2017 Author’s Choice Awards- Author chooses his best and worst- albeit belatedly

Lakewood Park Truss Bridge, relocated to the middle school in Salina, KS.  Best Example of a Restored HB according to the author.  Photo taken by Jack Schmidt

After a very long delay due to bridge and non-bridge related commitments that needed to be address, it is long past overdue to present the Author’s Choice Awards for 2017. Normally this would have been awarded at the same time as the winners of the Ammann Awards (see the results here). However there were some developments bridgewise that kept me from posting the results. By the time the opportunity came to do that, commitments related to my other job as teacher pushed the posting back much further. Yet, better late than never to announce my pics for 2017, with a promise to be more punctual when I announce the 2018 Author’s Choice Awards in January 2019, the same time as the winners of the 2018 Ammann Awards that will be announced simultaneously.

So without further ado, here we go…..

2017 was an exceptionally hard year for historic bridges for dozens of them worldwide were destroyed either by mother nature in the form of wildfires, flash flooding and other storms or through really unintelligent people ignoring the weight and height restrictions for the purpose of convenience and shortcuts. With the second part we will get to later. Let’s look at my picks for 2017 as the bridges deserve the author choice for the following reasons:

Best Find of a Historic Bridge:

USA: 

While my pics go directly to the state where the government is trying profusely to destroy every single metal truss bridge in the state- namely New Hampshire, two areas with a set of historic bridges deserve to be recognized here. The first one are the bridges of Hinsdale/ Battleboro There, we have a pair of Pennsylvania through truss spans in the Anna Hunt Marsh and the Charles Dana, the Killburn Brook Stone Arch Bridge, the Chesterfield Arch Bridges and a pair of railroad bridges. A tour guide will be made soon as two of the bridges face uncertain futures for even though a replacement bridge is being built on a new alignment downstream, the public is divided between restoring the truss spans and simply demolishing them. One of the proponents of the latter had already defaced the Anna Marsh bridge by removing the planking and appears to be grabbing the city government by the balls to have them fulfill his demands. However, that person is being held at gunpoint by others who disagree.  Michael Quiet produced a pair of videos on the Anna Marsh and Charles Dana spans which you can see here:

Runner-up is a pair of former railroad truss bridges located at Pulp Mill. The older truss span is an 1868 Whipple through truss with vertical endposts featuring Phoenix columns. The 1921 truss is a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge. While both are abandoned, they deserve a second life as a bike crossing, don’t you agree?  The two bridges received the bronze medal in the Ammann Awards competition under Bridge of the Year.

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       International:

Since the beginning of 2017, I had the priviledge to do a bridgehunting tour along the Zwickau Mulde River in the western part of the German state of Saxony. 200 kilometers and consisting of some of the Ammann Award winners of Zwickau, Glauchau, Aue and Rochlitz, plus some candidates in the Lunzenau area, the river region features a tall 150-year old concrete viaduct, several stone arch bridges, big and small, a handful of pre-1930s era truss bridges as well as cantilever and Suspension bridges. All of them are accessible via Mulde bike Trail and if Things go the way the Mayors of Glauchau, Rochlitz and Lunzenau want it to be, the former railroad line connecting Glauchau and Wurzen that runs parallel to the Zwickau Mulde may end up becoming either a Tourist rail line or a “rails-to-trails” route in the next five years. For that reason it deserves the Author’s Choice Awards as a way of motivating them to make this Project happen.

The link to the photos can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheBridgehuntersChronicles/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2061753800510249

 

Best Example of Preserved and Reused Historic Bridge:

USA:

Lakewood Park Truss Bridge. Built in 1877 by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works Company and measured at 99.1 feet Long, this pin-connected Pratt through truss Bridge with Town Lattice Portal bracings was relocated to ist present site, which is the Lakewood Middle School in Salina, Kansas, a few blocks from where it had been originally located. The Bridge serves as living history and a park area for students wishing to relax and learn some history about the structure and ist Connection with Engineering history in the US. The Bridge Looks just like new with ist decking and benches. It is definitely worth a visit and for sure receiving this Award.

International:

While this Bridge received third place in the Ammann Awards under the category Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge, the Ponte Pensil Sao Vicente Suspension Bridge near Santos, Brazil is getting the Author’s Choice Awards for its in-kind restoration of the Suspension Bridge, with new decking and cables, but being able to retain ist structural integrity. This was a masterpiece that is worth the recognition. The Suspension Bridge can now carry vehicles and pedestrians across the river without the fear of collapse.

Most Spectacular Bridge Disasters

USA:

Mother nature has not been kind to mankind this year and has shown ist distaste because of the ignorance of the effects of industrialization, wasting non-renewable resources and too many cars and housing. This includes massive forest fires, die-offs of fish, and especially widespread flash-flooding. For this year’s most Spectacular Bridge Disaster Story, we have two examples from the US, one of which Mother Nature redid a piece of artwork that was perceived as wrong.

The James Bridge in Ozark County was one of four key bridges that were wiped out by flash-floods during the first weekend of May, which also took out the Hammond Mills and Bruns Bridges– the former of which was only 30 years old and a concrete slab bridge; the latter a 130-year-old historic truss bridge. The James Bridge featured a two-span polygonal Warren pony truss bridge with riveted connections that was built in 1958. The flood not only knocked it off ist foundations but it flipped over upside down, thus converting the span into a deck truss. Workers removing the “makeshift deck truss bridge” as well as reporters on the scene were quite impressed with the artwork Mother Nature had left behind as a result. Yet this is the second time in six years this conversion from a pony truss into a deck truss has happened- all in Missouri.

The runner-up was a tight one between another bridge collapse due to flooding and mudslides in California, and this bridge in Atlanta, the I-85 Bridge. This structure fell victim to a blazing inferno on 30 March, causing a 28 meter (92 foot) section to collapse. Investigators later concluded that a combination of improper storage of materials underneath the concrete viaduct and arson resulted in this unfortunate event. Still, this disaster became the new Minneapolis Bridge disaster, for the collapse showed that even potentially dangerous flaws in concrete beam bridges can exist.

 

International:

There were over a dozen well-known bridge disasters in Europe and Africa in 2017, yet there are two stories that stand out and deserve recognition.

The first place winner goes to a bridge in the Indian state of Goa. There, a Whipple pony truss bridge spanning the River Sanvordem at Curchorem collapsed under the weight of people on 18 May. Official reports put the casualty totals of two dead, dozens injured and 30 people missing; many of those missing were presumed dead as the river was infested with crocodiles, which made rescue attempts difficult. Spectators had been on the bridge to watch efforts to rescue someone who wanted to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge. The bridge goes back to the 1800s during the time the Portuguese had control of the Goa Region. As of right now, the bridge, abandoned for many years, is scheduled to be removed. This is the second bridge disaster in two years that included the Goa Region.

The runner-up in this category is the collapse of the Troja Bridge. This bridge goes back to the Communist era and used to span the River Vlatava near the Zoo in Prague. On 2 December, the entire concrete beam structure collapsed, injuring four- two of them seriously. The causes of the collapse stemmed from age and structural deficiency to its weakening as a result of the Great Flood of 2002, forcing officials to monitor the bridge more closely while introducing plans to replace it with a newer, more stable structure.

Biggest Bonehead Story:

In the final category, we look at the Biggest Bonehead Story and this is where we look at stupid people destroying historic bridges for unjustified reasons. We have a lot of good stories that go along with this topic, all of which in the United States. And with that, we will look at Judge Marilyn Milian, the judge for the TV-series The People’s Court.  Since taking over for Judge Wappner in 2005, Ms. Milian has used her sassy commentary and rhetoric to put people in their places for their actions that are both legally and morally wrong. At the same time, she has a zero-tolerance to people doing stupid things as well as making unintelligent comments, sometimes embarassing them on TV. Some classic examples of how the Lady Judge does her work can be seen here:

Back in January 2018, when the Ammann Award winners were being announced, I tried to contact Ms. Milian to see if and how she would react to the following bridge disasters that were caused by stupidity at its finest- all of which will share the Author’s Choice Award for 2017 because of their bizarre nature. That is, had the courts not decided and the cases had been sent to the People’s Court 😉  :

1. Gilliecie Bridge (aka Murtha and Daley): This 130-foot long bowstring arch bridge, built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1874, spans the Upper Iowa River at Cattle Creek Road. It had the weight of three tons before the driver of a grain truck, weighing five times as much as the weight allowed on the bridge, tried to cross it on 5th May. After hitting the eastern portal, the truck and the bridge fell right into the water! The driver wasn’t injured. He later claimed that his GPS device led him to the bridge and afraid that he could cause an accident while backing up, he chanced it. Another Mary Laimbright slash “My GPS made me do it” story but sadly unlike the incident and its after-effects at the bridge where she downed it with a semi-truck in 2015, this bridge in Iowa may have seen its last days before being scrapped. Its future is uncertain.

2. Cedar Covered Bridge: Spanning Cedar Creek near Winterset, this bridge was built in 2004 as a replica of the original 1883 span that was destroyed by arson in 2002. This bridge was torched again, this time by three high school teenagers on 15 April, 2017. There, two of them poured gasoline on the decking while the third one set it ablaze. The bridge was left with a charred Town Lattice truss skeleton after the fire was put out. The person who had set the fire to the bridge was upset after breaking up with his girlfriend, with whom he had spent time on the bridge. Before his sentencing in June, the person wanted to get out on bail so that he could graduate from high school. He was later arrested for setting a car ablaze in March in West Des Moines. For the bridge he torched, he received a deferred sentence of 10 years in prison and five years probation. His two other accomplices also received suspended sentences and probation. Yet this incident is a reminder of another incident at McBride Bridge in 1984, which was caused by heartbreak. That person, who destroyed the bridge, had to help with rebuilding the bridge as part of the sentence. Sometimes hard labor helps shape a man.  By the way, the Cedar Bridge is being rebuilt again, for the third time. Opening date remains open.

3. Longwood Lane Pony Truss Bridge: Spanning Cedar Run in Fauquier County, Virginia, this pony truss bridge had a very quiet life until a UPS Delivery Truck crossed it on July 17th- or should I say the driver tried to cross it, but it fell in the water. So much for the delivery, not to mention the job as a delivery person. The fastest sometimes had the worst.

This leads to the question of how Judge Milian would handle this, had she seen these three cases in the People’s Court? Would she handle them like above, or even in a case below? What examples an be used? And who would win the case: the owners of the bridges (all of them had been owned a the county) or the defendant? And if the plaintiff, how much would the defendant have to pay- financially and timewise in jail?

This is where the forum is open to the judge, but also to the followers of the People’s Court. 😉

And this wraps up the 2017 Author’s Choice Awards for some of the most bizarre bridge stories. There will be much more for the 2018 Author’s Choice Awards, as there are enough stories to go around there. They will be posted when the winners of the 2018 Ammann Awards come out in January. This time the author means it when he says it will come very timely next time around. So stay tuned! 🙂

 

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2015 Ammann Awards: The Author has some bridge stories to tell

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To start off this new year, there are some good news as well as some bad news. First the bad news: The deadline for entries for the 2015 Ammann Awards has been pushed back again for the last time. This time the 10th of January at 12:00am Central Standard Time (January 11th at 7:00am Central European Time) is the absolute deadline for all entries, including that for Best Photo, Lifetime Achievement and other categories. Reason for the delay is the low number of entries, much of that has to do with the weather disaster of biblical proportions in the United States and Great Britain, which has kept many away from the cameras and forced many to fill sandbags. The the voting process will proceed as planned with the winners being announced at the end of this month.

The good news: The author has enough candidates and stories to justify announcing his choices for 2015- the first to be announced before the actual Ammann Awards presentations but one that should keep the interest in historic bridges running sky high, especially before the main course. In other words, the author is serving his appetizers right now to keep the readers and candidates hungry for more bridge stuff. 😉

So here is our first appetizer: The Biggest Bonehead Story

Photo taken by Tony Dillon

USA:

Truck Destroys Gospel Street Bridge in Paoli, Indiana- Ever since Christmas Day, this story has been the hottest topic in the media, even breaking records of the number of post clicks on the Chronicles. A 23-year-old woman, who claimed to be Amish, drives a 30-ton truck full of drinking water across the 1880 Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company structure that was only able to carry 6 tons. Naturally, the bridge gave in, yet the excuses the driver brought up became more and more incredulable: 1. I just received my driver’s license, 2. I couldn’t turn around or find an alternative so I took the chance, and 3. (Most outrageous): I didn’t know how many pounds equaled six tons.

Yet the question remains, which was more incredulable: The incident or the consequence of the incident: a mere $135 fine for crossing the light-weight bridge, destroying it in the process?

International:

Viaduct Collapses in Sicily- 2015 was not a good year for bridges outside of the USA, for several key (historic) crossings have met their fate or are about to due to human error. A temporary pedestrian bridge in Johannesburg (South Africa) falls onto the motorway crushing two cars. A pedestrian suspension bridge in New Zealand breaks a cable, causing the decking to twist and send hikers into the water.  Fortunately, no casualties. Both incidents happened in October. The highest glass bridge in the world, located in China, is cracking even though the government says it is safe.

But this bridge collapse on the island of Sicily, which happened in January, was a scandal! The Scorciavacche Viaduct near Palermo was completed in December 2014, three months earlier than scheduled, only for it to collapse partially on January 5th, 10 days after its opening! While no one was hurt, the collapse sparked a political outcry as the multi-million Euro bridge was part of the 200 million Euro motorway project, and as a consequence, officials prompted an investigation into the cause of the bridge. The construction company, which claimed that the accident was caused by “substinence,” tried shooting down the accusations, claiming the accident was overexaggerated. Makes the reader wonder if they tried covering up a possible design flaw, combined with human error, which could have caused the collapse. If so, then they have the (now jailed) Captain of the capsized Costa Concordia to thank, for like the ship that has been towed away and scrapped, the bridge met the same fate. Lesson for the wise: More time means better results. Check your work before opening it to others.

 

 

Best Historic Bridge Find:

While the author stayed out of the US for all of 2015 and focused his interesting findings on European soil, other bridge colleagues have found some bridges that had been either considered gone or had never been heard of before. One of these colleagues from Minnesota happened to find one that is still standing! 🙂

 

USA:

Bridge L-1297 in Clearwater County, Minnesota-

According to records by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Schonemann Park Bridge, located south of Luverne in Rock County, is the only example of a Waddell kingpost truss bridge left standing in Minnesota. This 1912 bridge is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge L-1297, which spans the Clearwater River near Gronvich in Clearwater, is the OTHER Waddell kingpost pony truss bridge that is still standing. Its markings matches exactly that of its Schonemann counterpart. Although there is no concrete evidence of when it was built and by whom, Pete Wilson, who found it by chance and addressed it to the Chronicles, mentioned that it was likely that it was built between 1905 and 1910 by the Hewett family, which built the bridge at Luverne. In either case, it is alive, standing albeit as a private crossing, and should be considered for the National Register. Does anybody else agree? 🙂

International:

The Bridges of Zeitz, Germany

It is rare to find a cluster of historic bridges that are seldomly mentioned in any history books or bridge inventory. During a bike tour through eastern Thuringia in March, I happened to find a treasure in the hills: A dozen historic bridges within a 10 km radius, half of which are in the city of 29,000 inhabitants, including the ornamental Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge located on the east end of town. Highly recommended the next time you pass through the area. These bridges will be profiled further in the coming year because of their aesthetic and historic value, which makes the town, resembling an East German bygone era, more attractive. Check them out! 🙂

 

Spectacular Disasters:

Flooding and Fires dominated the headlines as Mother Nature was not to kind to the areas affected, thus they were flooded, destroying historic bridges in the path. If there was no flooding, there were dry spells prompting fires that burned down everything touched. While there were several examples of historic bridges destroyed by nature, the author has chosen two that standout the most, namely because they were filmed, plus two runners-up in the international category. Fortunately for the bridge chosen in the US category, there is somewhat of a happy ending.

Photo by James MacCray

USA:

Full Throttle Saloon Fire-  Only a few weeks after celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Motorcycle Rally at the World’s largest saloon, the Full Throttle Saloon was destroyed by a massive fire on September 8th. Two of the historic bridges, relocated here to serve as overlook platforms and stages, were damaged by the blaze with the bridge decking being completely burned away. While the saloon was considered a total loss, bar owner Michael Ballard is planning on rebuilding the bar complex and has already lined up concert events including the upcoming Motorcycle Rally in August. More on how you can help rebuild here. Whether the bridges will be part of the plan is unclear, but given the effort to bring in the structure, it is likely that they will be kept and be part of the project as well. More on the project will follow, but things are really looking up for bikers and bridge lovers alike. 🙂

 

International:

300-year old arch bridge washed out by flooding-

While there was a three-way tie for spectacular natural disasters done to the historic bridges on the international front, this concrete arch bridge in Tadcaster in the UK stands out the most. The bridge collapsed on December 29th as floodwaters raged throughout much of the northern part of Great Britain. It was one of dozens of bridges that were either severely damaged or destroyed during the worst flooding on record. The saddest part was not the video on how the bridge fell apart bit by bit, but the bridge was over 300 years old. Demolition and replacement of the bridge is expected to commence at the earliest at the end of this year once the damages are assessed and the clean-up efforts are under way.

Runners-up:

Coach takes a swim under a culvert in Brazil:

Two runners-up in this category also have to do with bridge washouts due to flooding. One of them is this culvert wash-out in Brazil. A video submitted to the French magazine LeMonde shows what can happen if engineers choose a culvert over a replacement bridge, as this coach sank into the raging creek, went through the culvert and swam away! :-O Fortunately all the passengers evacuated prior to the disaster, however, it serves as a warning to all who wish to cut cost by choosing a culvert over a new bridge- you better know what you are getting into, especially after watching the video below.

 

Massive Panic as Bridge is washed out in India-

The other runner-up takes us to the city of Chennai in India, where flash flooding wreaked havoc throughout the city. At this bridge, the pier of a concrete bridge gave way as a large wave cut up the crossing in seconds! Massive panic occurred, as seen in the video seen below:

 

 

Dumbest Reason to destroy a historic bridge:

The final category for this year’s Author’s Choice Award goes to the people whose irrational decision-making triggered the (planned) destruction of historic bridges. This year’s candidates features two familiar names that are on the chopping block unless measures on a private scale are undertaken to stop the wrecking ball. One of the bridges is an iconic landmark that is only 53 years old.

Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer
Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer

USA:

BB Comer Bridge in Alabama- Three years of efforts to raise awareness to a vintage cantilever bridge went up in smoke on November 14th, when county officials not only rejected the notion for a referendum on saving the BB Comer Bridge in Scotsboro, but also turned down any calls for the matter to be brought up for all time to come. While the organization promoting the preservation of the bridge claimed that the city and Jackson County would not need to pay for the maintenance of the bridge, officials were not sold on the idea of having the bridge become a theme park, which would have been a win-win situation as far as producing funds for the tourism industry is concerned. Instead, behind closed doors, the contract was signed off to convert the 1930 bridge into scrap metal, giving into the value of the commodity. Talk about short-sightedness and wrist slitting there!

 

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International:

Fehmarn Bridge to come down- In an effort to push through the Migratory Freeway through Fehmarn Island and down the throats of opposing residents, the German Railways condemned the world’s first basket weave tied arch bridge, built in 1963 to connect the island with the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The official reason was too much rust and any rehabilitation would prolong the bridge’s life by only 20 years- highly disputable among the preservationists and civil engineers given the number of concrete examples of rehabilitated bridges lasting 50+ years. Yet many locals believe that the German Railways is pushing for the bridge to be removed in favor of its own railroad crossing that would carry Fernzüge from Hamburg to Copenhagen, eliminating the ferry service between Puttgarten and Rodby in Denmark. The fight however is far from over as the campaign to save the island and its cherished architectural work is being taken to the national level, most likely going as far as Brussles if necessary. In addition, lack of funding and support on the Danish side is delaying the tunnel project, threatening the entire motorway-bridge-tunnel project to derail. If this happens, then the next step is what to do with the Fehmarn Bridge in terms of prolonging its life. The bridge is in the running for Bridge of the Year for the 2015 Ammann Awards for the second year in a row, after finishing a distant second last year.

 

AND NOW THE VOTING PROCESS AND RESULTS OF THE 2015 AMMANN AWARDS, WHICH WILL BEGIN STARTING JANUARY 11th, AS SOON AS THE DEADLINE FOR ALL ENTRIES PASSES. HURRY TO ENTER YOUR PHOTOS, BRIDGES, AND PERSONS DESERVING HONORS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!

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Newsflyer: 3 February, 2015

Plaka Bridge in Epirus, Greece- now gone. Photo courtesy of Inge Kanakaris-Wirtl.

One Historic Bridge Gone by Mother Nature, Another Destroyed Illegally, Another Disappears but One is Restored and Reused

Greece has been a thorn in the side of the European Union since 2010, or rather the EU has been a thorn in the side of Greece, if looking at it from Prime Minister Tsipras, who was recently elected and has promised changes not pleasing to Brussels. Yet with recent flooding going on in Greece, he will have more to do at home, as clean-up efforts are taking place. This includes rebuilding historic bridges, like this one, the 1866 Plaka Bridge. That bridge was destroyed by flooding, while the other two bridges to be mentioned in the Newsflyer have also disappeared mysteriously. How this happened will be featured here in the Chronicles’ Newsflyer.

Plaka Bridge in Greece Falls to Flooding

INOANNINA, GREECE: Located 400 km northwest of Athens, the Plaka Bridge was one of Greece’s prized treasures. Built in 1866 by Constantinos Bekas, this vaulted arch bridge spanned the Arachthos River, and tourists had an opportunity to view the beautiful and steep valley. Unfortunately, rainwaters swelled the river to the point where flooding wreaked havoc in the region. This bridge collapsed on Sunday as a result of  flooding. Photos from a local newspaper shows that the entire arch span fell into the water, leaving the abutments remaining. A video shows the bridge remains while a Bailey Truss Bridge was constructed to allow for one lane traffic to cross. While Tspiras is sending aid to the region as well as experts to determine the extent to the damage in the region, experts from a polytechnical university in Athens are being summoned to the region once the floodwaters subside to look at the bridge remains and produce a design for a replica of the bridge. This is the second bridge of its kind that has succumbed to either mother nature or man-made disasters. The Stari Most Bridge in Bosnia-Herzegovina was destroyed in the Yugoslavian Civil War in 1993. It took 11 years to rebuild the Ottoman structure. It is unknown how long it will take until the Plaka Bridge is rebuilt. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the developments.

Oblique view of the Hammond Railroad Bridge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Historic Bridge Illegally Destroyed for Scrap Metal

HAMMOND, INDIANA: Police and local officials are looking for a group of people responsible for the dismantling and demolition of an abandoned railroad bridge spanning the Grand Calumet River in Hammon. Ronald Novak, director of the Hammond .Department of Environmental Management received a tip from locals on Thursday of a group of people taking the bridge apart, which was located west of Hohmann Avenue, using bulldozers and other cutting tools to pull the main span into the river. The fallen span presents a double danger, where cresolate, a chemical used to coat wooden rail ties could dissolve in the river, and the steel structure itself could cause blockage of the river. The Army Corps of Engineers has been notified of the matter. It has been suspected that the crew tore the structure down not because of its abandonment for over a decade, but because of the scrap metal, whose value has been sitting high for many years. Because the demolition process was not approved by the City, your help is needed to find the people responsible for tearing down the bridge without permission. Any tips should be given to the police or the City as soon as possible. The 1909 railroad bridge itself was unique because it was a two-span Warren through truss bridge functioning as a Page bascule bridge. More information can be found here. With the Hammon Bridge destroyed, there is only one bridge of its kind left in the US, located in Chicago.

 

Abandoned Iowa Bridge Disappears

OSKALOOSA, IOWA:  Local pontists are looking for clues behind the disappearance of an iron through truss bridge spanning the North Skunk River at Yarnell Avenue, a half mile north of Iowa Hwy. 92. A product of the King Bridge Company, the Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal bracing had been abandoned for many years and was reported present in 2012. However upon recent visit by one of the pontists, the bridge disappeared. The question is now narrowed down to how the bridge disappeared, whether flooding washed it away or the bridge was torn down. More information is needed and leads should be posted in the bridgehunter.com website under Yarnell Avenue Bridge.

 

San Saba Railroad Bridge Restored and In Use

SAN SABA COUNTY, TEXAS: Spanning the Colorado River at the San Saba and Mills County border, this bridge received the Author’s Choice Award in 2013 after a fire burned the trestle approach span (all 800 of the 1050 feet bridge) to the ground. The good news is that the bridge has been rebuilt. JCF Bridge and Concrete Company, a local company, rebuilt the trestle last year in order for the Heart of Texas Railroad to resume rail service. A gallery of photos show the finished work, which you can see here. Made of steel and concrete, this portion of the bridge will allow trains to run heavier equipment across the river at moderate speed. As for the Warren through truss main span, that bridge was spared from the fire as well as the replacement process and can still be seen from US 190, just a half mile south of the bridge.

 

2014 Ammann Awards: The Author Chooses the Best Bridge Stories

Bentonsport Bridge spanning the Des Moines River in Van Buren County, Iowa. Photo taken in December 2014

To start off the Author’s Choice Award version of the 2014 Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, I would like to present you with an overture which is in connection with this year’s theme: Bigger is not always better. Enjoy!

 

This year’s Author’s Choice Awards features some of the most interesting stories of how people have come together to save their valued work. However, we have a story of a bridge found underneath a pub, as well as a failed attempt to salvage a historic bridge, and a disaster caused by gravity. And finally stupidity at its finest- caught on tape and youtubed! So without further ado, here are my pics for 2014:

Most Spectacular Disaster:

USA:

Ledbetter Bridge in Kentucky- Spanning the Tennessee River, this 1931 three-span polygonal Warren through truss bridge was one of the latter works of architectural art built by Polish engineer, Ralph Modjeski (1861-1940). The bridge no longer exists as it was removed last month, several weeks after a replacement span 700 feet downstream opened to traffic, but one cannot help but watch sections of the bridge collapse on its own, as seen in the photo gallery here.  After reporting one of the approach spans dropping by two feet in 24 hours, officials fenced off the entire bridge, only to later watch sections of it fall on the shoreline. Cause: Erosion undermining the piers, plus some vultures perching on the railings of the affected spans, as the photographer stated.

International: 

Cherryvale Bridge in New Brunswick, Canada- Covered bridges have been especially hardest hit this year, as fire, oversized trucks and natural disasters have damaged or destroyed over three dozen bridges in North America and elsewhere. The Cherryvale Bridge in the province of New Brunswick was one of those unfortunate victims, as floodwaters knocked the 1870s wooden structure off its foundations in May, and the structure flowed downstream before being smashed against a concrete bridge carrying a highway. More on this story hereAs beloved as they are, covered bridges are usually rebuilt by demand from residents. This is the case as well, but will it happen with this bridge? We’ll have to see….

 

Best Historic Bridge Find:

USA: 

Rocky Balboa Railroad Bridge in Durham, North Carolina- This railroad underpass, featuring a 100-year old deck plate girder span, may be a typical bridge accomodating rail traffic. But (and the music from Rocky Balboa will support this), it has had a record of annihilating semi trucks and trailers, as well as tractors, busses, and other overweight vehicles. This DESPITE having every form of warning system and sign in place. Here’s a video to prove it:

 

International:

The Parade Bridge in Norwood (South) Australia- Australia has a wide variety of metal, concrete and wooden bridges dating back to the early 1800s. This bridge, located underneath a pub, was found by chance by the owner as the venue was undergoing extensive renovations. Made of parapet and cobblestone and built in the 1850s, this bridge has a unique history, which can be found here.

Honorable mentioned: The Kersten Miles Bridge in Hamburg, Germany- Built in 1897 and named after the mayor of Hamburg during the Medieval times, this arch bridge is one of the darlings of Hamburg one needs to see, if one wants to know which of the 2,500+ bridges should be visited in the second largest city in Germany. Apart from its ornamental appearance and the fact that the bridge is made of brick, a recent discovery of a pflaster mosaic underneath one of the spans is another reason to visit this unique landmark. More on this discovery can be found here.

Best Way to Salvage a Historic Bridge: USA:

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span- The 1936 eastern half, consisting of cantilever truss spans, was replaced with a cable-stayed span with concrete girders last year and is still being dismantled even as we speak. Yet one person is looking at salvaging parts of the bridge for sustainable housing developments. Although it would look unusual to today’s housing standards, as seen in the article here, it would at least preserve the legacy of the eastern half of the bridge, which partially collapsed in the earthquake in 1989.

Also worth mentioning: Devil’s Elbow Bridge in Pukaski County, Missouri- The Freedom Prime Bridge and this bridge were two of the candidates considered for the author’s choice awards. Yet while Freedom received some accoldaes for best preservation example, this 1923 two-span Parker truss bridge got this one for two reasons: 1. The bridge was part of the Mother Road (Route 66) and because of the importance of the crossings along the highway that had once connected Chicago and Los Angeles, efforts are being undertaken to save what is left of this historic highway. 2. The bridge underwent an extensive renovation, which included new decking, sandblasting and repainting the trusses and making the bridge look just like it was when opened 91 years ago. The bridge should set an example for a pair of other crossings that have recently been rendered unsafe and whose futures are in doubt. More here

International: Katzenbuckel Bridge in Ebenhausen, Bavaria (Germany)- Spanning a rail line near Augsburg in Bavaria, this arch bridge was in the way of progress, for the German Railways want to expand the line and electrify it. The solution: Instead of razing the structure because of its historic significance, the plan is to raise the bridge to better accomodate traffic. Impressive but also one that will have other regions with similar bridges to consider this option, for there are enough candidates to go around. More on the plan can be found here.

Photo taken by James Baughn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worst Example of Restoring/Using a Historic Bridge

USA:  Blue River US 40 Bridge in Kansas City, Missouri- Preservationists and locals are scratching their heads about this 1931 bridge, a steel through arch bridge that is the product of a pair of local bridge builders. The bridge was dismantled to make way for its replacement in August, but in a way that the parts were cut apart and left in a pile, waiting to be taken to its new home in Grandview. Photos of the bridge before and after its dismantling can be found here. Given the “logic” behind this process, the first and foremost question that comes to mind is: How are you going to put the structure back together again without altering its historic integrity? Or are you going to scrap it? My prediction: Its induction into Nathan Holth’s Wall of Shame.

International: Kramer Bridge in Erfurt, Germany- This bridge in the news but in a negative sense. The face of Thuringia’s capital was the focus of a drug operation, used in the German mystery series, Tatort (Scene of the Crime). The episode was aired in December and drew fire from viewers who deemed both the usage and the content to be inappropriate. Shortly after the release, two of the three actors resigned and the German channel MDR decided to scrap the Erfurt series. Lessons on how Tatort should be produced and how places of interest should be used without degrading it should be given by those who have been with the series for over 2 out of the four decades of its existence on German TV, including the likes of Ulike Folkerts, Axel Prahl and Jan Josef Lieffers, who play investigators for their cities (Ludwigshafen and Muenster, respectively.)

 

Biggest Bonehead Story We had a lot of candidates for this category, many of whom just could not learn to shorten the height of and/or lighten the weight of the load. The end result: covered bridges losing their tops and other bridges dropping to the ravine with their load on it. Yet only two examples really standout and should serve as a signal to truck drivers to NOT rely solely on GPS and assumptions, but to obey the traffic signs, or face liabiity.

Pollock’s Mill Bridge in Jefferson, Pennsylvania- Spanning Ten Mile Creek near Jefferson, this single span Whipple through truss bridge, built in 1878 by the Massilon Bridge Company in Ohio is one of the last remaining iron bridges in western Pennsylvania. Yet it almost became a hunk of twisted metal after a tanker truck tried crossing the structure, only to fall partially through the decking. To make matters worse, the driver dumped liquid contents into the stream to lighten the load and keep it from collapsing. A double-environmental catastrophe. Yet with two trucks following him, he should have known better than to first drive through the height restricted underpass located just a half mile before the bridge and then try crossing this bridge, right? Leadership prevents stupid things from happening. Fortunately, the bridge will be repaired and nothing was severely adversed in the water. However, as the article stated here, it could have been worse…..

Watford Bridge in North Dakota- Spanning the Little Missouri River at US Hwy. 85, this Warren through truss with V-laced portal bracings has dealt with a lot in the 55 years in service, especially as it is located near the Bakken Oil Fields. This includes oversized vehicles crossing it and damaging the overhead bracing. Sometimes stupidity is best shown on video, and the truck driver probably did not realized how much of an idiot he was for ignoring the height restrictions until watching the amateur video taken by another truck driver and his passenger, who  spiced it up with some commentary (Note- some comments may not be suitable for children under 13.)

 

This sums up my picks for 2014. As you can see, we had some interesting stories, all caught on photos and film in hopes that drivers pay attention to their load when using the bridges. Because even the most modern bridges can only take so much. Take this advice in mind: Less is Always More, regardless of the gas price.  After watching the videos and reading the articles pertaining to the bridge picks, have a look at the winners of the 2014 Ammann Awards coming up in the next article…..

 

Now taking articles and candidates for Bridge Tours and Best Example of Historic Bridge Preservation

Schonemann Park Bridge south of Luverne, MN. The state’s only Waddell pony truss bridge that has been a centerpiece of the park since 1990. Photo taken in August 2014

While the 2014 Othmar H. Ammann Awards are only a couple months away, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is already taking entries for two categories: The City Tour Award and Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. The reasons are twofold:

1. 2014 has been a year of record number of historic bridges being restored in the United States, both in terms of covered bridges and bridges made of concrete and metal that are more than 50 years old- a reversal of the trend from 2013, where several key historic bridges were lost to demolition or severely damaged by overweight trucks and arson.

While some of the examples posted in the last half year can be seen on the Chronicles’ facebook and twitter pages, the Chronicles would like to look at how the bridges were restored and the efforts that were undertaken by the public to have their historic symbol of their communities restored. A page on Best Preservation Examples is already on the Chronicles’ page with an opportunity for you to contribute.

 

2. The City Tour category was introduced last year, being spun out from the Best Kept Secret Award and features cities and regions with a cluster of historic bridges that exist, ranging from villages, such as Bertram, Iowa, to parks like the Historic Bridge Park in Michigan, to cities, like Lubeck and Halle in Germany. This category was well received to a point where it will be introduced again this year, but will go even further. The Chronicles is featuring a page on Bridge Tours and Lost Bridges, where you have an opportunity to look at the bridges you can expect to see when visiting the regions. A handful of cities and regions have already been posted (you can click here), and we would like to expand it based on your contributions.

 

Here is your opportunity to contribute as a guest writer or interviewee for both categories.  If you either:

  1. Have a historic bridge that has recently been restored or is currently undergoing a rehabilitation process  or
  2. Know of a city, county/district or region that has more than four bridges that are more than 60 years of age and have some historical significance or
  3. Know of a region that was once populated with historic bridges but has now dwindled to one or two left,

Then provide a summary of 1-3 pages with information on the bridges or restoration project, as well as some photos of the bridges, to be sent to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

It will then be showcased on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles for reader to look at and perhaps use either as a reference for their own bridge restoration projects or an incentive to visit these regions. The examples will automatically be nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards, where the people will vote on in December and the winners will be announced in January.

Entries for this year’s Ammann Awards are due 30 November. Those coming in after that date will automatically be nominated for the 2015 Ammann Awards.  The Chronicles will accept all entries in the United States, Canada, Europe and other regions for the Awards will be divided up into American and International categories.

Please ensure that each photo has a source so that it can be cited accordingly, either on the Chronicles page, the Chronicles’ flickr page or both.  You may be contacted for an interview by the Chronicles with regards to the restoration project or additional information about the submitted bridges in the region. Please ensure that the contact information is made available so that the interview can be conducted as soon as possible.  Announcements on the voting process will be made at the close of the submissions on 30 November.  Any questions or clarifications needed can be submitted to the Chronicles.

 

By presenting examples of restored historic bridges as well as regions with a high number of historic bridges, people will be able to take the opportunity to have a look at the various success stories of preserved historic bridges while at the same marvel at the historic bridges that are characteristic of the regions, thus encouraging more people to visit and learn more about historic bridges. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of historic bridges and their contribution to the history of transportation, as well as ways to preserve them for generations to come.  The goal is to preserve the past in the present for people in the future to see and learn about them.

 

Important Announcement: Entries for the other categories- Best Bridge Photo, Bridge of the Year, Mystery Bridge, Lifetime Achievement, Best Kept Secret (individual bridge), and the Author’s Choice Awards will be taken starting October 1st. More information will follow, but those interested in nominating their bridge(s) may want to have them prepared for submission to the Chronicles beforehand.

 

San Saba Trestle Wins Spectacular Disaster Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trestle Fire wins Run-Off; I-5 Skagit River and New Castle Bridges tied for second.

Within 25 seconds, it was just gone, and then it just turned into a giant fireball, because of all of the creosote in the cross-ties.- Jack Blossmann

All it took was a combination of heat, dry weather and a spark from a passing train, and a 900-foot long wooden trestle bridge with a more than 100-year history, was engulfed in flames. 30 seconds later, it all came tumbling down, like a stack of dominoes. The San Saba Trestle Bridge near Lometa (located 90 miles west of Waco) spanned the Colorado River and featured a steel through truss span over the river and hundreds of feet of wooden trestle on the west end. Yet its demise created some curiosity among the readers as seen in the video here.  If a teacher shows this disaster to the students in class and they are awed by the sequential cascading disaster, as one of the voters noted, then there is no wonder that the San Saba Bridge would receive the devious prize it deserves. After a week-long run-off vote, the Texas trestle received the Spectacular Disaster Award because of the intense effects of the fire and the bridge’s sequential disaster that followed seconds later. The video shown of the disaster will definitely be shown in many engineering and physics classes to show how dangerous a fire can do to a structure, whose melting temperature is low enough for it to collapse. A devastating loss for the railroad, for it needs $10 million to replace the trestle approach spans, but one that created a lot of curiosity among bridge engineers and scientists alike.

The Trestle beat out the New Castle and Skagit River Bridge Disasters, as they were tied for second place, missing out by only two votes each. This marks the first time in the history of the (recently changed) Author’s Choice Award,  that two bridges received two different awards or honorable mentions in two different categories. The New Castle Bridge west of Oklahoma City had already received the Award for the Worst Preservation Example as the 10-span through truss bridge over the Canadian River was reduced to only one span, thanks to a tornado that destroyed two spans and the city government’s decision to demolish all but one of the remaining spans. It was the same tornado that destroyed Moore and devastated vast parts of Oklahoma City.

The Skagit River crossing in Washington state had received the honorable mention for the Biggest Bonehead Story, as a truck driver dropped the southernmost span into the river after hitting the portal bracing. While this incident raised the debate on what to do with through truss bridges, suggestions by local politicians were above and beyond. The collapsed span has since been replaced and I-5 has returned to normal.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to thank everybody for voting in this year’s Ammann Awards and parts of the Author’s Choice Awards. As mentioned in the previous article, the voting format and the dates of the voting for this year’s 2014 Ammann Awards will be different as there will be more options but more simplicity to encourage people to vote on their candidates. It may be like the Bridge Bowl, but it might serve as a way to talk about the bridge candidates at the table, while serving traditional foods over the holidays. Entries will be taken in November, as usual, so go out there and get some pics, write about your favorite bridges and nominate your favorite historian.

Minus the Post Humous version of the Lifetime Legacy, let’s head back out there and look at the bridges that need your help regarding preservation, shall we?

New from the Chronicles

View of Quinn Creek Bridge (in Fayette County) from a distance. Photo taken by James Baughn.

As we wrap up the 2013 Ammann and Smith Awards, the author of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to make a few announcements regarding some changes and other items that will be brand new to the online column for this year.  We’ll start off with the Ammann Awards:

Author’s Choice Award or Bridge Bowl?

After receiving an enormous amount of entries this year and having some issues with the voting ballot, the Chronicles will be making some changes in terms of the structure as well as the voting process. Apart from including the category of Tour Guide Award and changing the name of Smith’s Award to Author’s Choice Awards, the dates of the Awards will also change to a certain degree.

While the number of entries for the respective categories will not be limited nor will the deadline for entries be changed, the voting deadline will be pushed back to January 6th, the Day of Epiphany for the 2014 Awards and beyond. That means entries will be accepted throughout November, but you will have a chance to vote on the bridges and/or pontist through Christmas and New Year, so that you have a chance to have a look at the candidates in each category carefully before voting. The changes have already been made in the Ammann Awards page of the Chronicles, which you can see on bar in the home page.

In addition to that, the voting process will change in time for the 2014 Awards. This means that there will be more embrace in 2.0 technology and social networks, enabling voters to interact and vote more quickly and efficiently. This includes (but is not limited to) the usage of facebook, linkedIn and Pininterest, creating videos of the bridge candidates through YouTube and Go Animate to be made available on the ballot, including the ballot on this blog, and making the ballot in Word format more user friendly. In short, more options to vote will mean more participation and less complication. By the time the Awards starts up again in November, a new and improved voting process will take shape. Other suggestions can be brought up either in the comment section or via e-mail.

New RSS Feed

The Chronicles now has a new RSS feed, so that you can subscribe to the page and read it wherever you go. Just click on the orange symbol under Subscription Options and you can receive the page on any computer device. You can also receive an e-mail subscription of the Chronicles. Just click on the envelop symbol in the options and follow the instructions on how to obtain the articles via e-mail. Both RSS feeds are courtesy of FeedBurner, which cooperates with Yahoo and other engines.  Other Subscription option symbols will be added in the next weeks, including that of flickr, PinInterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and others. Even the podcast of the Chronicles is being considered for experimental purposes. More information to come as some changes are made there.

New Stuff from the Chronicles:

While it has been experimented, the Chronicles will have more features for you to look at as you read along. For instance, a Glossary page has been set up, which will feature words associated with historic bridges and preservation practices and policies. While it is based on the Preservation ABCs, provided by Preservation in Pink, we will not be going in alphabetical order, but the words will be presented at random and through articles with some examples. While the author has some words to add to the Glossary via articles, you can also help. If you have some words to add to the Glossary, please submit them via e-mail with some examples to help, and they will be posted.

Also new will be the Bridge Tour Page, where articles about regions with a high concentration of bridges will be added, to provide you with an opportunity to plan your trip around visiting these bridges. As you saw in the 2013 Ammann Awards, there are plenty of places to see where you can photograph their bridges in a few hours’ time and still have fun at the beach or hiking in the woods.  The Tour page will include regions once populated with historic bridges but are more or less gone- the “Lost Bridges” Tour page. If you know of regions in that category, write to the Chronicles about it and it will be added- along with the pictures, of course. Individual Success Stories and Book/Media of the Month will remain as well.

 

Writers wanted!

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is looking for a few volunteer writers to write about the topics already mentioned here. If you would like to be a Guest Writer and write about some of your bridge topics, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. There’s no obligation as to how often you should write, just as long as the topics you write about are interesting to the readers. Advantage: you can put in your resumé that you did some writing on the side as a way of enhancing your career chances in the fields of journalism, history and preservation.

 

Run-Off Vote due at Midnight!

To round things off, a reminder that the run-off vote for the Smith’s Awards for Spectacular Bridge Disasters will end this evening at 12:00am Central Time or 7:00am Berlin Time. The winner will be announced tomorrow. The candidates once again are the following:

CANDIDATE 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugaVS4615P8

CANDIDATE 2: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/06/10/what-to-do-with-a-hb-the-newcastle-bridge/

CANDIDATE 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLVKb1HxhAY

Submit your votes via e-mail or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. The winner will be announced via Chronicles tomorrow during the course of the day.