BHC Newsflyer 25 March 2019

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Podcast of all the events can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-25-march-2019

News stories with details of some of the headlines mentioned in the podcast:

Flooding in the Midwest devastates everything in its path including historic bridges

Summary of the historic bridges lost here

Aden Road Bridge in Virginia restored and in use again

Summary of the rehabilitation here

Call for Papers and Registration for the Society for Industrial Archeology Conference in Chicago

Registration and other information here

Viaduct in Atlanta’s Gulch district coming down

Information on the bridge, its replacement project and the revitalization concept here

Two 1950s bridges in Markelsheim (Bavaria) and Vilkerath (NRW) being replaced

Key Rhine Bridge and Rail line between Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken to be reused?

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The Flensburg Files

Pittsburgh pays tribute to John F. Graham

 

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Jenkins Bridge Fundraiser for 23rd March

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Photo taken by Trent Huse

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WHEELERVILLE, MISSOURI- The campaign to save a historic bridge in Missouri has kicked off with a fundraiser. The Jenkins Bridge is a six-panel through truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings and pinned connections. Spanning Flat Creek south of Jenkins in Barry County, this bridge was built in 1909 by the Standard Bridge Company in Omaha and has been a place of great memories by many locals who have used the bridge for swimming/ diving as well as fishing.

The bridge has been closed since 2017 and many locals are working together with officials from Barry County to find a way to rehabilitate and reopen the bridge to traffic. Already at the starting block are the fundraisers that are underway. One of which takes place on Saturday, March 23rd.

A benefit concert, featuring the music group, Homestead Pickers, will take place at the Wheelerville Church beginning at 7:00pm. Join them for an evening of bluegrass, gospel, country music with good ole fashioned humor and entertainment by the group featuring Greg Bailey, Greg Becker, Danny Eakin, and Walt Morrison. All proceeds from the concert will go towards the newly-formed Jenkins Bridge Foundation to file the necessary documents and restoration expenses of the bridge. Aside from restoring the bridge, the group is pursuing a plan to have the structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This will be the first of many fundraisers yet to come. More details on other plans for saving the bridge will come soon, as the Chronicles has been doing an e-mail interview with members of the group and will keep you posted on the latest.  If you wish to contribute to the cause of saving and restoring the bridge, you may join the Jenkins Bridge Foundation’s facebook site, which you can click here.

More to come soon.

 

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Hayden Truss Bridge Opens to Traffic

 

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Hayden Bridge on the day of its reopening. Photo taken by Julie Bowers

Grand Reopening of the 1882 Whipple Through Truss Bridge after a thorough Rehabilitation.

SPRINGFIELD/ EUGENE, OREGON- Two years after acquiring the bridge and three decades after seeing its last train cross the McKenzie River, the Hayden Truss Bridge is officially open. As many as 40 people attended the grand reopening of the 1882 Whipple through truss bridge yesterday. The bridge was given a makeover by the restoration company, Workin’ Bridges, based in Holt, Michigan. The company, headed by Julie Bowers, purchased the structure in 2016 for the purpose of repurposing it as a pedestrian crossing. The two-year long project included repairs to the truss parts and bridge abutments, the replacement of the bridge decking and lastly, new railings to ensure people can use the bridge without any incident. BACH Steel and ASF Ironworks contributed to repairs and addition of metal to the bridges, including the railings. The cost for the project, according to the bridge’s facebook page, was approximately $100,000; much of which was covered through donations and other fundraising attempts. The last few weeks saw the completion of the rehabilitation being delayed due to snowfall which covered much of Oregon and the West Coast. The grand opening of the bridge saw the snow melt away and the sunshine of opportunity arise for the bridge. With the crossing open to traffic, plans are in the making to create a park using the bridge as its center piece. Wishful thinking is a replica of a historic covered bridge that existed right next to the truss bridge over a century ago. A video on the Covered Bridges of Lane County, which features an excerpt on the two bridge can be seen below:

For Bowers and Co., this is the third major accomplishment in the past three years, behind the Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in Arkansas and the Paper Mill Bridge (formerly McIntyre) in Delaware. Both bridges have garnered accolades in the form of the Ammann Awards and other awards on the state and national levels. And while the Hayden Bridge is in the running for the 2019 Bridgehunter Awards for Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge, there are several other bridges that will need the service of the bridge restoration experts responsible for this bridge in Oregon. But for now, let’s celebrate this accomplishment, for the people of Springfield definitely deserve their bridge back. 🙂

 

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The Hayden Bridge was built by two Pennsylvania firms: Clark, Reeves and Co of Philadelphia and Phoenixville Bridge and Iron Works of Phoenixville. The 224-foot iron truss bridge features, pinned connections, ornamental decorations on its portal bracings and upper chord, as well as the octagonal Phoenix columns. The bridge used to serve the Weyerhauser Logging Railway but had originally been built in Corrine, Utah as part of a multiple-span crossing. It was relocated to its present spot in 1901 and served rail traffic until 1987. Details on the bridge can be found here. Springfield is located just east of Eugene in Lane County.

 

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Chemnitztal Viaduct to be Rehabilitated

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Twin viaducts- the shorter of the two to be rehabilitated come April. This is the half with the arch spans. Photos taken in December 2016

The western of the twin viaducts to receive a functional and cosmetic makeover to make way for the long-distance trains. Construction to commence in May.

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CHEMNITZ- Following the Chemnitz Viaduct between the railway stations Chemnitz-Mitte and Chemnitz-South and the Rabenstein Viaduct in the western part of the city, there is a third major railroad viaduct that will be renovated beginning this summer. This one is in the industrial district in the northeastern part of the city.

The Chemnitztal Viaducts features not just one but two viaducts spanning the River Chemnitz, a bike trail and one of the key streets going to the industrial district, the Blankenauer Strasse. It is located near the heating plant with its signature colored smokestack that is 300 meters tall and is the tallest in Chemnitz. Opposite the river is the castle gardens. The older of the two was built from 1869 to 1871, features a total of 15 spans (6 deck truss spans measured at 25.5 meters and 9 arches at 11.8 meters each, respectively) and a total of 308 meters. The younger of the spans was built in 1899 by one of the most popular bridge builders in Germany at that time, Dyckerhoff and Widmann, features 12 arches, has a total length of 366.3 meters and is 20 meters taller than its twin. That bridge was used for freight service before being decommissioned in 1999.

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The twin viaducts with the trussed girder spans of the shorter viaduct that is scheduled to be rehabilitated. Photo taken from the Chemnitzal Bike Trail.

The older of the twins is the focus of rehabilitation that will start in April. According to information by the Chemnitz Free Press, based on the project presented by the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn), the project is expected to take six months and will require the closure of the Chemnitz-Leipzig line from the end of May until the middle of September. The plan is to strengthen the arch spans and remodel them to accommodate train traffic in the future. Plans are in the making to electrify the rail line between Leipzig and Chemnitz shortly afterwards with the goal of reintroducing long-distance service between Chemnitz and Rostock via Leipzig by 2023. The catch behind this rehabilitation project is that no additional track will be laid, hence it will be a one-track viaduct where all trains will be required to cross at 80 km/h. This has mainly to do with its proximate location to the railroad freight yard on the east bank of the river near Hilbersdorf, as well as the Central Train Station, which is 1.5 kilometers from the twin viaducts.  The taller of the two viaducts will remain untouched during the whole project, even though it may be the focus of a future project down the road.

Currently, only regional trains are using the viaduct as commuters travel between Leipzig and Chemnitz on a daily basis. Yet with the Bahn’s plan to have Inter-City trains travel this route, time is of the essence to have the crossing ready before the end of the year, so that electrification can begin in 2020. Commuters will have bus services between Chemnitz Central Station and Chemnitz Küchwald during the period of the entire closure of the bridge.

With three viaducts scheduled to be rehabilitated- two of them as part of projects to reintroduce Inter-City trains to Chemnitz for the first time in over two decades, the City of Chemnitz is going to have a good look at the newly restored bridges once the projects end. Residents will still get to keep their prized achitectural works while travelers will become attracted to a little bit of history as they pass through Chemnitz, one historic bridge at a time. For a city in transition to modernity, it is important to keep a little bit of its history and heritage for the guests to visit and learn about.

More on the projects will come as crews prepare to commence on the rehabilitation projects.

 

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Interview with Lincoln McCardle and the Successful Rehabilitation of the Blackfriars Bridge in London, Canada

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LONDON, ONTARIO (CANADA)- Almost four months after the reopening of the longest bowstring arch bridge in the world, located in Canada, the Blackfriars Bowstring Arch Bridge is starting to receive some well-deserved accolades for the work that was done for the bridge. As mentioned earlier, the 1875 product of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company finished second in the Ammann Awards in the categories of Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge and Bridge of the Year, good enough for silver medals. It won the Author’s Choice Award for the former mentioned category. And just recently, on 21st February, the bridge won the ACO London Conservation and Reuse Award, presented by the City of London.  Here’s a photo of the presentation of the bridge upon receiving the award:

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The photos were taken by one of the people who contributed to saving the bridge, Lincoln McCardle. Like many residents in London, Lincoln has close ties and memories of the bridge, as he hung out with friends and the like at the bridge while growing up. His mother, Judi, has even more of an attachment to the bridge to a point where she has had a house located in the “visual vicinity” of the bridge (and judging by the article, her house does have a great view with the bridge.) She has even painted pictures of the bridge and has collected some works on it!!!

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Judi McCardle talking about the bridge at the ACO Awards Ceremony in London

It’s pretty difficult to say who were spearheading the efforts to saving the bridge, even though the two are two of the bridge’s biggest fans. However, there was a time when the decision between rehabilitating and replacing the bridge was that difficult to make. But when the decision was made to do the rehab, it was well worth the work. I had a chance to interview Lincoln via e-mail about the Blackfriars Bridge. Like the author of the Chronicles, he was in charge of the social network scene, devoting his time to bringing the Blackfriars Bridge to the attention of the people in London and beyond.  Thanks to that alone, it garnered a lot of attention and support, which made the decision to rehabilitate the bowstring arch bridge much easier than without. To give you an idea, here is a youtube clip of him as an overture to the interview conducted with the Chronicles.  Check out the finished product at the end of the interview and feel free to comment. Have fun watching the film and reading the interview. 🙂

 

1. The bowstring arch bridge had been closed to all traffic from 2013 until the project. What factors led to the decision to restore the bridge?

The decision to restore was actually very much in doubt for some time. While deemed the more expensive in the Environmental Study Report, it was decided that rehabilitation was the preferred option. I believe that key factors that went into this decision were: importance as a significant heritage structure, role within the parks and pathway system as well as transportation network and perhaps most importantly it’s value to the community. In short, people love it!

2. Who were the key players in the project to restore the bridge?

Most notably the city of London itself. As well as provincial and federal government funding. Much of the prlimanry work was done by Dillon Consulting and the actual construction and rehabilitation work was done by McLean Taylor Construction Limited. Of course, there were many community and heritage activists whom without this project may never have taken place.

3. Describe in phases how the bridge was restored, beginning with the dissembly and ending with the reopening?

The procedure to carefully lift the bridge was been developed with safety as a priority. The steps were as follows:

  • Remove non-structural items to reduce weight lifted.
  • Prepared temporary steel framing and cables to provide an apparatus for
  • the lift.
  • Set up two cranes for the lift, one on each side of the river. Two additional
  • cranes set up for worker access.
  • Lift bridge off the abutments and lower it down to an area above the river for improved worker access, while continuing to support it from the cranes at all times.
  • Cut bridge at the mid-span with torches while supported by the cranes.
  • Lift each half of the bridge to the nearest side of the river.
  • Dismantle and inventory the bridge for delivery off site for rehabilitation.

After nine months of the off-site repair and rehabilitation, the bridge was returned back in place across the Thames River on August 15, 2018.

4. Where was all the work done?

The bridge was actually transported to St. Mary’s, Ontario where the work was done. (About a 45 minute drive away from the site.) it was decided that bridge removal and off-site rehabilitation provides benefits including a longer life expectancy and improved worker and public safety. Off-site rehabilitation within a large indoor space created a safer worksite, ensure better quality control, reduce the need for environmental protection measures and take advantage of the winter months to complete much of the work. It also allowed for hot riveting to mimic the workmanship of 1875.

5. Why was the bowstring cut into half before being flown? Why not use the truck or two helicopters at the same time for carrying the bridge?

Two large cranes were required simply to lift the bridge – including one that is amongst the largest in North America. The bridge itself is 216 feet (65.8 meters) and is the longest working span of that kind in North America – it was determined that cutting it in half was the only possible way to transport it.

6. What difficulties did you have in restoring the bridge?

While I wasn’t involved myself, it’s pretty common knowledge that the major obstacle was the condition of the bridge. The project team had to constantly measure their desire to keep as much of the original bridge as possible while satisfying safety codes. This piece of the original structure that was gifted to me will give you an idea of what they were up against:

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The rehabilitation process involved an ongoing assessment of the condition of the individual bridge parts with a combination of reuse, upgrades and the fabrication of replicas. Much of the wrought-iron members were in good enough condition to reuse. For example, the pedestrian railing and lattice that exists in several locations on the bridge were reused with local upgrades where corrosion is severe and bridge design requirements dictate. The bowstring arch was also reused and upgraded where its condition required.

 

7. Some historians and bridge preservation claimed that restoring the bridge is not considered restoration but more like a replacement because of new materials that were used to replace the old plus some of the extra components added to the bridge which compromises the historical value of the bridge. What is your opinion on that?

I reluctantly see their point. While I’m confident that every effort was made to restore as much of the original structure as possible there were clearly beyond repair and severely corroded. These needed to be replaced with new similar looking parts to increase the longevity of the bridge. While all original parts would have been ideal and had simply been neglected to long and at this point I’m happy to have the original bridge back – or at least a as much as possible the 1875 design of it.

 

8. Was the bridge listed on any Canadian national registry prior to restoration? Did it maintain its status when it was reopened in November?

Yes and yes. Blackfriars Bridge is a heritage-designated property under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act on April 21, 1992 and is included on the Ontario Heritage Bridge List, a list of provincially significant bridge structures. In 2016, Blackfriars Bridge was recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. In addition, it is included on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

 

9. Up until this interview, has this bridge received any accolades or at least a nomination for its restoration?

Yes, in fact I’m attending a gala tonight as it was nominated for an ACO London 2019 London Heritage Award. (https://acolondon.ca/news/2019/1/28/announcing-the-2019-london-heritage-award-nominees) As well, it has been nominated as one of the Great Places in Canada many times over the years. (http://greatplacesincanada.ca/) Perhaps most telling however is the number of times it has figured in various artistic works, visual and literary. The bridge is loved and cherished by many.

 

10. The Paper Mill Bridge in Delaware has won the Ammann Awards in two categories: Bridge of the Year and Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge, narrowing beating you in a voting marathon. In both categories you got second place, meaning a silver medal. In addition, you guys won the Author’s Choice Awards for Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. Congratulations on both! What is the reaction have you guys been receiving?

It’s been really special to have a bridge that means so much to me appreciated by others. The truth is my personal goal was simply to raise awareness of the bridge – so to have it even nominated was far beyond my initial expectations. And to then win the Author’s Choice Awards for Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge is a dream come true. It really is a local heritage gem and to have it recognized outside of our corner of the world really validates what I’ve felt all along – we are blessed to have such a historic span. The bridge has supported Londoners for 145 years and its well-deserved that it gets some support in return!

 

11. We have some examples of bowstring arch bridges that have been sitting abandoned and waiting for restoration and repurposing. Among them include a bowstring arch bridge in Flensburg, Indiana, Livermore Falls Bridge in New Hampshire and the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge in Mankato, Minnesota, the latter still holds the title of being the longest historic bridge in the US and second longest in the world behind you. What advice would you give to the groups interested in restoring the structure and bring it back to life for recreational purposes?

It sounds cliché but team work makes the dream work. I honestly believe that this restoration would have taken place without a lot of people reminding their friends and neighbours that not only did this bridge exist but that it was special and deserved to be saved. The lower cost of simply replacing it with a new structure was tempting to local government but heritage is a non-renewable resource. Given the obstacles faced by this project, I would suggest that the best time to start such a campaign is 25-years ago, with today being the next best option.

Blackfriars Bridge is one of the oldest and rarest bridges in Canada and an irreplaceable landmark in the Blackfriars/Petersville neighbourhood,” says Mayor Matt Brown. “This structure contributes to the character of our community. Preserving London’s built heritage matters and seeing the structure returned, looking just like it did in 1875, really brings our City’s history to life.”

And the finished product! 🙂

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Many thanks to Lincoln for the interview and the photos.

Tearing down the Bockau Arch Bridge: Lessons Learned from the Loss

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I would like to start off this entry with this quote: If my uncle was rich and had a couple million dollars, enough to purchase and restore the historic bridge at the Rechenhaus, the Saxony Ministry of Transportation (LASUV) would double and even triple the price to make that purchase impossible. My uncle owns an arena football team in Texas known as the Jackalopes and has made a profit ever since taking ownership a couple decades ago. Like the states’ residents, the state of Texas takes pride in its historic bridges through policies and practice. One in three historic bridges have either been restored for reuse or bypassed by a concrete bridge with half of those having been restored at a later time. Whether my uncle would have tolerated LASUV’s price-jacking in an attempt to keep the bridge for the demolition crews would have been questionable, for Texas has one of the toughest legal systems that makes libel and fraud a crime punishable with prison. Having lived there for over four of his six decades of life, he has dealt with and used these laws wisely. In either case, the stench of libel and kickbacks would have set him off as much as our group, the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge, as well as locals who have followed us and expressed anger over this mishap.

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As of this entry, LASUV had it its way and our 150-year old stone arch bridge is no more. We had our send off on Tuesday of last week with a documentary by German public TV channel MDR. The next day, on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, the last of the four main arches was downed by the digger. Filming the scene with my camera, I had a difficult time trying to comprehending what had just happened. A mix of anger, sadness, confusion, perplexity and just being lost in translation flowed through me and it would be a small photo tour of the historic bridges in Zwickau and Glauchau that helped me regain my composure and find some lessons behind this debacle.

The whole theme behind this demolition was the fact that we had no chance. LASUV wanted it gone because no two bridges should be allowed to stand side-by-side, a concept that exists in many places due to policies and practice, like in Texas. The agency was determined to see the structure gone and was diligent enough to repel those interested in the bridge for reuse as a pedestrian and bike bridge. And despite attempts to bring the issue to the table, none of the communities wanted it- neither Zschorlau nor Bockau, where the old bridge used to cross, nor any of the communities in the Ore Mountain District (in German: Erzgebirgskreis), from Aue to Schwarzenberg. Even with the smallest of amount to purchase, all of them considered the bridge a liability even though the arch bridge was still structurally sound. All of them said: “We have the future generations to worry about.” In other words, Smartphone gaming and malls trump history and outdoor recreation.  I myself was about to turn to the people in Glauchau, in the Zwickau district for help. After all, they are rebuilding their own arch bridge in the Hirschgrund at the Castle Complex and they would probably have had some ideas of their own.  That idea vanished with every drill of the digger. And lastly, the state parliament in Dresden turned down our petition to save the bridge, days after the last arch of the bridge was gone.

And to put the icing on the cake, because of the lack of will to even talk about reusing the old bridge, the Rechenhausbrücke is the first bridge ever to be used as bait for a replacement project despite its historic status! That means when building a replacement on a new alignment, one has the option to demolish the historic structure even if it is a historic landmark. This practice is common in the USA for national historic landmarks, which make the laws very weak and forces locals to jump in to save the structure with their own funds, even though as a national landmark, grants and other financial incentives are available for restoring historic bridges. For Saxony, the only incentive to save and restore the Rechenhausbrücke is if an uncle has a couple million Euros to purchase it and even then, there’s no guarantee that the purchase will happen.

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So what can we learn from this experience to pass onto our future preservation groups? After all, there are other historic bridges that are under the loop for replacement and from this experience, no bridge that is protected by cultural heritage laws is safe when it comes to progress. It’s easy to point fingers, but it’s more sensible to learn some lessons for the next project even though they are rather tough to achieve. From my personal perspective, here are some items to keep in mind for those who have a historic bridge that is worth saving and repurposing for other use:

1. Start as early as possible. If you learn of a project to replace the bridge you want to keep, you have to begin as early as you can. The window of opportunity will close quicker than you think. This was probably one of the painful reasons we lost our bridge. We just could not keep up with LASUV and the politicians who wanted to turn a blind eye at any cost (and did so).

2. Get actively involved in the discussions. Do not stand on the sidelines nor allow others to influence you. We had voices but need more of them to bring the issue to a head. Not to mention a couple trips to Dresden to get some politicians on our side.

3. Create an organization to save the bridge. This one we did a bit too late but we gained some traction in the process. Your organization should have some people with deep pockets full of money and resources as well as a will to share your interest and help. This one we lacked a great deal but part of that was LASUV’s unfair hat trick.

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4. Have some capital with you if you want to (fight to) own the bridge. Despite the T-shirt idea, fundraising should be done once you create your group. However, that requires a lot of time and effort to achieve your goal. What is needed is money right away from sources that are willing to help you. Even grants and financial support from the private sector helps a great deal. That one we didn’t have in the end, even if we had the 1.7 million Euros LASUV offered.  By the way, the T-shirts are still selling. If interested in a memorabilia, click here.

5. Know your friends and the ways to repel your enemies. This one we learned the hard way for our organization did form a nucleus of friends, many of us will remain in contact. Yet we didn’t know who our friends from outside were. Especially at the April 2018 at the bridge, where despite the invitation to many members of three ministries and several parties, many of them were either clueless about the situation of the bridge or showed no interest in saving it. The latter was very obvious with a “behind closed door” meeting that occurred after our meeting between the head of the petition committee and the two mayors of the communities which the old bridge connected- two opponents of keeping the bridge.

6. Involve the parties at every meeting, including the media. This one we did a great job of, especially with Heike Mann at the Chemnitz Free Press, Aue Office, plus people at MDR-TV based in Leipzig-Halle and the Leipzig Glocal via Chronicles. Being a journalist on the side, it is difficult getting the information needed to write a great story on it. What I found disturbing was their exclusion from the meeting in April where they all waited about 50 meters away while we had a great debate going. Fortunately, I played Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers and bootlegged a story out of it as I could do it in English. Normally one’s head could get ripped off for that. However, we did forge great ties with our media correspondences and they were able to get it done objectively, which helps when they are involved in every phase of the project.

7. Know the preservation laws, the options in saving the historic places and the loopholes involved. I did some research on German preservation laws for a presentation in 2010 and compared them with the National Historic Preservation Laws in the US. Both have one common denominator involved: They are flawed! When you know them early enough, you can come up with a strategy to fill in the holes. Make sure every exit is covered and no wide receiver is open before the quarterback throws the ball.

8. If you are ready to buy the bridge, know your responsibilities. It’s like owning a car: your car, your responsibilities. If anything happens, make sure you have enough capital to fix the problem. I believe we had enough money to buy the bridge, yet the need to maintain and perhaps rehabilitate the bridge, would require help from outside, which was impossible to get, in the end.

9. If they argue for demolition, make sure they have clear cut evidence. Also with the historical documentations. This was one that irked us the most. The process from replacing the bridge to offering the old bridge to a third party lacked transparency and evidence to justify the reasoning behind the actions carried out.  We wanted to document the bridge before it was demolished. According to LASUV, it was documented, but there was no hard evidence. We wanted reasons behind the cost for rehabilitating the old bridge compared to demolishing it after the new one opened. We received numbers that were arbitrary and lacked evidence behind the facts and figures. The petition was supposed to be discussed in parliament- it was after the demolition had started! The arguments for demolition lacked hard and sufficient evidence to justify the claims. If you are not sure about them, ask them and have them provide you with evidence. Then compare with other projects to see if they are standard or fixed to their advantage. Chances are the claims against your arguments are flawed. Be empirical about the claims.

10. Involve the public- hold a referendum! This was never held although if it had, the outcome would have been different. There were no reasons behind not having held it except for the mayors to save their faces, which they have lost along with the bridge. Yet while they will certainly be voted out in the mayoral elections later on this year, you can force your city officials to hold a referendum. Petitions, active involvement, constant phone calls, that’s all they are needed to get the city officials to carry it out, even if it takes a lot of effort.

And lastly, know if you are in the right and fight for it! In the end, we knew we were in the right when we saw several flaws in the whole bridge replacement process. We saw the lack of flexibility and ability to compromise. We saw the lack of interest and will in saving the bridge and helping the group achieve the goal. And lastly, we saw the lack of enthusiasm that is needed for saving a piece of history and heritage. After all, a bridge is a bridge, but if it has history, unique design and character, it does have a chance to be saved.

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I’d like to end this entry with a quote by Sharad Vivek Sagar that best fits the ending of a tragedy of this story: “For too long, information, opportunities, and resources have been constraints, they need to be the bridges.”  We have been limited by the color of money, the lack of information on the laws protecting historic places, the lack of will to cooperate and compromise and the inflexibility, all in the name of progress and power. Learning the lessons the hardest way possible, we need to take these  and teach the next groups about the importance of our heritage and ways to protect them. In an ever-changing environment where everything is being modernized, preserving what is left of our history is of paramount of importance so that we can learn about our region and our heritage. It’s for the sake of future generations. Otherwise what do we have to teach our children?

 

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Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 11: A Flicker of Hope?

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A Tale of Two Bridges: The Stone Arch Bridge in the foreground and the New Bridge in the background. Photo taken on 23 January, 2019

This entry starts with a little bit of irony. The bridge was supposed to be torn down beginning the 14th after the organization Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge was unable to purchase the historic stone arch bridge for 1.7 million Euros- a price that was considered too high and the figure to fictitious to anyone’s liking. Because of a massive snowstorm that brought life in Saxony and parts of Germany to a complete standstill, it was pushed back to the 21st. As of this entry and visit to the bridge on the 23rd, the old stone lady is still standing, with no digger, no crane, no driller, no construction worker. At temperatures well below zero Celsius, it makes the planned demolition impossible. And with more snow and cold in the forecast, chances are very likely that the planned work may not even commence until sometime before Easter.

And that is a long ways away. However, this may be that window of opportunity that we need to turn it around and pull off an upset- a hat trick that is even bigger than the bunny the Ministry of Finance and Transport pulled. Already suggestions from nearby communities in Saxony indicate that people don’t want to part ways from this historic bridge just yet. In the newly consolidated Aue-Bad Schlema for example, there was a proposal to divert funding for renovating a club to go to purchasing and renovating the bridge.  In Beiersfeld near Schwarzenberg, one official suggested at least leaving the bridge piers so that a wooden bridge is put in its place. If covered, it would be a first in over 150 years. And even in Berlin, the petition to save the bridge is being examined as the federal government still owns the bridge and the highway that crosses it, although it’s crossing a new bridge on a new alignment.  So in other words, while the state is dead set on removing the structure, attempts to pull an upset is in the works. And as long as Old Man Winter hovers over the Ore Mountain region, there is still some hope to pull this off.

But how to do it?

We’re looking for any ideas to halt the demolition process. Rallies are possible, for we’ve seen this at many historic bridges in the US and Canada. Concerts as well. There is a possibility to donate to the group Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge. But more importantly, we need some sources and people willing to step in and save a piece of history, one that can be used as a crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, fishermen and photographers, anybody who would rather see a piece of history in tact as is, and not in rubble.  The old bridge has potential, and is stable enough for use. We need some ideas and your help…..

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….as long as the snow is there and no green.

You can send your suggestions here, but you can also contact the following representatives of the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Freunde der Rechenhausbrücke) using the e-mails below:

 

Contact details:

Ulrike Kahl <ulrike.kahl@gruene-erzgebirge.de>,   Hermann Meier hermann.meier50@gmx.de , Günther Eckhardt <geck-art@gmx.de>

Please note that you should have your German language ready for use!

 

To close this, I would like to use a Cree Indian quote but adapted in this context, which goes like this:

Not until the the decking has been taken out

Not until the arches have been removed

Not until the piers are imploded

Not until the materials are hauled away

Not until we realize what we’ve done to our local history

That it cannot be replaced with memories.

We will fight until the last brick leaves Rechenhaus.

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For those who joined the Chronicles via Skrive, you can collect the information on the bridge by clicking here, and then following the updates so that you get a bigger picture and perhaps help.

Check out our facebook page here for photos and other information. You are free to follow and join in the conversation, regardless of language.

 

 

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