TOURNAIS, BELGIUM- This article pays a tribute to the Pont de Trous, a bridge spanning the River Scheldt in the City of Tournai in Belgium. At the time of this posting, this bridge is all but a memory as it was pushed aside in the name of progress. The project to demolish the bridge started on August 9th as part of the project to deepen and widen the River Scheldt to allow ships to sail through France to join the Seine, which flows into the Atlantic. The bridge was built in 1290 to replace a wooden crossing and was the last of the military crossings of its kind in the world. However, as the city claimed the bridge is being rebuilt with the stones being saved for reuse, this was the scene of this “reconstruction project:”
A news report shows the details of this senseless destruction:
A new bridge mimicking the original historic character of the crossing is expected to be in place by the end of 2020. However, despite its McDonald’s arches that are being proposed, one has to ask if this was really necessary, given the fact that the bridge was part of Tournai’s old town. Featuring historic buildings, inside the fort and a cathedral, all from the same era as the bridge, the old town of Tournai has been a UNSESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. With the proposed rebuilding of the bridge, one has to ask himself if this was really a necessity. Do we need larger ships to pass through or if it makes sense to transport by land, which has enough highways and railways taking goods and persons to ports in the areas mentioned? Is it really necessary to have the bigger is better mentality or is less really more? And lastly, how much do we care about history in general?
With this demolition of one of the most historic bridges in the world, I’m reminded of a comment one of my students mentioned about history in class: “History is history. We need to worry about the future.” Yet history is important to understand the present and change it for our future and that of the next generation. Without history we will never know how we got to where we are now and what is expected to come. We will never know how we progressed with our infrastructure and how it contributed to forming a nation, partnerships with other nations and society that we have today. It’s like the environment we fighting to save: We’ll never know until there’s nothing left…….
……but a memory. If we even remember this bridge a generation later, or if all that is left in memory are Ronald’s Golden Arches…….
Author’s note:This is the first podcast since the move and features all the events that happened over the past 2-3 weeks. The most current version of Newsflyer (for the week of August 5th, 2019) will follow.
Lansing, Michigan- Entries are still being taken for this year’s annual Iron and Steel Preservation Conference. The two-day event will take place on Friday and Saturday, October 18-19 at the Lansing Community College West Campus, located at 5708 Cornerstone Drive in Lansing. With a couple exceptions, this conference has been held annually and focuses on welding and other industrial techniques, using historic bridges as examples, as the state has many of them still in use, a third of which have been credited through the technical expertise of those who have participated in the workshop and has done a lot of work with historic bridge preservationists and welding experts.
The events on each day will be from 8:00am to 5:00pm. According to the coordinator, Vern Mesler, the Conference will feature the following:
Day One of this conference is primarily lecture, and Day Two participants will have opportunities to see Demonstrations of actual preservation techniques and have hands on learning opportunities.
Day 1 – Speaker’s Forum: Presentations on the rehabilitation work recently completed on Michigan’s Cut River Bridge on U.S. Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula by Michigan Department of Transportation personnel who were directly involved in the rehabilitation work. (Lloyd Baldwin, cultural and historic resource coordinator for MDOT, will lead these sessions from the initial planning stages to the completion of the rehabilitation work.)
Presentations on issues related to riveted and bolted connections and on the damaging effects of pack rust on metal structures. Presentations on the role of riveting in new construction and design.
The presenters at the Friday event:
Lloyd Baldwin, Cultural and Historic Resource Coordinator (MDOT)
“Cut River Bridge Rehabilitation”
Andrew Zevchak & Mario Quagliata (MDOT)
“Bridge Rehabilitation Design Overview”
Christopher Garrell, PE (AISC)
“Exploiting the Resiliency of Built-up Steel Members”
Robert J. Connor, PhD (Purdue University)
“Research and Evaluation of Pack-out Corrosion in Steel Built-up Members at Purdue University”
Steve Howell, Ballard Forge
“Hydraulic riveting introduction”
Steve Howell and Lansing Community College Staff
“Hydraulic Rivet Demonstration”
Day 2 – Hands On Demonstration: The experienced staff of craftsmen at Lansing Community College will demonstrate electric arc welding processes, braze welding, and an introduction to the industrial rivet process (both field riveting and shop hydraulic riveting).
The event is open to all who are interested in the profession of welding and/or preservation of historic bridges and workshop participants will experience the use of the aforementioned welding demonstrations and other industrial processes during hands-on sessions and learn how these processes are used in the preservation of historic metals and new construction. One of the key centerpieces of this conference will be the Cut River Bridge along US Hwy. 2, which had recently undergone extensive rehabilitation using these welding techniques that will be presented at the conference (for more on the bridge, please click here).
Breakfast and lunch will be provided for both days. Participants will need to book their own lodging accomodations. For more information and to register for the event, please click on the link below, which will lead you directly to the conference website and registration page: