Overloaded Bus Crosses Historic Bridge in Arkansas

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Photo taken by James Baughn

Tourist Bus Twice its Size Crosses Suspension Bridge, causing it to sag

EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS (USA)- The Beaver Bridge, built in 1949 and spanning the White River at Table Rock Reservoir in Caroll County, is considered the little Golden Gate Bridge in the eyes of many locals. The bridge is a textbook style suspension; yellow in color, tower, cables and roadway, all 554 feet of it, making the place a tourist attraction.

Yet the bridge almost because a memory and a theater stage for a tragedy caused by stupidity recently. Two tourist busses crossed the bridge as recently as Saturday and in a video produced by Barb Hartman Maher, the second bus trying to cross the structure caused the decking of the suspension bridge to sag by up to three feet. Onlookers tried honking the horn at the bus driver, yet to no avail. One driver even had to turn around after watching the action, fearing that the bus had caused anough damage to keep him off the bridge.

The video of the bus crossing the bridge can be found here:

 

While the bus made it, it is unknown how many passengers were in the bus at that time. The suspension bridge has a weight limit of 10 tons yet the weight of the bus was at least three times as much as what the bridge allowed for weight.

After posting this facebook post, as many as 590,000 people viewed the post with the majority of those who commented on this having been completely angry and demanded that the bus driver take accountability for his actions. As of right now, there has been no information as to what the bus looked like, let alone the license plate number on there. Since the bridge has a weight limit and the driver went well over the limit, it is obvious that the driver had broken theb law and at the same time, put the lives of the passengers at risk. Had the suspension bridge failed, chances are very likely that many people would have lost their lives.

Therefore, we need your help. Any information that could lead to the arrest of the bus driver responsible for violating regulations involving the weight restrictions, reckless driving and negligence of passengers should be forwarded to the local law enforcement authorities as soon as possible. We the people have the right to put a person under arrest for his crimes. Seeing this is definitely a crime that must not slide under any circumstances.

It is unknown if and what kind of repairs may be needed on the bridge, but as a person crossing the bridge, it would be best to find a detour until the bridge is checked over. Thank you for your help in this matter.

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East German Era Bridge to be torn down after fire

apfelsinebr. flöha

1980s era bridge to be torn down because of fire damage despite having been rehabilitated. Fire under investigation.

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FLÖHA (SAXONY), GERMANY- Approximately 13 kilometers east of Chemnitz in the district of Mittelsachsen is the town of Flöha. With a population of 10,130 inhabitants, the city is located at the junction of the River Zschopau and the River Flöha and is loaded with dozens of historic bridges within the radius of 5 kilometers. This includes the Hetzdorf Viaduct, which is to the south and east of the city and used to carry the Dresden-Zwickau-Hof-Nuremberg Magistral Railroad.

One of the bridges that used to serve Flöha was the Apfelsinebrücke. Literally translated as the Orange Bridge because of its original color, the bridge was built in 1983, spanning the River Zschopau at Baumwolle Park and having served pedestrians for three decades. The bridge was recently rehabilitated at the cost of 223,000 Euros (ca. $260,000) as it was one of the last structures to have been damaged by floodwaters in 2013.

Sadly though, the steel deck plate girder is coming down- victim of a fire, which has caused anger among the city council members in Flöha and has gotten police and criminal investigators involved as to finding out what happened to the bridge. According to information by the Chemnitz Free Press and supported by German public channel MDR,  the fire broke out on the bridge on Friday at around 3:00pm, sending smoke up to 500 meters high, making it visible to as far west as Chemnitz. Because of its thickness and wind, residents were ordered to keep all windows and forms of ventilation closed until the fire was under control. Fire crews from Flöha and nearby Falkenau battled the blaze for over an hour, which caused telephone lines to go dead as well as power outage to houses nearby due to wiring going across the bridge. When the fire was finally put out, the spans had partially collapsed. “The fire has bent the steel to a point that the bridge cannot be saved,” says  Volker Holuscha , the mayor of Flöha during an interview with the Free Press. Given the extensive damage of the fire, especially because of high temperature caused by the flame, the incident is being investigated. In the meantime, the city is seeking a plan to replace the structure as soon as possible and will be removing the bridge once the investigation is finished. The fire spells a tragic end to a structure that was loved by many locals in Flöha, especially as the city had spent money to keep it in place for generations to come. Now the fire has burned the project up in smoke. It can only be hoped that a newer bridge that will come will be sturdier and better secured to ensure such a fire will never happen again……

 

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Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 9: Concrete Bed in the River

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AUE (SAXONY), GERMANY-

A first in the Bockau Arch Bridge series since July and a lot has changed since then. It goes beyond the change in the color of the leaves in the fall, as you can see from the picture of the trees flanking the Zwickau Mulde from the old bridge.

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It goes beyond the fact that workers have poured the concrete on the new structure built adjacent to the old bridge. This was done in August and according to latest news from the Chemnitz Free Press, the new B-283 Bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by Christmas, thus ending the detour of Highway B-283 between Aue and Eibenstock in the western part of the Ore Mountains, which has until now been rerouted through Zschorlau and Schneeberg.

It has to do with a finding that was discovered during our most recent visit to the bridge and our Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge Association Meeting on October 9th, something very unpleasant and will most certainly cause legal action because of the violations committed. Despite many headaches trying to download this clip from my camera, this 5-minute film tells all, even without the commentary in English…..

And after crossing the old bridge to get to the Bockau side of the span, we could see the “Schandfleck” in detail. A total “Schande” (shame) because of several reasons!

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According to several sources, the old bridge is supposed to remain in place until it is demolished and removed in the spring in 2019 with a pair of very important exceptions:

1. Since the bridge is still protected by the Denkmalschutzgesetz (German Culture Heritage Law), documentation of the structure will need to be carried out before its removal, which includes ist history, description and historical significance to the Region. If following the Guidelines that exist in the USA, that process could take 1-2 years to complete.

2. The Investigative Committee (Ausschuss), located in the state parliament in Dresden, which took on the petition to save the bridge back in March, has yet to decide on the bridge’s fate. At the present time, the association has three possible suitors that are willing to take ownership of the bridge once the new B-283 Bridge is completed. If Dresden says yes to the proposal, then the association has until March to name the suitor willing to take over ownership of the old bridge. If not, then the green light will have been given to proceed with the removal.

3. Even if Dresden says no, a copy of the Petition was forwarded to Berlin; specifically the Deutschen Bundestag (German Parliament) and the  Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (Geman National Committee for Cultural Heritage), for the bridge carries a federal highway and if therefore responsible for the ownership of the bridge, which is still protected by the Cultural Heritage Laws (Denkmalschutzgesetz). That Petition has been accepted and the bridge is being considered for a program to protect places of interest, thus providing funding for restoring and repurposing the bridge.

Having the concrete bed in the river, according to multiple choices may have violated these agreements and then some, for the Zwickau Mulde is protected by several natural preserve laws on both the state and federal levels. With the concrete bed in the water and despite the two pipes running underneath, it will have the potential to hinder the flow of fish flowing downstream, which could cause unrest from some of the local fisheries and fishing clubs along the river.  Despite the need for having the bed there for the eventual removal of the old bridge, having the bed there is too early and could possibly cause some violations that could result in some legal actions.  A gallery with pictures taken by the author will provide you with some Details.

Photo Gallery:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/X5xVUssmUquNarJT8

To summarize, the old bridge is still standing and can be crossed despite being partially blocked off. Yet the concrete bed indicates that workers want to go ahead and demolish the bridge before Christmas. The new bridge is almost completed and will open between November and December. The fate of the old bridge falls in the hands of both Berlin and Dresden, yet as the bridge is the ownerhship of the federal government, Berlin will have a say, yet if and how the old bridge can be saved is still open. There are interested parties in owning the bridge but the group cannot push forward until the government has a say in the whole debacle. And even if the group gets the go ahead, the decision of who owns it has to be made before spring 2019. And even then, funding will be needed to rehabilitate and restore the bridge.

In other words, one has to happen after another in sequential order, yet some people are trying to make haste by putting the carriage before the horse- meaning tear the bridge down before the ownership transfership is approved and inspite of violations they make be committing.  This mentality is clearly American and has been the target of comments by the German far-right party AfD to compare modernization in Saxony at the cost of historic places of interest to the works of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This commentary, albeit very harsh, is not far from the truth, and should the old Bockau Arch Bridge come down too prematurely, it may serve as a basis for more voters to flock to the AfD and for the current government in Saxony to topple come the state elections in 2019. If the party uses the slogan “Remember the Rechenhausbrücke!” similar to the Alamo in Texas, the people in Saxony will understand why.

Membership to join the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Freunde der Rechenhausbrücke):

There are many ways to join the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge. To join and simply follow the page is as easy as clicking here and liking the page. But to really get involved and help out in saving and supporting the bridge financially and/or through other means, please contact Ulrike Kahl at this E-Mail address: ulrike.kahl@gruene-erzgebirge.de She can provide you with a membership application form and other information on how you can help. You can also contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles if you only speak English but still would like to join.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 22

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U-BAHN Bridge over the River Danube.

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I just visited Vienna recently with my family and was very impressed with the city, its clean living conditions, the people there, the architecture, the history and in particular, the bridges. Over 200 bridges can be found in the capital of Austria, some spanning smaller rivers and streams, others spanning railroads, and especially those that span the Danube River, the longest river in Europe which cuts through the metropolis of 2 million inhabitants. While a short guide on the bridges will come soon. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the spans ober the Danube. This cable-stayed suspension bridge was built in 1997 and carries the subway route 2, going alongside a railroad bridge located only 200 meters away. This was taken while on the boat tour along the Danube.

There will be more of these to come here, but you can check out the pics that were posted on the BHC’s Instagram page. Just click here and enjoy!

Have a good one, People! 🙂

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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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Rebuilding the Blenheim Covered Bridge- a PBS Documentary

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The Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State is one of a few covered bridges that deserves attention because of its unique design. Built in 1855 by Nichols Montgomery Powers, the 232-foot long bridge is a Long through truss bridge with a single gable supporting double barrels. Even though the bridge was modified four times, the last being 1897, the wooden bridge remained in service until 1932 when it was bypassed by a newer bridge. It remained in place until it became victim of Hurricane Irene on 28 August 2011.

Seven years later and with the help of bridge building experts, planners and restorators, the Blenheim Covered Bridge is back in service after two years of a painstaking task to rebuild the structure from scratch. The American public TV provider PBS produced an episode from the NOVA series on this project entitled Operation: Bridge Rescue. There, the nearly hour-long documentary focuses on the reconstruction and relocation of the covered bridge to its final resting place where it can be used again after 87 years of no service.  While a preview of the program can be seen here, a link to the entire program can be found at the end of the article. Enjoy the film and think of some other covered bridges that deserve to be reconstructed for reuse. You may have ideas yourself. 😉

 

Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/operation-bridge-rescue.html

 

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2018 Othmar H. Ammann Awards: Now Accepting Entries

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Scherberg Bridge at dusk and in black and white

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2018 has presented itself with many surprises in all aspects. In particular with bridgehunting and bridge photography, where readers, followers and enthusiasts have been awed by many historic bridges abandoned for many years until discovered most recently, communities where historic bridges that are little mentioned are getting recognition, and historic bridges that are the spotlight for photographers and preservationists who worked successfully to breathe new life into them.

And with that, the 2018 Othmar H. Ammann is now open to business. Between now and December 3rd, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is now accepting entries of (historic) bridges and people who have worked to save them for reuse. Named after the Swiss bridge engineer who left his mark in bridge building in New York and the surrounding area, the Award is given out, both on the national and international levels in te following categories:

Best Bridge Photo

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

Lifetime Achievement (including post mortem)

Tour Guide- Communities, Counties, Districts with a high number of historic and fancy modern bridges

Best Kept Secret- Individual Bridge

Mystery Bridge and

Bridge of the Year.

More details can be found here. You can also find the results of the previous winners of the awards so that you have an idea which bridges, photos, etc. deserve to be entered.

Do you have a bridge, set of bridges, bridge photo(s) or even person(s) who has devoted time and effort to historic bridges that deserve recognition on the national and international levels? Send them here via form or e-mail:

E-mail: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

You have until December 3rd to submit your entries. For bridge photos, please submit them using JPEG and keep it under 1MB, if possible. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Smith using the abovementioned form or e-mail address. Voting will proceed afterwards, ending on 8th January, 2019, with the winners being announced on the 12th.  We will use the same scheme as before with polldaddy yet we may experiment with other options when we vote.  More will come when the entries end and the voting begins.  The contest is open globally. Anyone can enter. 🙂  If you have a bridge worth mentioning or a photo worth showing, let’s see it! 🙂

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