Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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BHC Newsflyer: 29 April, 2019

Podcast of the Newsflyer available here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-29-april-2019

 

News Stories:

Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Iowa closed- future unknown

Rockville (Utah) Truss Bridge Re-opening Ceremony on May 3rd

Lindaunis-Schlei Drawbridge to be replaced

Article found here

Profile on the Bridge in 2011

Railroad Bridge in Calw (near Stuttgart) in danger of collapse

Replacement bridge project for Levensau Arch Bridge starts

Historic Bridge at Hull Drive near York (PA) being rehabilitated

Three bridges in Erfurt to be replaced- one of them is the Riethbrücke

Project to replace bridge in Magdeburg on hold due to legal dispute

Waiho Bridge Rebuilt and Reopened

 

PLUS: Tour Guide being updated. Click here.

 

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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 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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Please re-check your subscriptions by clicking on the following:

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The Flensburg Files

Pittsburgh pays tribute to John F. Graham

 

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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.