEW ULM, MINNESOTA (USA)- Officials from the Brown County Highway Department have a historic bridge for sale and for those interested, all you need is a plan to present and a dollar to pay. The Petersen Bridge spans the Minnesota River, carrying Rennville County Highway 3 and Brown County Highway 8. It’s approximately 7 miles SE of Franklin and 20 river miles NW of New Ulm. Also known as the Eden Bridge, it features a two-span Warren pony truss bridge with riveted connections. It was built in 1918 and has a total length of 250 feet- the largest span is 81 feet. The bridge has been considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

In a statement by Brown County:

Because the bridge has a visually-low profile (being a pony truss rather than a through-truss), and because there is flexibility to omit approach spans as needed, the bridge could fit well into any number of urban or rural settings

The bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places but needs to be replaced with a wider structure. The county hopes to find a new owner who can reuse the bridge on a trail, in a park, or in a similar setting.

The bridge has been closed to traffic since 2017 and work is underway to replace the historic bridge with a modern one, with the project set to begin later this year at the earliest.

Those interested in purchasing and repurposing the bridge can obtain a package by clicking here. It includes the contact information for the Brown County Highway Engineer in case there are questions or if you are interested in taking the bridge.

The deadline for all entries is June 30th, 2021 at 4pm local time. More information on the bridge can be found via bridgehunter.com, here as well as John Weeks website, here.

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Note: While you are at it, there is a tour guide on the bridges of New Ulm which may be of interest of you. Have a look by clicking here. An interesting story on New Ulm can be found in the Flensburg Files by clicking here.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 124

Photo by James Baughn

After a tumultous week, learning about the sudden passing of fellow pontist, James Baughn and preparing for a nation-wide lockdown in Germany, scheduled for next week, we’re going to feature one of James’ greatest bridge photos. His favorite historic is the Appleton Bridge, a wrought iron bridge built in 1879 and located at the Cape Girardeau and Perry County border. Washed away by floodwaters in 1982, the bridge was rebuilt in 2005 and has since been a fixture to the historic town of Old Appleton. The bridge is decorated annually and James caught a night photo of the structure in 2012 when the entire structure was lit and a Christmas tree was on the decking. It was one of James’ favorite bridges and he talked a lot about that and other structures in and around the region where he lived. Information and history of the bridge can be found here.

To answer last week’s Pic of the Week Question of where this bridge is located, the one I photographed, this was a covered bridge located in the village of Cantrill in Van Buren County, Iowa. The village has two covered bridges located around the pond at the city park. This area is lit every year for the holiday occasion, including 2014, when my family and I visited the area, during our US visit to my parents and brother in Minnesota.

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Despite the tragedy this week, the ballots for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards are finished and voting has taken place. Between now and January 22nd, you can vote for your favorite bridges in each of the four ballots, totalling nine categories.

There are four different ballots for you to vote.

Part one is Best Bridge Photo: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/2020-bridgehunter-awards-best-bridge-photo/

Part two: Bridge Tour Guide (US/International): https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-2-tour-guide/

Part three: Mystery Bridge and Lifetime Achievement: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-3-mystery-bridge-and-lifetime-achievement/

Part four: Best example of restored hisoric bridge, bridge of the year and best kept secret: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-4-bridge-of-the-year-best-example-of-a-restored-historic-bridge-and-best-kept-secret-individual-bridge/

Each candidate has a link you can click on that features stories and photos of each bridge and each candidate. Due to circumstances that are unexpected (see Ballot Part 4) the voting has been extended to January 22nd and the winners to be announced on the 23rd.To honor James Baughn, there will be some changes to the upcoming Bridgehunter Awards for 2021. The announcement is expected in January. Already a fundraiser is being set up for a memorial fund honoring James; click here for details. Plans are to keep bridgehunter.com running but if you have any questions or to wish to help in any way, the contact details are in the link.

Historic Cobban Bridge to be Given Away for Relocation: Any Takers

112-year old historic bridge to be given away- but must be relocated.

JIM FALLS/ CHIPPEWA FALLS/ CORNEL, WISCONSIN- In connection with the forthcoming bridge replacement project, officials of Chippewa County, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) are giving away a historic bridge that was once part of Wisconsin’s heritage but is in need of a new home. Between now and October 9th, bids are being taken to adopt the historic Cobban Truss Bridge, spanning the Chippewa River between Cornell and Jim Falls.

The bridge features two identical Pennsylvania through truss spans- each with spans of 241 feet. The connections are pinned, the portal bracings are 3-rhombus Howe lattice with angled heels and the bracings are V-laced. It is the last Pennsylvania truss bridge remaining in Wisconsin and the last two-span bridge of the above-mentioned type in the United States. It is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Furthermore, the bridge won the 2017 Ammann Awards in the category Bridge of the Year. The Cobban Bridge was built in 1908 but was relocated here in 1916. A detailed story about the bridge and its current situation, written by the author, can be found here.

County Officials, SHPO and WisDOT are willing to give away the bridge- either one or both spans- for free. The catch: The bridge must be relocated to a new home and most importantly, the historic integrity of the structure must be maintained at its new home. The offer for adoption is available to all interested parties, including private citizens, nonprofit groups or local units of government. Proposals must be made to the SHPO and WisDOT but they must follow guidelines specified in an information packet that is available by contacting Matt Thornsen at WisDOT.

Requests for information packets must be submitted by no later than October 9. Requests submitted after that date will not be considered. Proposals will be due 60 days from the receipt of the information packet. The recipient of the Cobban Bridge must agree to relocate the structure to a suitable location and assume all future legal and financial responsibility for it. The reason: work to replace the bridge with a new structure at its original location is scheduled to begin in 2022 with a new structure set to open by 2023.

Work and repairs on bridges eligible for the National Register of Historic Places must be made according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings and are subject to approval and review by WisDOT and the SHPO. Proposals will be selected based on the feasibility of the relocation and funding plan. Grants are available for the bridge if needed. Ownership of the bridge will be transferred at no cost after review and approval.

If you are interested in adopting the bridge and have a new home for the structure, please contact Matt Thornsen at WisDOT, using the following contact details below:

Wisconsin DOT c/o Matthew Thornsen

718 W. Clairemont Ave.

Eau Claire, WI, 54701

E-mail is also acceptable and the address:

E-mail: matthew.thornsen@dot.wi.gov.

Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge Available for Reuse: Any Takers?

Photo by James Baughn

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MANKATO, MINNESOTA-  The longest bowstring arch bridge in the United States and second longest in the world is available for reuse. The question is who has some ideas for the structure?  The Minnesota Department of Transportation  is soliciting interest in the purchase and relocation of the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, which had spanned the Le Seuer River on Township Rd. 190 south of Mankato between now and August 31st.

The bridge was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company under the direction of John Mahowald in 1873 and was originally named the Yaeger Bridge, after the farmer George Yaeger. The 189 foot long bowstring arch span served traffic until its closure in 1989. Crews lifted the span off its crumbling limestone piers on 7 February of this year and carefully dismantled the structure; the pieces are in storage and the new owner that acquires it will have a herculean challenge of not only putting it back together again but also restoring it for recreational reuse.

According to information on the MnDoT website, the bridge must be rehabilitated to meet historic standards as stated in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Projects. The restoration project must comply to the guidelines of both MnDOT and the Federal Highway and Safety Administration. Currently, costs for reconstructing and restoring the historic bridge is estimated to be at approximately $1.5 million.  Fortunately, federal funding is available to cover 80% of the costs for the whole project, which means 20% must to brought up by the party owning the bridge.  The bridge has currently been delisted from the National Register, yet it can be re-listed once the structure is reconstructed and reopened for use.

Letters of intent are currently being collected by cities as well as county and state agencies, with cities having 5000 of less inhabitants being required to have a county sponsor. At present two suitors are in the running, both cities and both outside Blue Earth County, where the bridge once stood for almost a century and a half: Fergus Falls in Otter Tail County and North Mankato in Nicollet County. Both plan to have the structure span a body of water and be used as a pedestrian bridge. It is unknown who else is interested in acquiring the structure at present.

If you are interested in acquiring the bridge, you should click onto link that will usher you to MnDOT’s Historic Bridge website. There, information, contact details and applications are available. The Letter of Intent is to be submitted by no later than 31 August. Applications for the bridge must then be filled out and the deadline is 30 September.

We have seen many bowstring arch bridges being reused for various recreational purposes. The Freeport and Eureka Bridges in Winneshiek County, Iowa are now picnic areas in parks.  Springfield in Arkansas and Paper Millin Delaware are now pedestrian crossings. The interest in reusing the Kern Bridge as a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists is strong among those in Minnesota and beyond who wish to see her in action again. The question is where will it go and how will it be reused?

The story of the bridge’s fate is unraveling and we’ll keep you posted……

 

BHC 10th anniversary logo1

Newsflyer 20 June, 2020

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

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To listen to the podcast, click onto this link: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-21-June–2020-efngcj

 

Headlines:

Bridge Restoration Firm to Close Down

Information on Workin Bridges (including statement):

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FWorkinBridges%2Fposts%2F3015290328508224&width=500

Website: https://www.workinbridges.org/

 

 

Virginia’s Historic Truss Bridges on the Endangered List

Link:  https://www.pecva.org/maps-and-resources/press/1560-historic-truss-bridges-named-among-virginia-s-most-endangered-historic-places

Guide on Virginia’s HBs: https://de.slideshare.net/pecva/virginias-historic-bridges

Top Rankings (bridgehunter.com): https://bridgehunter.com/va/rankings/

 

The Pursuit to Rename a Historic Bridge in Alabama

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/al/dallas/2273/

Article 1: https://www.fox5dc.com/news/thousands-sign-petition-to-rename-historic-selma-bridge-after-rep-john-lewis

Article 2: https://www.wsfa.com/2020/06/16/rep-terri-sewell-joins-call-rename-edmund-pettus-bridge/

 

Covered Bridge in Danger of Collapse

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/ky/fleming/bh36285/

Article: https://maysville-online.com/top-stories/181686/graton-looking-at-options-to-save-bridge

 

Historic Bridge in Trier, Germany to be Rehabilitated

Article:  https://www.volksfreund.de/region/trier-trierer-land/kaiser-wilhelm-bruecke-trier-ist-vom-6-bis-20-juli-baustelle-mit-sperrungen_aid-51707655

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiser-Wilhelm-Br%C3%BCcke_(Trier)

 

Hochdonn Viaduct in Schleswig-Holstein to be Repainted

Article: https://www.shz.de/nachrichten/meldungen/2022-beginnt-sanierung-von-2-2-kilometern-bruecke-mit-dem-pinsel-id28648037.html

Bridge Tour: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/the-bridges-along-the-baltic-north-sea-canal-part-i-the-grand-canal/

 

A pair of Historic Bridges discovered in southern Germany

Soda Bridge in Bavaria: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/mystery-bridge-nr-130-the-motorway-bridge-to-nowhere/

Arch Bridge near Lahr: https://www.bo.de/lokales/lahr/historische-bruecke-in-heiligenzell-entdeckt

 

Plus an important address about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

bhc george floyd

 

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 102

jena tunnel

PW

Our 102nd Pic of the Week tells a story of how a bridge became a tunnel and how no one but the biker could tell of the change.  This bridge-converted-to-tunnel is located in Jena, in the eastern German state of Thuringia and spans Ammerbach Creek, which runs through the southern suburbs of Ammerbach and Winzerla before it empties into the River Saale near the Ernst-Abbe-Sportsstadium.  It was constructed during the same time as the railroad that connected Weimar with Gera with a regional hub station at Jena-Göschwitz- namely 1876. The stone arch span is no longer than 20 meters and has a height of six meters.

So how was the bridge „converted“ into a tunnel?

This was in connection with the reconstruction of the rail line between Weimar and Jena-Göschwitz and it had to do with a nearby bridge that was built in 1935, spanning Kahlaische Strasse, which was a combination of car and tram services. Because of structural instability due to age and the low clearance on the street, workers built a new bridge off site that was a meter higher and twice as long as the main span of 30 meters over the street. This does not include a tunnel on the west side of the street.  The entire structure was then torn down, and the new span slid into place.

At the same time, this short-span crossing in the picture was rehabilitated and an additional one meter of railroad bedding was added in order to smooth the grading between the two bridges. A double-concrete railing was added on each side to allow for electrical wires to run through the top railing and to capture the falling rocks by the bottom railing.

This whole conversion and nearby bridge replacement happened from the fall of 2016 until the middle part of 2017 and resulted in detours of all kinds, from rail traffic all the way to the bike trail, which the now-converted tunnel crosses.  Living in Winzerla for 15 out of the 20 years I spent in Jena, one can find the detours rather annoying unless you know some short cuts and detours to the city center by car or bike. But this was one that was part of the mega-project on several routes through Jena that brought 70% of the city’s total  traffic to a  standstill and increased the blood pressure of every driver and biker by an average of 45%! It was a bit over the top and still to this day, management could have been better.

In either case, with the water under the bridge, one can still enjoy this scenic view of the tunnel, now covered with vegetation after a a couple years of bare concrete and rock. Like the bridge, this tunnel comes up fast when you bike between the city center and the south of Jena, and one cannot see it right away- unless you make a stop, like I did with my family. This photo was taken last year, in 2019. And the weather was perfect for the pose. The original arch is still there, covered by bushes and trees. However, it is obvious that the structure has been converted into a tunnel.  😉  Nevertheless, one can enjoy the scenery with just the trains passing by. A real treat when you bike through Jena and along the River Saale.  🙂

 

bhc fast fact new

The Holzlandbahn provides direct connection between Dresden and Düsseldorf via Chemnitz, Glauchau, Gera, Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. While regional trains run on this route mostly, plans are in the making to electrify the railline completely so that InterCity trains can use them by 2030.  More information on the line’s history can be found here.

 

bhc george floyd

The Bridges of Westchester County, New York

Goldens Bridge. Photo taken by Kent Findley in 2017

bhc tour guide

New York City and its boroughs are well known for their iconic crossings which have stood the test of time. When people think of the largest city in the US, the first bridges to come to mind are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges along the East River, the Triborough Bridges and the structures built by Othmar H. Ammann, including the Bronx White Stone, Bayonne, George Washington and the Verrazano Narrows, the last of which is still the longest suspension bridge in the US.

Yet going north away from New York is Westchester County. If there is one county that has a wide array of historic bridges spanning different bodies of water in the state, Westchester would be in the top five in the state. It’s well known for two of the crossings over the Hudson River- the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017).  Little do people realize is that the county has several bodies of water where one can find many historic and unique crossings scattered all over the place. For starters, northeast of the Cuomo Bridge is Rockefellar State Park, where as many as six stone arch bridges spanning the Pocantico River can be found within a five mile radius of each other. There’s also the Croton River, a major source of water for the New York City area. There one can find a large batch of bridges along the river, including those along the New Croton Reservoir, like the AM Vets Memorial Bridge, Gate House Bridge and North COuntry Trailway. Also included in the mix are Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road Bridge at Muscoot Reservoir, which also belong to the Croton River crossings. Four historic bridges including Deans Bridge in Croton Falls round off the tour along the Croton River before the river crosses into Putnam County. As many as a dozen historic arch bridges built in the 1930s spanning historic parkways and four historic bridges along Annsville Creek round off the tour of Westchester County’s finest bridges, that feature as many as seven different bridge types and a span of over a century and a half of bridge building that started in the 1870s.

Deans Bridge. Photo taken by John Reidy in 2016

Sadly though, the number of historic bridges in Westchester County is dwindling. Many bridges that have been out of service for at least 20 years are scheduled to be removed. Three of them- Deans Bridge, Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road- are scheduled to be torn down by sometime in the next year. Each crossing has some unique characteristics and historic value that justify not only their listing on the National Register but also rehabilitation and reuse for recreational purposes. Goldens Bridge has a Whipple through truss design with Phoenix columns. Deans and Plum Brook have unique portal bracings that are rare to find in the state, let alone the US.

Yet the bridges in Westchester County are very popular among locals and one of them even produced a gallery of paintings of these unique structures. That with some facts fan be found in the Gallery of Paintings of Westchester County’s Bridges, available via link. A whole list of crossings, both past and present, can be found in the bridgehunter.com website- the link is found as well.

It is unknown whether these galleries will help preserve these structures, but by looking at them, it will bring attention to the readers who may want to visit them in the future. May through a visit and a tour will the interest in saving them for future use increase substantially, even in these hard times like we’re having at present.

Plum Brook Road Bridge. Photo by John Reidy

So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂

 

Links to Tour Guides:

Gallery courtesy of Bridgehunter.com: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/westchester/

Gallery of Bridge Paintings: https://bridgesofwestchester.wordpress.com/gallery/

Muscoot Reservoir Bridge. Photo taken by John Reidy

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Wartime Bridge Story: Lange Brücke in Forst (Lausitz)

Source: A. Savin vis wikiCommons. Photo taken in 2016

Wartime Bridge Series

Film clip

Our next Wartime Bridge takes us a bit further south in the German state of Brandenburg but this time, we continue along the Neisse River until we reach the city of Forst. With a population of 18,000 inhabitants, the city is located east of Cottbus. Prior to the Fall of the Wall, Forst was well known for its textile industry, for a large factory was located there. Yet since its closure, the city has been on the decline, falling from 31,000 inhabitants in 1945 to under 20,000 by 2011. Despite its steady decline, the city is dependent on tourism as there are several historic artefacts one can see either by bike or by car, including the historic water tower, the factory, the church and historic city center…..

…..and its bridges that span the River Neisse.

There are four bridges that connect Forst with its neighbor to the east, Zaseki on the Polish side. The village of 250 inhabitants used to be a suburb of Forst when Germany had its state of Schlesia. In fact the town was modernized beginning in 1897 to accommodate more people as many of them found jobs in the textile factory and other industrial sites nearby. Three bridges connected Forst with its former neighbor prior to 1945. Today only one of them, a six-span truss span is still in use, providing rail service to Lodz from Cottbus.

And this is where we look at the other two bridge ruins- one that used to serve vehicular traffic and one that used to serve pedestrian traffic. The pedestrian crossing had been in use from the 1920s until the end of World War II and  featured multiple spans of concrete, using Luten arches.  The other one is known as the Lange Brücke.

The Lange Brücke was a six-span concrete arch bridge with closed spandrels. The structure was built in 1921 and had a total length of 170 meters. The width was about 14 meters. It was an ornamental structure where it was decorated with fancy light posts and rail posts at the entrance to as well as on the bridge. The bridge was a predecessor to a wooden crossing, which featured multiple spans of kingpost pony trusses. It had been built in 1863, had a total length of 101 meters and was only 5.75 meters wide. In 1889, it was widened by another 3 meters. Still, because of the increase in traffic due to the expansion of Forst, the city council agreed to build a new span, which took two years to complete.

Neither of the bridges survived as well as much of the city of Forst in 1945. In the middle of February of that year, the Soviet troops had lined up on the Polish side of the River Neisse at the entry to the Lange Brücke. While it is unknown whether the Nazis had blown the structure up prior to that, it was known that Forst became under seige with bombs and bullets devastating much of the city. Half the population had perished by the time the town surrendered on 18 April, 1945; 85% of the city was in ruins.

A video showing the ruins of the Lange Brücke can be seen here. The river span was the only one imploded, while the outer spans have remained in tact. Interestingly enough, many of the ornamental relicts belonging to the bridge are still standing today.

 

 

At the present time, talks are underway to rebuild the Lange Brücke and its pedestrian counterpart in an attempt to reconnect Forst with Zasieki. The city council had originally planned to add at least two bridges to the Neisse before 2020. At present the Northern Bypass Bridge, which carries Highway 157 is the only vehicular crossing that connects Forst with Poland. The concrete structure was built only a few years ago. The railroad bridge to the south of Forst is the other crossing. It’s a contrast to the situation in Eisenhüttenstadt (see article), but there’s a ways to go. Because of the interest in a central connection via Lange Brücke, it is very likely that a new span will be built sometime in the near future, whether it is reconstructing the Lange Brücke to its original glory or building on on a new alignment and leaving the old one as a monument. The question is with not only the planning but also the finances, especially during these difficult times with the Corona Virus. But nevertheless, a new bridge will happen because of the will of the people to make it happen.

 

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As a treat, I have this video showing the ariel view of three of the four crossings connecting Forst and Zasieki. Check out the gorgeous views of the bridges from up above and up close.

 

Sources:

History of Forst: https://edoc.hu-berlin.de/bitstream/handle/18452/7622/knpv.PDF

History of the Bridge: https://www.lr-online.de/lausitz/forst/die-alte-_lange-bruecke_-36431060.html

 

BHC 10 years

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 97

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to the City of Jena in eastern Thuringia and to this bridge, the Carl Alexander Bridge, which is about seven kilometers to the north of the city. The three-span Parker through truss bridge, built in 1892, spans the River Saale and can be seen high in the air from Dornburg Castle. In either direction, one has a grandiose photographic view- towards the castle from the bridge or from the terrace of the castle. The bridge was imploded before the end of World War II but was subsequentially rebuilt afterwards. It had served traffic until a new bridge on a new alignment opened in the late 1990s and the truss bridge was converted to a bike crossing, serving the Saale Bike Trail. While living in Jena, my wife and I would always use this bridge to cross while biking along the Saale. It was a great treat even to spend a few minutes break at the bridge.

Since 2018 the bridge has undergone an extensive renovation where crews replaced the decking and some truss parts, as well as removed the pack rust on the trusses, repainted the whole structure and made repairs on the bridge’s abutments. We had an opportunity to visit the bridge during our most recent visit. Having moved away from Jena, we wanted to revisit some of the places that held lots of memories in the 19+ years we lived there. This was one of them, especially as the structure was being rehabbed.

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As you can see in the pics presented, the bridge looks like new and the rehab is almost finished. The new decking was added and paved. What is missing are the railings. Before the work began, fencing was placed on both sides of the trusses from  the inside to keep people from leaning on the railings, Much of the original railings was as rusty and corroded as the trusses themselves and therefore had to be removed for restoring.  As you can see in the tunnel shot, it looks done, but not just yet.

According to the website, the railings are not the only issue left. The bridge will be lit with LED, making it shine to its glory at night and replacing the yellow sodium lighting that had existed before but emitted an amber color of dystopia that was unwelcoming to visitors.  Furthermore, a bridge park with an info-board on the bridge’s history will be built near the parking lot on the east end. Fundraising is still being done to make this a reality. If you are interested, click here  to donate.

It is unknown when the bridge will reopen, let alone how long it will take for at least the structural work will be done before opening the bridge. Due to the Corona Virus and the restrictions that are in place, it is very unlikely that an opening ceremony will take place this year. This will buy workers more time to finish the work on their „To-Do“ List and have the bridge ready for use again. Although the bridge will re-open in silence, the celebration will most likely happen in 2021 or even 2022, when the bridge is 110 years old. In either case, like with the Corona, patience is the key. Give them time and you will be given time to use it again. Word to the wise.

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