Calls are being given to all drivers to obey weight and height limits on bridges after historic bridge collapses in Nova Scotia, Canada
CANSO (NOVA SCOTIA), CANADA/ REDWOOD FALLS (MINNESOTA), USA- Government officials on local, state and national levels are urgently calling on truck drivers to beware of weight and height restrictions on bridges before crossing. This includes crossing bridges with overhead coverings, such as through truss bridges and covered bridges, but also light weight bridges and underpasses.
This is in response to an incident that happened yesterday in the town of Canso, in the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia. There, a semi truck tried to cross the Canso Truss Bridge, a riveted Pratt through truss bridge connecting Durell’s Island with the main land. The truck made it halfway across the structure when the decking gave out and the trusses folded like a deck of cards, sending the truck and the driver 7 meters into the water. The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries. Another person who guided the truck onto the bridge got off before the collapse happened. A video and a link to the article about the incident is below.
The bridge, which was the main link to the island was scheduled to be replaced because of its age and structural obsoleteness. Workers had been doing some prep work for a new bridge built alongside the nearly century old structure. A temporary crossing is in the works, yet ferry service has been made available for the island’s residents.
The incident came as officials in Redwood and Renville Counties in Minnesota recently installed “headache” bars at another historic bridge. The Gold Mine Bridge is a Parker through truss bridge spanning the Minnesota River at county highway 17 near the village of Delhi. It was one of two known surviving works of German engineer- later politician, Lawrence H. Johnson, who built the structure in 1903. Truck drivers have reported to have crossed the bridge despite it having a five ton weight limit. Currently, nearby bridges at county highways 6 and 101 are being rebuilt. A bar with the height of 8.5 feet (2 meters) has been erected at both ends of the bridge and a speed limit of 10 mph has been enforced.Truckers needing to cross the Minnesota River are urged to use the Hwy. 71 and 19 Bridges at Morton.
Bridge collapses as a result of disregarding weight and height restrictions are nothing new, for an average of 25-30 bridges worldwide have either been severely damaged or totally destroyed- a third of which come from the United States and Canada. Truckers have complained of being dependent on the GPS system and finding short cuts, yet part of the problem stems from the lack of education, in particular math and sciences, that has become important for all businesses in general. Truckers need it to understand weight and gravity, but also to calculate the difference between convenience versus safety. Other factors like working conditions with poor pay must also be taken into account. While many are annoyed that these bridges have restrictions and signs are needed to inform them, as one engineer stated in response to a collapse of another historic bridge in Iowa in 2017: Signs are there to save lives.
Tips on how to avoid areas, including bridges, that are restricted can be found in an interview done in 2015, which you can click here.
1931 Suspension Bridge over the River Tarn Collapses after Overweight Truck Crosses It. Many People Missing
TOULOUSE, FRANCE- Police investigators are looking into the causes of the collapse of a suspension bridge, which spanned the River Tarn between the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessières, located 18 miles (35 kilometers) north of Toulouse in southwestern France. The collapse happened yesterday morning at around 8:35am, sending at least two vehicles into the rushing waters of the Tarn. A 15-year old girl was killed on the wreck, her body was found downstream from the wreckage. She was the passenger of the car driven by her mother, which fell in. The mother was pulled out of the wreck by locals. Also killed was a 39-year old truck driver, who was also on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Five people were reported injured; three of which during the rescue operations. Officials still fear many more missing and search crews are scouting the scene to find potential bodies, etc. Eyewitnesses saw the bridge collapse shortly after an overweight truck had crossed the structure. The 155 meter long suspension bridge had a weight limit of 19 tons and the latest inspection reports (2017) revealed no structural defects. Charges against the driver of the truck are pending.
A video below shows the wreckage of the bridge and the rushing waters of the River Tarn. Basically, the suspender cables, which connected the main cables with the trussed roadway snapped, sending the roadway into the river.
The suspension bridge itself was built in 1931 by the engineering firm Baudin Chateauneuf, which specialized in constructing viaducts and major crossings in France. Its predecessor was an 1800s suspension bridge with arched towers. It was destroyed in a flood in 1930. Like its predecessor, the suspension bridge has wired cables and used to have suspenders that supported the roadway. The decking was supported with subdivided Warren pony trusses. It was last renovated in 2003. The bridge was a local favorite for the communities and was a key crossing, yet concerns came about regarding its stability because of increasing numbers of vehicles crossing it, some of which exceed the 19 ton weight mimit. The roadway was only 7 meters wide (20 feet).
It’s unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt. It’s currently blocked off on both sides and an inspection report will need to be carried out to determine its salvageability. More details to come in the Chronicles via its facebook and twitter pages.
1967 Cable-stayed Suspension Bridge to be replaced in response to the collapse. World-renowned architect to design new bridge.
GENOA, ITALY- Once one of the darlings of the city’s architectural landscape, Genoa is looking at seeing a new bridge being built soon. The Morandi Viaduct had spanned the valley with railways, streets and a small river going through the city, carrying the Autoroute 10 and E80 for 51 years until the tragedy of 14 August, 2018. There, one of the three towers of the concrete cable-stayed suepension bridge- which was a gap of 210 meters out of the total length of 1,180 meters- gave way during a severe storm, killing 43 people.
Two weeks after the collapse, plans are in the making to tear down the entire structure and replace it with a brand new one. According to information from multiple sources, the Five-Star Government will oversee the construction of a new bridge, to be built at the cost of the previous owner of the Morandi Bridge, the Autostrada Company, which had owned the cable-stayed suspension bridge for over a decade. The cost for rebuilding the bridge is unknown but it is estimated to be in the billions including the cost for removing the old structure. The reason for the plan is, according to transportation minister Danilo Toninelli, the company owning the bridge had neglected the structure by ignoring the problems involving the concrete stayed cables and the roadway and by financing for the new bridge it would be the best possible way to compensate for the loss of people involved.
The bridge was built by Ricardo Morandi, who was known to have built several concrete cable-stayed suspension bridges during his days as a bridge engineer. One of them, the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge in Venezuela that was built in 1964, is the longest bridge of his type in the world. The collapse of the bridge in Genoa. Like the bridge disasters in Minneapolis in 2007 and Seattle in 2015, the collapse of the Genoa Bridge is producing backlash as countries are scrutinizing his works carefully because of concerns involving the concrete cables that are supposed to hold the bridge in place, but failed in Genoa. Yet, like in the two previous disasters, despite all attempts to present the problems involving the bridge in the past decade, they were ignored until it was too late. The problems were ranged from a lack of maintenance to the lack of adaptation to the increase in the volume and weight of traffic in general. The question is whether Italy will repeat the same mistake made by the US Government in trying to condem certain bridge types but failing due to the high numbers built and rehabbed combined with costs for replacing them. This is Italy’s third bridge failure this year, regardless of bridge type, and its 11th in five years.
The engineer behind the design and construction of Genoa’s replacement is a world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. For almost 50 years, the 81-year old Italian architect, who originates from Genoa, has built several masterpieces, including the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Paul Klee Center in Berne, the Shard Tower in London and was the master planner of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. He designed two bridges- one in Chicago and another in Amasuka, Japan. The Genoa Bridge project will be his fourth for his hometown and his third official for the bridge. How he bridge wil be designed and built remains in the air has the plans have been presented by the government. The Chronicles will keep you up to date on the latest stories there.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles interviews an experienced truck driver and talks about bridges, GPS, and self-responsibility on the highway.
This article starts off with a quote by former Temple men’s basketball coach John Chaney, who lectured a rowdy crowd during a basketball game in 2005, in response to someone throwing an object onto the court, by saying these words: “Stupid is forever. You can’t change stupidity.” Yet stupidity can be changed; it depends on whether the person does it himself or if it is done for him- in almost every case, with consequences.
Truck drivers ignoring weight limits and height restrictions on bridges and underpasses have been a major problem in the past 10+ years, as incidents like the one in the video below have been in the news once every two days…..
And since the incident that involved the Gospel Street Bridge in Paoli, Indiana in December 2015, discussions as to how competent the truck driver was, let alone what the bridge’s future holds have flared up among networks of pontists, engineers, historians and even truckers alike.
But how would a driver react to the situation where, regardless of the dependency on the GPS, he/she ends up in the situation as Mary Lambright was in, when she disregarded the signs as seen by a pic below and made that fateful crossing?
In response to a question posed to one trucker, his response was simple: “If you ever get in a situation where you need to turn around and can’t, you stop, call the local police and put your emergency blinkers on, and wait for assistance to come and help you out of the situation.” In reaction to the incident, Jeremy Johnson’s diagnosis of Ms. Lambright’s will to cross the bridge was simple, “This is a classic example of lack of common sense. First her truck was way too tall to go on this bridge and second, it was far too heavy.” The bridge had a weight limit of six tons and a vertical clearance of 10 feet and six inches at the time of the incident, the former Ms. Lambright later claimed that she didn’t know what six tons meant in pounds. The latter should have served as an alarm signal when approaching the bridge, according to Johnson. “Most trucks have a height of 13’6″. It’s pretty self explanatory that when you see a sign that says 11’6 bridge ahead, you’re not going to make it.”
Jeremy Johnson has been in the trucking business for many years, having first driven for a local brewery after obtaining his CDL trucking license in 1998. After a short hiatus, he went into the trucking business full time in 2003, having worked for the farm industry, hauling livestock for 10 years, before starting his own business in his hometown of Marshall, Minnesota, three years ago. Today, he hauls dried and refrigerated goods all over the country, having seen some of the most unusual places along the way, like the largest stockyard in the country located in Oklahoma, or an underground warehouse in Missouri.
He has also seen some of the incidents on the road which makes him and other truckers both cringe and shake their heads, whether it is a trucker trying to turn around while being stuck in the mud or one cutting off a car driver on an Interstate highway. “I have seen many things in my 10 years on the road that I guess you could say I’ve been desensitized to a point,” Johnson commented in an interview with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. “I’ve seen a lot of accidents and a lot more near misses.” In terms of a good road relationship between the trucker and the car driver, Johnson adds, “People in cars do not respect the power of a semi. They will cut you off just to save a split second and risk everyone’s lives in doing so.”
The statistics involving truckers and accidents are alarming and sober. According to a 2014 report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 52,360 of the accidents on the road in the US involve trucks of all kinds; of which, 48.2% involve a truck with a semi-trailer, the kind Johnson uses for transporting goods. 3,744 of the accidents resulted in a fatality, 62.5% of which come from the rig. The causes of these accidents have been narrowed down to the top five factors, identified by another report: driver fatigue, improper maintenance of the vehicles involved, improper loading of goods, distracted driving and lastly, inexperience. While the US government is working on a plan of regulating the amount of hours of driving on the road and governing the speed limit of semi-trucks on the highway, following examples set in Europe, much of the accidents can be avoided by experience and common sense, something Johnson says is the bread and butter of truck driving: “There is no such thing as a great truck driver, but there is experience. Experience prepares you for the unexpected situations.” But experience requires a driver to be fully equipped with knowledge of your truck and having the basic necessities needed to ensure that accidents like what happened at the Paoli Bridge can be avoided.
Most semi-trucks have trailers with a height of 13.5 feet, according to Johnson. Therefore it is important to know the truck’s height and weight before departing to deliver the next goods somewhere. Even more important is to have a proper GPS device, suitable for trucks, to ensure that the truck stays on the highway. “The GPS will sometimes route you on a non-truck route if you don’t have a truck-routed GPS system,” says Johnson. And what would be the best GPS system to use while trucking on the highway?
“I personally have a Rand-McNally truck GPS which gives me truck route only maps.” But that’s not all that he uses: “I also use my i-pad with Google Maps to have a general idea where I’m going,” Johnson adds. It is unknown whether Lambright had a functioning GPS device in her possession at the time of the accident, but reports indicated that she had missed her turnoff as she was entering Paoli and continued travelling on the least travelled Gospel Street with her cousin, driving past the warning signs of the bridge and crossing the structure before it gave way.
The Gospel Bridge was located one block west of another crossing that was suitable for truck traffic, thus leading to the question of why the bridge was even open to traffic, in addition to the issues of fatigue and lack of essential equipment that Lambright might have had while travelling. Many engineers and transportation officials have tried to accomodate truckers by eliminating crossings like this, as well as the Niland Corner junction at Colo, Iowa. Yet despite the attempt to give truckers the most efficient route, such projects come at a price where places not meant for truck crossings are converted into unnecessary freeway interchanges, losing not just a piece of history but also a piece of life, if a fatal accident occurs.
Speaking from a trucker’s point of view, Johnson believes that the most travelled highways suitable for trucks should be made trucker friendly whereas less-travelled highways and bridges should be left as is. “There are bridges that were built that just weren’t made for trucks, but there are truck routes in every single city and originally they were built for trucks.” He adds, “In my opinion, if a new bridge is going up then you need to make it suitable for present and future traffic and try to think ahead, but for existing bridges not made for trucks, I think they should just leave them alone.” Looking at the Niland Corner Bridge, opposition to the proposal has gone up sporatically but for a good reason: The Jefferson Highway (US Hwy. 65) runs parallel to Interstate 35, which is 10 miles to the west!
Inspite of all the accomodation attempts, the bottom line when trucking on the highway and crossing bridges are two things: common sense and experience. The more experience on the highway, the more the person will learn. Sometimes it takes some shadow training to see if the job fits like a glove, as Johnson pointed out. “In my opinion if you want to become a truck driver, then ride along with one for a month. The only way you get better is through experience.” And in the end, if one is dedicated, experience will reap rewards as a trucker. “I learn something new out here every week. When you think you know it all its time to retire,” Johnson adds.
While Lambright lost her job, and the trucking company she worked for, based in Louisville, Kentucky, closed its doors right after the collapse of the bridge in Paoli, she still intends on returning to her career as a trucker as soon as she climbs out of her legal holes she is facing at present, which includes fines, suspension of her trucking license and possible jail time. Still, at the age of 23 years, she will need more lessons for the road, on top of what she learned from her experience at the bridge. One of the things that is important, as Johnson mentioned in the interview, is that “….people have very short memories, they forget that trucks bring them everything and I mean everything that a person uses and makes people’s lives more convenient on an everyday basis.” In other words, a trucker’s job is a privilege to be handled by those who are well-equipped with experience and common sense to deliver from point A to point B without the cost of life and property!
Thanks to Jeremy Johnson for his help in answering my questions for the article. He and I knew each other from our days at Marshall High School, playing football and basketball together before I moved to another town to finish high school. He graduated in 1996, the same year I did.
There is still no word on whether and how the Gospel Street Bridge will be rebuilt. Orange County estimates that the cost for the project will be over $1 million. The community is still set on seeing the bridge rebuilt to its original form because of its popularity in the community. More on the bridge’s future will follow.
The photos of the collapsed Gospel Street Bridge are all courtesy of Greg McDuffee, who visited the bridge recently. A big thanks to him for allowing use for this article.
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 videohere. 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?
Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and Flensburg Files now taking stories on flooding in Europe as well as bridge disasters.
Normally at this time of year, we would be seeing sunny skies with temperatures between 20 and 30° C (70- 80° F), with people grilling in the backyard, construction crews repairing roads and working on bridges, and families preparing for vacation with pupils writing their last exams before graduation from high school. This year has been anything but normal in that aspect.
In the past week, cities in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic have been fighting heavy rains, which have swollen the rivers and caused flooding in many areas. This includes the ones southern and eastern Germany, where the Rhine, Neckar, Elbe, Danube, Saale, White Elster, Mulde, and Ilm Rivers (among them) have flooded the banks and resulted in many towns and cities being evacuated. Many of the towns, like Passau, have already shattered the mark set in 2002, when flooding cut Germany into two parts thanks to the Elbe wiping out every crossing for 48 hours. Especially in Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia, people are preparing for the worst as the 200-year flood is back and records will be smashed again at the expense of their livelihoods.
With the “Jahrhundertflut” there will be many bridges affected by the floods with some of them not being able to withstand the floodwaters and buckling under the stress. In 2002 at least 20 bridges were destroyed by the floods, including a 1700s stone arch bridge in Grimma, located northwest of Dresden. Many others sustained slight to moderate damage, including the ones in Dresden, which the floodwaters of the Elbe flowed over it when 80% of the city was underwater.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is taking stories and photos of the Great Flood of 2013 and the damages done to the bridges to be posted as articles on this page, as well as the ones on its other social networks (facebook, twitter and pininterest). If you know of any bridges that were damaged or destroyed in the storm, you can either post it on the facebook page bearing its name, or send it to Jason Smith, editor and writer of the Chronicles at email@example.com, and it will be posted. The goal is to bring the bridges affected to the attention of the readers, while at the same time get you in touch with the right people with expertise in restoring and/or rebuilding bridges to reincorporate traffic and commerce in the areas affected.
In addition, the sister column The Flensburg Files is also taking on stories of the Great Flood of 2013 to be posted in its column section. If you have any, you can post it in the facebook page or send it to the editor and writer and it will be posted. A summary of the flooding with photos can be seen here. Photos are strongly encouraged for both, and the stories of the flood can be sent either in English, French or German.
We would like to send our wishes out to the people affected by the Great Flood of 2013, which will surely surpass the one in 2002. There are many people and villages cut off from the rest of the world, many livelihoods washed away, and many cities underwater. Whenever there is a chance to give these people a hand, please do so. They need our help and we all in this together until this flooding is through and the lives of those affected are back to normal.
Update on the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa, (Modern) Bridge Collapse in Missouri
In light of the Washington Bridge Collapse last Monday, one would point their fingers on bridge types as a way of pushing for them to be erased from the highway system. Yet Saturday’s collapse of another bridge in Missouri, built only 30 years ago, raises questions about how bridges are built and maintained and what changes should be made in that department. That plus an update on the upcoming Historic Bridge Weekend are found in this Newsflyer:
Railroad Overpass Collapses after Train Derailment/ Collision
Rockville, MO.Built in 1988, this combination steel and concrete girder, spanning two railroads just outside the town of Rockville (30 miles west of the Mississippi River in Scott County) and carrying Missouri Route M would not have expected a bridge disaster to happen, like it did on Saturday. The 25-year old structure, expected to last at least 50 years carrying main traffic, had its life span cut short during that afternoon, when two trains collided, causing a derailment, and resulting in the bridge being destroyed. 21 people were injured in the wreck. This disaster is one of the worst in bridge engineering, ranking it up there with the train wreck in Entschede, Germany on 3 June, 1998, destroying a railroad overpass and killing as many as 101 passengers. While the ICE Train, which was travelling at 80 mph before it derailed and folded together like an accordion, the trains at Rockville were going half the speed when the mishap happened. While investigators will be looking at the behavior of the trains before it happens, the bridge collapse will raise questions about how bridges are being built and many will find ways to build structures that are able to withstand the abuse caused by all forms of transportation, especially given the light of an earlier bridge disaster in Washington.
HB Weekend Travel Itinerary available online; Registration form available upon request.
In the past week, work has been undertaken on the travel itinerary for this year’s Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, Des Moines and Boone County. Thanks to the app, Popplet, the itinerary is now available online for you to download. Please click onto the following links, zoom in and out and scroll down to see which bridges will be targeted for photo opportunities by many people expected to attend the 4-day event. The bridgehunting event will be a smorgasbord-style event, meaning even though there will be one or two primary tours to the most important bridges, pontists and bridge enthusiasts can elect to choose the bridges they want to see, while not missing out on the meetings and dinner/entertainment that will take place during that weekend.
Please note: The itinerary does NOT include the bridges of Linn and Marion Counties, for each party responsible for organizing the guided tour will have maps available for you in person. The Linn County tour will start on 10 August at 8:30am, whereas the Marion County tour will take place 11 August at 2:30pm. More information available here.
Author’s tip: While we will start on August 9 at Old Barn Resort in Preston, MN, the bridges that are highly recommended to visit during the weekend include:
The Bridges in Winneshiek and Fayette Counties, The Bridges of Lanesboro, MN, Motor Mill Bridge in Clayton Bridge, Elkader Arch Bridge, Bergfeld Pond Bridge in Dubuque, The Bridges of Jones, Linn and Johnson Counties (including the ones at F.W. Kent Park west of Iowa City), Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Ft. Madison Swing Bridge, The Des Moines River Bridges between Keokuk and Des Moines and of course the Kate Shelley and Wagon Wheel Bridges.
ALSO: Registration forms for the dinner and entertainment portion is available directly through the author. Please inquire by e-mail at either firstname.lastname@example.org or JDSmith77@gmx.net and you will receive a form to fill out and return by no later than 15 July. This is to determine how many people are expected at the venues. Payments will be collected at the event.
Bridge memorabilia is being sought for the silent auction taking place on 11 August at Bos Landen Golf Course in Pella. If you have bridge photos and items you want to part ways with, please bring them to the event or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles.
REMINDER: Bridge information, etc. is still being sought for the Bridge Book Project, the Truss Bridges of Iowa, which the author is working on. An Information Box will be made available for you to contribute to the project. You can also talk with the author of the book at the evening events or while on the bridgehunting tour. Or just send it via e-mail, which will get there quickly and directly.
Major Truss Bridge Collapses in Washington, another Ohio River Truss Bridge Doomed, another Iowa Truss Bridge’s future in Limbo, Hope for Minnesota Bridge?
On the eve the upcoming SIA Conference in Minneapolis/ St. Paul this weekend, one would think that the tornado that wiped Moore, Oklahoma off the map (and with that, half of the Newcastle Bridge) would be the top theme to talk about, as people are cleaning up and questions remain on how to rebuild the infrastructure that is a twisted mess.
However, some other news has popped up in the past couple days have for some reason taken over the limelight, as some major historic bridges have been in the news- one of them in Washington state has rekindled the debate on the usage of truss bridges as means of crossing ravines from point A to point B. Here is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ second Newsflyer in three days’ time:
Major Interstate Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington
Located between Mt. Vernon and Burlington over the Skagit River, the 1,120 foot long bridge featured a Warren through truss (with subdivided beams) with West Virginia portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The 1955 structure was supposed to be sound, as it carried Interstate 5, a major route running along the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. However, last night at 7:15pm local time, the northernmost span of the truss bridge collapsed while commuters were making their way home from work. Numerous cars were in the water, and there is no word on the official number of casualties as of present. The collapse has taken many people including transportation officials by surprise, as the most recent National Bridge Inventory Report gave this bridge a structural rating of 57.4, which is above average. The bridge was considered structurally obsolete but not deficient, meaning it was capable of carrying massive amounts of traffic. Yet this may have to be double-checked, as officials are trying to determine the cause of this tragedy. There is speculation that an oversized truck stuck in the portal entrance of the bridge may have caused the mishap. But evidence and eyewitnesses have to be found in order to prove this claim. I-5 has been rerouted to neighboring Riverside Drive, which runs through Mt. Vernon and Burlington, respectively, and will remain that way until further notice. The collapse will also rekindle the debate among engineers and preservationist alike of whether truss bridges are the right bridge type for roadways to begin with; this after many preservation successes, combined with the construction of bridge replicas, like at Sutliff and Motor Mill Bridges in Iowa, defying the critics of this type in response to another earlier disaster in Minneapolis in 2007. The Seattle PI has pictures and information on the Skagit River Disaster, which can be seen here.
Trestle Bridge in Texas Burns and Collapses
If the term “NO WAY!” is applicable to another bridge disaster, it would be this bridge. Spanning the Colorado River a mile north of US 190 and east of San Saba in central Texas, the 1910 bridge featured a 300 foot long wooden trestle and a through truss main span. While the bridge was still in use by trains to carry agricultural goods and oil products, the railroad company owning this bridge will have to either spend money on a new bridge or find alternatives, as fire broke out on the wooden trestle spans on Monday. In a spectacular video taken by fire and transportation officials, seen here, the entire burning structure collapsed like a domino. In the video, one person reacted to the collapse in three words: “There she goes!” Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire and destruction.
Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois to be Replaced
The Cairo Bridge, spanning the Ohio River carrying US Hwys. 51 and 60 between Cairo, IL and Wickliffe, KY, is one of the most popular structures along the Ohio River and one of the best examples of bridges designed by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski and Masters (with the help of the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company). In fact, the 1938 structure opened to traffic two years before the Austrian engineer’s death in Los Angeles. It is one of the key landmarks of the city of Cairo, especially because of its four tall towers that can be seen for 20 miles. Now, the City of Cairo will have to look at a new structure that will stand in its place. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already started the Environmental Impact Survey to determine the impact on the surroundings when the cantilever truss bridge is dismantled and replaced in favor of a new modernized structure, whose bridge type to be used is left open. This will result in the Section 106 Policy to kick in, even though transportation officials have ignored the alternatives thusfar, and the recent disaster in Washington will support the KYTC’s claim that the bridge’s days over the Ohio River will soon be numbered. Photos of the bridge can be found here, as with the history of Modjeski and Masters, which includes a biography of Modjeski himself, who also built the Quebec Bridge in 1919, still the longest cantilever truss bridge in the world.
To Replace or Not to Replace: The Cascade Bridge Story
One of the hair-raising stories we will be watching this year is the fate of the 1896 Baltimore deck truss bridge, spanning Cascade Ravine at Dankward Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa. The City wants to demolish the bridge because it is a liability. Engineering surveys conducted by Shuck-Britson and Klingner and Associates recommended replacement as the most feasible alternative. Yet both surveys have been attacked because they were not sufficient. This includes the usage of photos only by Shuck-Britson instead of doing on-site research, which state and federal agencies consider not sufficient. The majority of the citizens in Burlington do not want the bridge replaced because of its historic significance combined with safety issues a new bridge would have. And now Iowa DOT is coordinating a public survey to determine who is in favor of replacing the bridge in comparison to who is on favor of remodeling the bridge for reuse. Here are the factors that are important to note:
a. The cost for total replacement ranges from $3.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson) to $6 million (according to Klingner). The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: between $2 million (according to Workin Bridges based in Grinnell) and $8.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson).
b. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the environmental and mitigation surveys need to be carried out before making a decision on the future of the bridge. In addition, it is part of the Great River Road, meaning it is one of the key tourist attractions along the Mississippi River.
c. The bridge, built by a local engineering firm based in Cedar Rapids with help of the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Company, was closed to traffic in 2008 due to structural concerns on the 464 foot long structure- namely deterioration of the concrete abutments and rust on the bridge joints.
d. Most importantly, the City Council is dependent on a referendum that would introduce a franchise fee, to help pay for the Cascade Bridge Project. Without the fee (which appears to be dead on arrival), the project would be one of the first to be on the chopping block because of lack of funding.
Nevertheless, the future of this rare structure remains in limbo and it is a matter of time before a decision will have to be made. One fact is certain, the bridge will be visited by many enthusiasts during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August. Perhaps this might bring this matter to one’s attention on a larger scale. Please see the link with a copy of the article photographed by Julie Bowers upon request to read the details.
Rehabilitate or Replace? The Cedar Avenue Bridge Story
Another piece of good news, pending on one looks at it, comes from the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, which is trying to rid itself of an important historic landmark, considered a liability in their eyes. As part of the $1.5 billion plan to expand the Mall of America, the state tax committee on Wednesday granted $259 million to be granted to the City of Bloomington, which owns the venue. $9 million will go directly to the Cedar Avenue Bridge Project. Yet the city has to approve the plan before receiving the money. While the Chronicles has an article coming on this story, a brief summary: The bridge was built in 1920 and features five spans of riveted Parker through trusses, crossing Long Meadow Lake. Together with a swing bridge over the Minnesota River, it used to carry Minnesota Hwy. 77 until an arch bridge built east of the span was built in 1978. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1996 and has been fenced off since 2002. Discussion has been brewing whether to restore the entire structure and reopen it to regular traffic, or tear it down and replace it with a new structure. As the bridge sits in the National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Regsiter of Historic Places, federal officials want the bridge restored. The majority of the City Council favor a brand new bridge. And like the Cascade Bridge, figures for replacing vs. restoring the bridge have been flying around, with no idea of which option or how the bridge will be restored. Thanks to $9 million on funding available, discussion will be intense and the Chronicles will follow the story as it unfolds. In the meantime, have a look at the photos here to determine what to do with the bridge.