Back in January 2018, I posted a guest column on the bridges of Venice, Italy, taken by a travel blogger, who discovered the many hidden sites of Venice that are worth seeing, as a person visits the bridges along the Grand Canal and other waterways that make the city famous. A video was posted recently on the same subject, yet the focus was on the bridges themselves, filmed from all angles including the surroundings.
To give you a better idea of what to expect from the bridges of Venice, here’s the nine-minute video which will give you more than enough reasons to go to Venice. Enjoy! 🙂
In connection with the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, a couple of videos came to mind that I came across recently. Prior to the disaster, there has been a debate as to determining which bridge disasters should be in the top 10, for there are several sources that have their own set- be it in terms of history, natural disasters or even structural failures. Here are a couple examples of bridge disasters that feature the top 10 prior to the Genoa disaster. The first one focuses on disasters in terms of structural failure combined with history.
This video focuses on natural disasters and bridge failures, originating from Russia…..
Now here is the homework assignment for you: How would you rank your top 10 bridge disasters? What criteria would you set before finding your ten best examples? Would your focus be on the international stage or would you prefer local examples? And would you agree that your top 10 would be based on natural disasters, structural failures, both or neither of them?
Have a look at the videos and then look for your top ten bridge collapses. You may comment here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page.
Despite the decking being added, there is still work left to be done with the bridge. A press release by the group shows you the details of the progress, what is next with the project, how much money is needed to complete the last phases and how you can help put the final touches on the project. The press release includes some photos and a cool video provided by Nels Raynor of BACH Steel showing how the new decking is being added. Here’s the release as of 4 April 2016:
In a stunning development, the Friends of Bunker Mill Bridge® newly appointed officers decided on April 1, 2016 to leave the group managed and funded by NSRGA / Workin’ Bridges. Julie Bowers, Executive Director of NSRGA, was informed of their decision on Saturday at Bunker Mill Bridge by Henry Swantz. While we applaud their efforts to start a new non profit company to work with the bridge, under advise of counsel, until they are recognized as such, with the solid financial and insurance backing that they need, their efforts with the bridge ownership are over, and the representatives to our board from FBMB – Doris Park and Scott Allen gave up their rights as board members”, stated Julie Bowers. “I’m not sure they realized what they were doing when they decided to leave but we’ve seen this before when people that are working together get a title. However, the executive director needed more official help and it seemed to be a good time for that change. The new officers appointed were Travis Yeggy, President and Scott Allen, Executive Director, Mike Riddle, VP, Doris Park, Secretary and Irma Altenhofen, Treasurer. With the consent of the core group they decided to go rogue. They didn’t want to stand behind the binding legal agreements and promises held by NSRGA and FBMB. NSRGA / Workin’ Bridges (W’B) is the legal owner and contractor for the project and will continue to work the bridge project as money and scheduling permit.
We are hopeful that the new non profit will work to find collaborators within the county and region to build a bigger and better park for northern Washington County. NSRGA / Workin’ Bridges will donate $1000 to help get them started. We will not use any of the $1680 in donations that recently came in for bridge construction for that. W’B is really geared to be interim owners of bridges, and our insurance is realized because of the experts that we use to engineer and restore our bridges. This bridge was to be the first to become one of our bridge parks. Once the Bunker Mill Project is complete, we hope to have many conversations on it’s future. We’ve found, especially with this project, that we need to keep construction separate from the friends groups and local politics. Most friends groups don’t have the expertise to pull off such large and expensive projects, that is why the county allowed us to take on what they didn’t want, because we had those credentials. This is our mission, to preserve historic bridges and greenbelts, and with our growth we are pleased to be able to help an Iowa bridge.
Workin’ Bridges, in an effort to move the project forward in January, encouraged the group to reach out for donors. W’B invested $21,000 in materials and roughly $20,000 in labor for BACH Steel to bring the bridge this far, after their donated time installing stringers. Bowers wants people to understand that while we have come a very long way towards our goal of “Crossing the English”, we are not there yet. Another $30,000 will be required for repair of rail on the approach and the new railing system on the bridge. A wing wall for the south approach is being designed and engineered, and once ready we will bid that work. The north approach, while it held the weight of the JCB, has more spongy planks now. Funding will drive the schedule for completion. Portal gates will be installed on the bridge in order to keep those interested in the project safe until it is finished. We don’t want anyone falling off the bridge in their excitement. The bridge was engineered for recreational use, a maintenance truck, horses and buggies and people for the future, but it is limited in what it can do. The easements were acquired for the preservation and protection of the bridge only.
Each of the easements, Miller, Ehrenfeldt and Stumpf have different requirements. The Millers wanted nothing on their side, the Ehrenfeldt’s wanted no trespassing signs posted but no fence to keep folks out of their land. In the Stumpf easement, the area was vacated by the county in 2013 to Mr. Stumpf in order to grant us that last easement. At the time and in a meeting, the area was staked out and none of our easement touched Nutmeg Avenue. He has asked us to limit the access of folks coming from the north directly onto his property. Just yesterday someone came out at 5 am to try to walk over the bridge and that made us realize that the bridge park must be controlled more, and that was one of the areas that FBMB was to be working on before they voted to leave the services that we have provided behind. Stumpf has put an offer on the table for a purchase the “Catholic 40” as it is commonly known. Our binding agreement with Stumpf allows for a gated fence that will help us define the park boundaries on the south side. He would also allow the gates open for our regular Tuesday events (that won’t take place this summer) and for special events or visiting Sundays for the Amish. There is no further road vacation needed which only came out on discussions with Stumpf that should have happened years ago. Our south side friends that have enjoyed the bridge and the road will be able to continue to do so. We hope to see them in the middle soon, but in the meantime we have to go back to work to make more money to finish the job. Donations made to FBMB will continue to be tax deductible and if they flood in the schedule will move up. NSRGA has reached out to the Natural Heritage Foundation of Iowa, part of the Land Trust Alliance to help us define what a park would look like and what signage and posted hours need to be. Other groups would also be interested in a collaboration and if partners can be found for a REAP grant, the area could be managed the state DNR as we know the County Conservation Board is not interested in managing a park near Kalona.
Questions can be directed to Julie Bowers, Executive Director of NSRGA / Workin’ Bridges at email@example.com or 641.260.1262.
Oakmont loses historic icon via implosion amid protests.
PITTSBURGH/ OAKMONT- There are demolitions of historic buildings and bridges that are justified because of their derilect state and safety concerns. While options of rebuilding are viable, the removal of safety hazards with no options left are logical. Then there are demolitions of these historic structures that defy logic and break barriers of resistance of locals and agencies wanting to save them because of their potential reuse.
The bridge was imploded today, dropping all but one of the five pinned connected through truss spans into the Allegheny River. This happened just three months after the opening of its replacement span to the north. Workers wasted no time removing the decking and setting the bridge up for the planned implosion, ignoring last minute pleas to save the bridge.
The plan to replace and then remove the historic bridge was a quick and systematic process, where despite its unique design and construction history, both the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the State Historic Preservation Office agreed to declare this bridge non-historic.
Had the Hulton Bridge been declared eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Laws would have been enforced, forcing the state to look at options to keep the bridge intact once the new bridge opened. The 1544 foot (471 meter) long bridge featured four 260 foot long Parker trusses and one 508 foot long Pennsylvania petit through truss span with bedstead portal bracings resembling the letter X.
A similar design was found in the Donora-Webster Bridge, before the bridge was brought down in July of last year. Despite protests, PennDOT proceeded to initiate the project, even ignoring the proposals to save the bridge- and this despite its rehabilitation done in 2000, where bridge parts were fixed and the entire structure was painted lilac.
With the Hulton Bridge gone, only the C.L. Schmitt Bridge at New Kensington and the West Mifflin-Riverton Bridge are the two remaining multiple-span through truss bridges left spanning the Allegheny River outside Pittsburgh. Yet given PennDOT’s track record of systematically destroying historic bridges despite opposition to the plan, these two bridges may be gone soon as questionable reasons will be found to justify the decision to take the structures down.
There are two ways to stop them: Have local governments or a private party take over the structures and work to maintain them, or protest the draconian policies to tear down the bridges in front of the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. But that can be done if more people are actively involved in the efforts-
and have a will to learn more about the historic bridges and their role in the development of the transportation system in Pennsylvania and the US. Right now, the interest is more for football and Facebook. When they will take interest remains open.
Here are the clips of the demolition of the Hulton Bridge:
The Oakmont Historical Society, whose members are currently mourning the loss of their historical icon, produced a documentary of the Hulton Bridge, which includes tours across the bridge. Enjoy this 30+ minute documentary below:
In the past 5-7 years, we have seen an increase in the number of films and documentaries that were either produced by public TV stations for live viewing, or had been produced years back but were recently discovered and posted on several video platforms, among them, YouTube. Many of them feature structures that are well known on a regional scale but not as well-known on a national or even international scale. Therefore, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will feature a Film Feature looking at the structure, either in terms of construction and/or significance or in some cases, disaster which engineers can learn from. Most of these film features will be placed under the page Literature of the Week under the subcategory Films and Documentaries, although a separate page is being considered, should the Film Feature receive numerous views and other accolades.
FEHMARNSUNDBRÜCKE/ FEHMARN BRIDGE:
While digging up some information on ways to save this bridge, I came across a documentary produced over 50 years ago on this important crossing. The Fehmarn Bridge connects Germany with Fehmarn Island and is part of the Migratory Route connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen. Built in 1963, the bridge was the first one in the world that used a now-very common construction type- the basket handle tied-arch bridge. The bridge is one of two major centerpieces at the center of one of the biggest controversies in Europe, where the German Railways, German Government and the Danish Government are pushing for two tunnels and an expressway through the island of Fehmarn. However, the plan has been met with stiff opposition from politicians, locals, evnironmentalists and even bridge enthusiasts. More on the story can be found by clicking on the links below:
But if there was another reason why such a project should be reconsidered has to do with the motive behind building the Fehmarn Bridge in the first place. The bridge was supposed to provide a key link to the island with the option of including ferry service from the island to Denmark, yet as small and environmentally sensitive as the island is, the roadway was reduced to only two lanes- the railroad line, only one track. It took 5-6 years to construct this important crossing, and this with all the factors involved: weather, wave currents and environmental factors which led to some careful efforts to build a structure that will last, but will little impact on the island. Here’s the 48-minute documentary looking at the construction of the bridge from start to finish. Even though the language of the film is in German, the film and photos speak more volumes than what is mentioned.
Viel Spaß beim Anschauen des Filmes! 🙂
To conclude this film feature, I would like to show you another film of the train trip to Fehmarn Island via Fehmarn Bridge. By even looking ahead towards the bridge and crossing it, it gives vacationers like me another incentive to visit the island. For many, it would be a first time to explore this place of beauty. For those like me, it would be a second at least, loving the island and the bridge more than the first time. 🙂