Iron Bridge Reopens After Six Months

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Century-old, two span pedestrian bridge to be part of new bike trail.

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AUE (SAXONY), GERMANY- Back in March of this year, many hikers were irritated with the fact that their favorite crossing over the Zwickau Mulde, connecting Bad Schlema with points to the east and south, was closed to all traffic. They were forced to take a detour 3-4 kilometers away or even ditch the notion of going by foot and driving by car. Since the beginning of this month, the Iron Bridge has been in use again, six months after it was closed to traffic. The two-span Parker bowstring arch bridge spans the Zwickau Mulde and was built in 1900, replacing a covered bridge that was destroyed in a flooding. And while the truss superstructure remains the same as is, some work was done on the bridge to ensure that it is safer for use, even for cyclists. For instance, new railings were installed to ensure that no one falls off the bridge. At 1.5 meters high, they are 0.5 meters higher than the originals. Furthermore, new acorn-colored varnished wooden decking replaced the previous one that was developing cracks and dry-rot after years of extremities due to weather. The decking is thicker and will be able to withstand stresses caused by increased in traffic by bikers and pedestrians.

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The rehabilitation is part of the project to construct the Mulde Bike Route, taking it off its current path that shares a street connecting Bad Schlema and Aue and running it along the river. At the same time, the Carlsbad Route is being extended, which will cross the bridge and end at Bad Schlema at the railway station. Currently, the bike trail starts in Carlsbad (Karoly Vary in the Czech Republic), and after going through the mountains and over the border at Johanngeorgenstadt, joins the Mulde Bike Trail at Wolfsgrün and terminates in Aue.  Despite the completion of the rehabilitation, which costed approximately 430,000 Euros, the realignment of the trail, combined with a new bridge over the rail-line Zwickau-Aue, a new picnic area on the eastern side of the Iron Bridge and the rehabilitation of the Stone Arch Bridge at Bad Schlema will delay the completion of the entire project until 2020, at the earliest.  Therefore the bridge will continue its local traffic until then, and people will have to put up with vehicular traffic along the original route along the Mulde.

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The Chronicles will continue to keep you posted on the latest regarding the project.

 

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Historic Truss Bridge in Chemnitz to be torn down

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The Bridge at Eckstrasse in Chemnitz. Photo taken in December 2016

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY- Located in the central part of the German state of Saxony, Chemnitz, with a population of 245,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in the state. It also has one of the largest number of historic bridges in the state, competing with the likes of Dresden, Leipzig and even some smaller communities, like Plauen, Glauchau, Rochlitz and Waldheim, just to name a few.   Among the historic bridges, Chemnitz has five truss bridges, half as many as the city’s arch bridges. This includes the Chemnitz Viaduct, the railroad overpass near the Central Railway Station, and in the photo above, the bridge at Eckstrasse in the northern part of the city center.

Spanning the River Chemnitz, this 25 meter long span is a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with riveted connections. The vertical beams are V-laced and there are parallel diagonal beams. Although there are no records about its builder, the bridge was constructed in 1893 and survived two World Wars and the Cold War unscathed, which is in contrast to the buildings that had once stood before the bombings in February and March 1945. Sadly the bridge was also the subject of neglect as there were no repairs or rehabilitations done with the structure. It was closed to motorized vehicles in 2006 and was voted Germany’s worst bridge by the automobile association ADAC, a year later.

After years of neglect, the bridge’s days are officially number, according to the Chemnitz Free Press in connection with the city council’s decision. Beginning 13 August 2018, the bridge will be permanently closed to all traffic including cyclists and pedestrians. At the cost of 30,000 Euros, the construction crews will remove the truss structure in its entirety. No replacement is expected, which means cyclists and pedestrians will be forced to use the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge. A map below shows you the three bridges:

The project is expected to take two weeks to complete. The reason behind the decision to remove the bridge does not have much to do with the cost for rehabilitating the bridge but more on the practicality of doing it, for many structural elements on the truss bridge is kaputt. Even during the visit in December 2016, one of the first impressions was the rust and corrosion on the truss superstructure itself. That went along with the rough decking with dips and cracks. These were issues that could have been fixed at the time prior to its closing in 2006, yet lack of funding may have played a role in delaying the rehabilitation process, eventually to a point of no return in the end. With over two dozen bridges over the River Chemnitz, with four bridges in the north of the city center, the Eckstrasse crossing was considered expendable because of the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge, each were approx. 250 meters apart from this bridge.

The Eckstrasse Bridge will leave the cityscape with two opposite impressions. On the one hand, it will leave as one of the rarest historic bridges in Saxony that withstood history and the test of time. Yet it will be relieved of the humility of being the most neglected bridge that, if there had been expertise and financial resources, it could’ve been rehabbed and reused. Sometimes one has to follow the Indiana rule, which is if the bridge cannot carry vehicular traffic, it is rehabbed right away instead of being abandoned first. 80% of historic bridges in the Hoosier state were preserved that way. And while it is too late to save this rare jewel in Chemnitz, the state of Saxony should be put on notice should another historic bridge be put under the knife for structural deficiencies.

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Full Throttle Bridges Relocated

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Bridges relocated to the new site; to be rehabilitated and reused for concert purposes

STURGIS (SOUTH DAKOTA), USA-  Almost three years ago, after celebrating the 75th anniversary of the world famous saloon located out in the mountainous region of South Dakota, a fire wiped out the entire Full Throttle Saloon complex, destroying buildings and damaging two historic bridges, brought in for the fans to watch their favorite musicians rock on stage. The bridges– products of the Canton Bridge Company and built in  1912- were in dire condition and it was unknown whether they could be salvaged or not.

Fast forward to 2018 and we see a totally different story! 🙂  As with the rest of the Full Throttle complex, these two through truss bridges have been relocated to the new site, approximately six miles north of the one that was charred by the inferno of 2015. A video of the unloading process of one of the spans can be seen below:

Video of the Bridge Relocation:

There is a lot of work to be done on the bridge before it can be used again as an overlook for concerts. The trusses located were missing the floor beams- burned along with the rest of the buildings at its original site- thus exposing the bottom chord. Damage was discovered in the vertical and diaginal beams which will require some reconstruction before a new flooring system can be installed. The rest of the bridge appears to be in good condition as it survived being loaded and carried onto trailers to the new site.

The Full Throttle Saloon Bridges won the Ammann Awards in the category of best example of a restored historic bridge in 2011. Yet if the project of restoration is completed, it may be up for another Amman Award and then some. But nevertheless, thanks to donations and a lot of loving and support, the saloon is being resurrected, bit by bit. With the full restoration of the two bridges coming, it may be the crown of a sucess story which really rose from the ashes to become a more popular attraction for cyclists and tourists. I’m really looking forward to the bridges when they are completed and the saloon complex finally goes full throttle. Ride on, gang! 🙂

 

Check out the Full Throttle Saloon’s facebook page so you can follow up on the events that are happening at the largest complex in the region, as well as the attempts to finish rebuilding the bridge to be used again for concerts.

Photos courtesy of James MacCray

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Sunset at Tappan Zee Bridge in New York

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If one has to go, it should go gracefully. It should go off into the sunset, foot-by-foot, mile by mile and in the case of the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York City, bit by bit.

Fellow pontist and photographer Dan Murphy had an opportunity recently to take a photo of both the new bridge and the old one, spanning the Hudson River connecting New York with New Jersey, and with that, the suburbs on both sides. The new structure, a pair of cable-stayed suspension bridges, whose towers are V-shaped are now opened to all traffic, providing a key connection to the Big Apple and other key areas along the East Coast and into New England via Thruway.  The old structure, a 1954 steel cantilever through truss bridge with Warren truss design is slowly disappearing into the sunset.

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And as one can see much more clearly, work has already begun taking apart the cantilever bridge itself after removing several deck truss spans, one by one.

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The old bridge is scheduled to disappear into the sunset by the end of this year. However, not everything will be scrapped, recycled and reused for other purposes. The bridge will be reused in multiple sections in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which includes the City of Pittsburgh. How and where they will be reused is unknown. It is known that the bridge will disppear with the setting sun soon. And with that, a piece of history that will be seen in the history books, unless one wishes to see sections of them in Steelers country.  😉

Special thanks to Dan Murphy for allowing use of the photos to be posted. More can be seen in the Bridges page on facebook.  To learn more about the Tappan Zee Bridge, check out this article here.

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Contributors Wanted for the Chronicles and its Social Media Pages

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Elimination of Internet Neutrality and Introduction of European Privacy Guidelines plus American counter-guidelines hampering news coverage of the Chronicles and other historic bridges sites.  Volunteer Contributors Wanted.

SCHNEEBERG (SAXONY), GERMANY- Since the Facebook scandal and the Trump administration’s campaign to eliminate internet neutrality to benefit the select few, regulations and counter-regulations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are making things very difficult to access any type of news coverage, be it TV, newspaper or the internet. Since 25th of May, new guidelines from the European Union have been in effect, which require all companies to inform readers of their rights to access the sites, which includes granting them rights to use only their personal data that is apropriate to their websites only and not giving them away to third parties without their consent. As a counter-measure, many news agencies in the United States have raised their guard on the rights to access their news from overseas. While some, like USA Today have provided the “lite” version with only the essential information, others have blocked access altogether. That means, readers from Europe who access information on news in their area of interest have been seeing this on their screen when trying to access their website:

WE’RE SORRY BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO ACCESS OUR WEBSITE BECAUSE YOU ARE IN EITHER THE EUROPEAN UNION OR AN EEA COUNTRY.

Imagine an American expatriate from Hamburg trying to access news from his/her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and cannot because of this. Believe it or not, Des Moines is one of many examples of cities and regions throughout the country implementing these counter-measures, as a “Red Alert! Shields Up! The Klingons are coming!” paranoia.

Given this situation, how does this affect the way the Chronicles does news coverage, especially with regards to social media?  It has a huge, negative impact indeed.

Since 2010 with facebook and 2013 with Twitter, the Chronicles has been providing news coverage on historic bridges on social media to provide readers with an opportunity to read up on them and if the chance arises, take action. This includes posting news articles on the social media sites, which have garnered followers by an average of 20% yearly for both sites. Almost 1000 followers are on the facebook website and group pages and 110 for twitter. The trend is skyrocketing as the Chronicles has been back in action lately after a brief absence to reorganize its wordpress site due to the shutdown of its areavoices website last May, and if it continues to pick up more support, it is possible to break the 1500 mark for facebook and 150 for twitter, respectively, by the end of the year.

Sadly though, the progress to make the Chronicles a key news source for historic bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere has been hampered greatly by the limited access to American media because of these unnecessary restrictions, for attempts to even forward the posts to the social media pages from its headquarters in Germany have in many cases been denied.  While it is bad enough for readers outside the United States to not have any more access to the news media outlets, it is worse if the possibilities to even post them on twitter are no longer valid.  The new regulations fall into the same category as Google’s plan to introduce pricing schemes for their maps and streetviews, which has caused the Chronicles’ Missouri-based colleague bridgehunter.com to remove all of its streetviews and consider replacing the maps with those from other, less-known map-making websites- as being complicated, an example of greedy, short-sightedness that will eventually fail miserably in the end.

While the Chronicles’ itself is not affected by all of the guidelines, as it runs a wordpress platform that operates universally, the twitter and facebook sites will see either fewer posts because of limited access to American media outlets or if they are posted, some of the viewers (especially outside the United States, including Canada, the EU, Mexico, Russia, Australia and Japan) will not be able to see them. And this is where your help is needed.

 

HELP WANTED!

We need bridgehunters, historians, enthusiasts and locals to come together and help feed and water the two plants that are growing and bearing fruit. If you see any articles pertaining to historic bridges, bridge rehabilitation, bridge replacement or any events involving a historic bridge in the United States and its affiliated islands, please use the following social media websites to post them, followed by a brief summary in 1-2 sentences about the article if possible:

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BHC on Twitter (FLBHAVSmith)

You are encouraged to like and follow the Chronicles if you want to keep up to date on the latest coverage of historic bridges in the US, Europe, Asia and other places in the world. By reaching the aforementioned goals and even beyond, we are providing a statement that media is for all and for free- not for the select few who are disinterested to begin with.

Note that the Chronicles has an Instagram app and is not affected by these restrictions. You can access (and follow) this page by clicking here.

If you know of a historic bridge that deserves attention because of a news event, you are encouraged to write a guest column and include 1-2 pictures to be sent to the author of the Chronicles, Jason Smith, at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. It will be posted in the Chronicles with your famed credit which will look good on your résumé if you wish to proceed in a career in media, history, etc.

This request is only for the US bridges as the regulations affect news coverage of many media outlets. The Canadian, European and other international outlets are not affected and coverage will be provided by its office here in Schneeberg.

The situation is awkward and disappointing, but it does not mean the show is over. The show must go on and it will go on, stronger than ever, because of people like you who love historic bridges. Therefore we will proceed as planned and the Chronicles thanks you with an open heart, mind and soul for your support. It is much appreciated. 🙂

 

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Zellstoff Bridge Receives New Flooring

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Zellstoff Bridge after getting a new decking in 2018.

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ZWICKAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-  In a previous article on the Iron Bridge in Aue, the author mentioned that as many as nine bridges along the Zwickau Mulde have been or are being rehabilitated or replaced; many of them were damaged because of the Great Flood of 2013, which is being commemorated this month.

If we count this bridge north of Zwickau, the Zellstoff Bridge, which opened recently, then it makes ten bridges within 2-3 years.  After tolerating a wooden decking that was wide on the one hand but warped and worn out on the other, the local crews replaced the bridge flooring during the spring and reopened the bridge a month ago. The cost of the project was between 300 and 700,000 Euros, much of which was financed locally.  At the same time, new railings were added to ensure that the crossing does not become a liability.

During my visit most recently, one can see the difference between the time before and the time after the construction. The decking has the same characteristics of wood but it it much smoother than before. The only caveat is that the decking is about 2 meters narrower than before, which makes crossing the bridge by foot riskier. Nevertheless, the new decking is greeted with open arms as many people use the trail connecting the north of Zwickau with areas to the north and east. During my last visit, more and more people used the bridge than in 2016 and decking played a key role there. As one of the fellow pontists said in my recent correspondance:  A narrow deck is built to conform to engineering standards. For pedestrian bridges, the bridge must be able to hold the weight of the deck fully loaded, with people standing shoulder to shoulder. Nevertheless, if the decking is used as often as it is now, with as much maintenance as it needs, it will last a long time and perhaps it will buy the City of Zwickau more time to give the bridge a real make-over when it is needed.

This is the second rehabilitation of the bridge since it was saved from demolition in 2007. The bridge used to be a rail crossing over the Zwickau Mulde River and the eastern bank used to hold a paper factory, which had been in business until its removal in the 1990s.

For more on the bridge, check out the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges by clicking here.

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Cigarette Butt Burns Historic Trestle

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Discarded cigarette butt causes fire on and under the century-old viaduct in Canada

HOPE (BRITISH COLUMBIA), CANADA-

There are several reasons why smoking should be banned from public places. Apart from the fact that it can kill the smoker himself as well as those surrounding him through second-hand smoke, smoking can cause destruction to property if it is not put out properly. For three adventurers hiking in the mountains and having crossed the Ladner Creek Trestle near Yale and Hope in the Canadian province British Columbia, they have learned a very valuable lesson as a cigarette butt from one of the hikers set fire to the century-old viaduct on Monday. All three were going across the 300+ meter long and 30+ meter tall steel viaduct when one of them didn’t put out the cigarette butt properly. The end result is a fire on the already dilapidated wooden decking, where despite keeping its flame on a small scale, falling and burning debris set off fires deep in the forest-laden,  rocky valley. Neither the hikers were able to put out the fire and fire crews are having difficulties putting the fires out because of the steepness and depth of the Creek valley, according to Canadian news source, CBC. The dry weather may have played a role in the spreading of the fire, which has already burned more than 0.2 acres and taken down several pine trees in the process.  While the viaduct has served as an important outlook as well as a challenging crossing because of its height and curve, it is unknown how extensive the damage is as of present. However, it will be assessed once the fire is finally put out.

The viaduct itself is one of dozens of viaducts that were built in 1915-16 as part of the Kettle Valley Railroad connecting Hope and Penticton via Midway. The line, once part of Canadian Pacific Railroad, was abandoned in sections beginning in 1961 and ending in 1989.  Large portions of the line is now a rails-to-trails and part of the Trans-Canadian Bike Trail Network. Apart from this viaduct, there are dozens of bridges along this route, including 18 viaducts in the Myra Valley. 12 of them were destroyed during the 2003 forest fire but are being rebuilt. Five tunnels also served the route. All of them are considered historically significant and were declared National Historic Sites by the Canadian Government in 2002.

A pair of videos on the Ledner Creek Viaduct which includes some drone and hiking coverage can be seen below so that you can see how Long and tall the structure Looks like. Enjoy!

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The Chronicles will keep you informed on the latest regarding Ledner Creek Viaduct and its questionable future after the most recent fire.

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