OKEMOS, MICHIGAN- 2023 brings us the same scenario is in our last year- unpleasant surprises! And this is what our first Pic of the Week looks like as we pay tribute to the camelback concrete girder that used to span the Red Cedar River. This 90-foot bridge was built by the Wolverine Engineering Company in Mason, Michigan in 1924 and was located on Okemos Road. This bridge represented the classical camelback concrete girder bridge that had once populated the state but has, over time, been reduced to only a dozen . The Okemos Bridge was accompanied by a 1950s style steel beam bridge and had served northbound traffic. Sadly though, Nathn Holth (who photographed this bridge here) reported in December that this bridge is no more, as crews demolished the structure as part of a project to build a five-lane single structure. The 1950s bridge was removed last February. The new structure is expected to be open by this summer. Such a waste of achitectural work that was restored 20 years earlier and had a chance to become a monument. Now we have to pay our respects and move on to save what is left of our heritage elsewhere. Such a waste!
Once scheduled for demolition, the contract is rescinded. Now discussion about its future is back on the table.
MILLBROOK, ILLINOIS- One will see the structure upon crossing the Fox River.A three-span Pratt through truss bridge with a total length of 500 feet. The bridge is 123 years old, although the largest of the two spans was relocated at around 1910. That span has riveted connections and Howe lattice portal and strut bracings. The two smaller spans, apparently original, have Town lattice portals, V-laced strut bracings and pinned connections. The bridge and the road both were bypassed in 1984 and since then, the structure has been used as a pedestrian and bike crossing. A beautiful accessory to the nearby forest.
Still, the Kendall County Forest Preserve wants to see the bridge be removed. The reason? Failing limestone piers.
The forest preserve is cash-strapped for any funding to even fix the bridge. Even the money coughed up for removing the bridge was from scraping the bottom of the funding pot. When the contract was let to demolish the bridge in 2018, the amount was more than what was estimated- 476,000 to D-Construction instead of $200,000. The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: over one million Dollars. And this for repairing the bridge piers, the paint job and possible repairs.
Theory and practice reveal that even repairing or replacing the piers alone is approximately 50% cheaper than removing the bridge alone. With the restoration work needed for the bridge, if one chooses the right firm, such as Workin Bridges, BACH or Mead and Hunt, the cost for the above-mentioned job is 20% cheaper. Even if trusses are dismantled and stored while funding is collected for rebuilding the piers, the cost would be much cheaper. The act to remove the bridge without a slight hint of possible restoration and incorporating it into a trail, let alone the possibility of seeking resources and grants is very short-sighted and thus should be reconsidered.
Already the first attempt to form an intergovernmental partnership with the village of Millbrook failed to bear fruit. Still a larger attempt to include the county and state authorities, let alone private actors is needed to ensure any action with the bridge is carried out without emptying the pockets in the process. This also applies to removing the bridge which if done, pedestrians and cyclists would be forced to use the current crossing 100 yards away, which would increase the risk of accidents and fatalities, thus putting the liability onto the forest service and the county.
At the present time, the contract with D-Construction has been rescinded for the purpose of the state attorney needing to examine it. Yet in the news release on February 4th, the Forest Commission is planning to vote on the proposed demolition of the bridge on February 18th. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 9:00am on the second floor of the County Office Building at 111 W. Fox St. in Yorkville. Furthermore, discussions on the attempts to save the bridge will also be included. Instead of proceeding with the project of simply wiping away a bridge that is loaded with history and is one of Millbrook’s prized treasures, one should look at other alternatives, including any partnership possibilities and contacting resources who can help with restoring the bridge. Even by dismantling and storing the bridge temporarily until funding found for the trail and restoring the bridge, it would be a starting point and one that the parties involve would be willing to take as the first step. What is important is that bridge can be saved and there are ways of doing that.
It’s just a matter of taking that first step, even as the clock runs out.
There’s a facebook page that is focused on saving the Millbrook Truss Bridge which you can join and follow the developments. Click on the link below and you’ll be directed to the site.
Century-old trestle to be removed with no plans for a new structure. Abandoned since the 1980s
LEIPZIG, GERMANY- With close to 600,000 inhabitants, Leipzig is the fastest growing city in Germany, with the population expected to reach 1 million by 2030. And with the growth comes cracks in the city’s infrastructure that are an average of 50 years old and in dire need of replacement. This includes numerous bridges that are even two times older than some of Leipzig’s key federal and state highways, and they have existed since the 1980s.
With many older bridges, come some that have been abandoned for years and its decaying process has presented a hazard for pedestrians and motorists. This is where the Lunabahn Trestle comes in. This bridge is located at Auensee, in the northwestern part of Leipzig, sandwiched between the Rivers White Elster and Neue Luppe. The trestle is made of concrete and has 17 spans in total. The piers are arched and have a semi, A-shaped design. Built in 1914, the trestle was originally used for the 6-gauge rail line known as the Lunabahn, which connected the main restaurant with the main entrance to the Park Am Auensee (at present-day Gustav-Esche-Strasse) and ending at the beach (near present-day Elsteraue). The trestle basically dissected the northwestern part of the lake. The line continued until the mid-1930s, when the bridge was converted to pedestrian and car use. The line would later be revitalized in 1951 and to this day, it encircles the entire lake. The trestle lost its functionality by the 1980s and was subsequentially closed to all traffic before the Fall of the Wall in 1989.
After being abandoned for almost four decades and having lost its functionality, the City of Leipzig voted to tear down the structure, which began on January 6th. Crews will remove the ca. 160-meter long bridge at a cost of 150,000 Euros. The project is expected to be completed by February 14th. The bridge’s deteriorating condition made it impossible to consider the option of restoring the structure for pedestrian use. There are no plans for a new bridge at this current site. For photographers and bridge enthusiasts, Leipzig will lose a unique structure, whose fitting background with the natural surroundings of Auensee will be missed and whose historic association with the Lunabahn will be gone forever. One of the close-ups of the photo can be seen via link here.
Links to the bridge, the lake and the historic railroad can be found below:
CLARENDON, ARKANSAS- After seven years of legal battle, the war officially came to an end yesterday. And victors on the side of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the US Fish and Wildlife and the Supreme Court celebrated with a bang!
The Clarendon Cantilever Truss Bridge was imploded yesterday morning, bringing not only the end of the bridge’s life but years of legal battles and campaigns to save it. The bridge was built in 1931 by four different bridge building firms and was considered the last of the Sister Bridges along the White River. A biography of the bridge’s life can be found here.
The bridge was replaced in 2014 but efforts were undertaken to save the structure and reuse it as a bike trail crossing, implanting it into the proposed national bike trail. This was in connection with the proposed agreement to tear the bridge down once its replacement opened to traffic. The battle crystalized onto the legal scene in 2018, where the matter was taken through the courts. The Arkansas State Supreme Court in July of this year ruled in favor of the US Fish and Wildlife and Arkansas DOT, thus putting the last nails into the coffin of the historic bridge.
Hundreds of locals and news crews were on hand to say adieu to the last of the sisters, as crews brought it down into the river, and with that, all the efforts to reuse a bridge to benefit others. This demolition also sets a signal out to the historic bridge community that no bridge is safe unless you know the likes of Charlie Wilson in Washington, who are nowhere near in relation to our current White House administration or their affiliates.
TOURNAIS, BELGIUM- This article pays a tribute to the Pont de Trous, a bridge spanning the River Scheldt in the City of Tournai in Belgium. At the time of this posting, this bridge is all but a memory as it was pushed aside in the name of progress. The project to demolish the bridge started on August 9th as part of the project to deepen and widen the River Scheldt to allow ships to sail through France to join the Seine, which flows into the Atlantic. The bridge was built in 1290 to replace a wooden crossing and was the last of the military crossings of its kind in the world. However, as the city claimed the bridge is being rebuilt with the stones being saved for reuse, this was the scene of this “reconstruction project:”
A news report shows the details of this senseless destruction:
A new bridge mimicking the original historic character of the crossing is expected to be in place by the end of 2020. However, despite its McDonald’s arches that are being proposed, one has to ask if this was really necessary, given the fact that the bridge was part of Tournai’s old town. Featuring historic buildings, inside the fort and a cathedral, all from the same era as the bridge, the old town of Tournai has been a UNSESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. With the proposed rebuilding of the bridge, one has to ask himself if this was really a necessity. Do we need larger ships to pass through or if it makes sense to transport by land, which has enough highways and railways taking goods and persons to ports in the areas mentioned? Is it really necessary to have the bigger is better mentality or is less really more? And lastly, how much do we care about history in general?
With this demolition of one of the most historic bridges in the world, I’m reminded of a comment one of my students mentioned about history in class: “History is history. We need to worry about the future.” Yet history is important to understand the present and change it for our future and that of the next generation. Without history we will never know how we got to where we are now and what is expected to come. We will never know how we progressed with our infrastructure and how it contributed to forming a nation, partnerships with other nations and society that we have today. It’s like the environment we fighting to save: We’ll never know until there’s nothing left…….
……but a memory. If we even remember this bridge a generation later, or if all that is left in memory are Ronald’s Golden Arches…….
This entry starts with a little bit of irony. The bridge was supposed to be torn down beginning the 14th after the organization Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge was unable to purchase the historic stone arch bridge for 1.7 million Euros- a price that was considered too high and the figure to fictitious to anyone’s liking. Because of a massive snowstorm that brought life in Saxony and parts of Germany to a complete standstill, it was pushed back to the 21st. As of this entry and visit to the bridge on the 23rd, the old stone lady is still standing, with no digger, no crane, no driller, no construction worker. At temperatures well below zero Celsius, it makes the planned demolition impossible. And with more snow and cold in the forecast, chances are very likely that the planned work may not even commence until sometime before Easter.
And that is a long ways away. However, this may be that window of opportunity that we need to turn it around and pull off an upset- a hat trick that is even bigger than the bunny the Ministry of Finance and Transport pulled. Already suggestions from nearby communities in Saxony indicate that people don’t want to part ways from this historic bridge just yet. In the newly consolidated Aue-Bad Schlema for example, there was a proposal to divert funding for renovating a club to go to purchasing and renovating the bridge. In Beiersfeld near Schwarzenberg, one official suggested at least leaving the bridge piers so that a wooden bridge is put in its place. If covered, it would be a first in over 150 years. And even in Berlin, the petition to save the bridge is being examined as the federal government still owns the bridge and the highway that crosses it, although it’s crossing a new bridge on a new alignment. So in other words, while the state is dead set on removing the structure, attempts to pull an upset is in the works. And as long as Old Man Winter hovers over the Ore Mountain region, there is still some hope to pull this off.
But how to do it?
We’re looking for any ideas to halt the demolition process. Rallies are possible, for we’ve seen this at many historic bridges in the US and Canada. Concerts as well. There is a possibility to donate to the group Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge. But more importantly, we need some sources and people willing to step in and save a piece of history, one that can be used as a crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, fishermen and photographers, anybody who would rather see a piece of history in tact as is, and not in rubble. The old bridge has potential, and is stable enough for use. We need some ideas and your help…..
….as long as the snow is there and no green.
You can send your suggestions here, but you can also contact the following representatives of the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Freunde der Rechenhausbrücke) using the e-mails below:
Ulrike Kahl <email@example.com>, Hermann Meier<firstname.lastname@example.org>, Günther Eckhardt <email@example.com>
Please note that you should have your German language ready for use!
To close this, I would like to use a Cree Indian quote but adapted in this context, which goes like this:
Not until the the decking has been taken out
Not until the arches have been removed
Not until the piers are imploded
Not until the materials are hauled away
Not until we realize what we’ve done to our local history
That it cannot be replaced with memories.
We will fight until the last brick leaves Rechenhaus.
For those who joined the Chronicles via Skrive, you can collect the information on the bridge by clicking here, and then following the updates so that you get a bigger picture and perhaps help.
Check out our facebook page here for photos and other information. You are free to follow and join in the conversation, regardless of language.
Cantilever K-Truss Bridge Imploded on 9 March; Running Slough Bridge also to Disappear.
SAVANNA, IL/ SABULA, IA- The end of an era has come for residents of the towns of Savanna and Sabula. One month after the replacement span- a tied-through arch bridge spanning the Mississippi River opened to through traffic, construction crews brought down the Savanna-Sabula Cantilever Truss Bridge on 9 March. Over 300 charges in 21 different places were used to bring down the main span. The Savanna-Sabula Bridge was built in 1932 by the Minneapolis Bridge Company, one of the major bridge companies that belonged to the Minneapolis School of Bridge Building, which featured the likes of Commodore P. Jones, the Hewett Family (Seth, William and Arthur) and Alexander Bayne, to name a few. Jones founded the company in 1887 and at the time of the construction of this bridge, Bayne was president of the company. The bridge had a span of 2481 feet, its main span was 520 feet. The blue-colored cantilever span featured a K-truss through truss span, one of the rarest of its kind in the country. The portal bracings were X-framed but a plaque was located on the Illinois end of the span. A video of the drive across the bridge can be seen below:
Because of its narrowness, combined with the roadway being in a flood plain and problems with river navigation, officials from Iowa and Illinois agreed to build a new span in 2013 while trying to give away the bridge to a party wishing to relocate it (see article here) Unfortunately there were no takers and therefore, the bridge was condemned, however some pieces will be reused for an exhibit in both ends, serving as a reminder of the bridge’s time as a toll bridge, serving the Short Route, connecting Cedar Rapids with Chicago.
Several videos of the bridge’s demolitions were taken, as it became a pile of scrap metal as of 10:35am on Friday the 9th of March, 2018. Some examples are shown below:
The Pratt through truss approach spans to the main span will be dismantled and the demolition of the bridge will be completed by May. At the same time, another accessory connecting Savanna and Sabula, the Running Slough Bridge (as pictured below) is being removed even as this article is released. The Pratt through truss span with West Virginia portals was built at the same as the Savanna-Sabula span and was the entry point to Sabula. The bridge was originally scheduled to be replaced this summer. However the partial collapse of one of the approach spans has prompted Iowa DOT to move the timeline forward and remove the bridge right away. At present, the new span is to be built and opened by the end of May. Whether this date is realistic depends on the weather conditions, especially because of the harsh winter the region has had, combined with possible flooding caused by the spring thaw.
CHARLESTOWN, INDIANA/ LOUISVILLE, KY- There is one variant that makes a person go nuts when it comes to the future of a historic bridge, and that is the use of modal verbs. Modal verbs are used to support the verb in a sentence. No matter which language you are learning, each modal verb has a set of at least five words, each of which has at least three different functions.
In English we have ten different modal verbs, yet four of them we will focus on are may, might, can and could, as they are all interconnected in a sense of meaning and use but how to incorporate them into the context is exceptionally difficult for they may or may not fit pending on the situation. That means may, might, and can have the meaning of a possibility but how it fits is tricky because the road can be closed if the weather is bad, the road might be closed because of the weather (meaning watch for the weather report and road signs), the road may be closed but based on permission by the authorities to close it, the road could be closed as a possibility if and only if there is an alternative, and the road can be closed because of the permission to close it, period.
Do you see what I’m saying here? If not, then you are not alone, and with this bridge that we’re talking about, it is even more confusing.
The bridge had been in the market by the Indiana DOT and the State Historical Preservation Office because of its potential to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Yet the way it was marketed was rather confusing at best. This was in part because of this sign…..
This is where the use of the modal verb “may” caused confusion for it could have meant one of the following if deciphered carefully:
This historic bridge will be replaced.
This historic bridge is allowed to be replaced but because of permission by INDOT
This historic bridge has a chance to be replaced unless something is done to stop it
There is a possibility that the bridge will be replaced.
Even though the agency had a telephone number to contact to inquire more about this bridge, chances are that there may have been more people on the other line who would have had different answers to the question of:
Will this bridge be replaced and
Can I buy the bridge?
If Indiana had been serious about this bridge, it would have had better signage that indicated that the bridge was for sale using specific language- a sign that would have looked like this:
Historic Bridge For Sale. Any Takers? Call 555-324-1212. Sale ends 31 December 2018.
Plus a little bit of information.
Simplicity is key but in a way that everyone understands. Sadly, the use of modal verbs resulted in this bridge’s downfall. But a lesson that should be learned from this is this:
You must be specific!
To better understand the use of modal verbs, check out the modal verbs presented in the sister column The Flensburg Files, especially with the story of I Wish, where you can make use of the story AND the modal verb exercise. 🙂
Bridge built in the 1600s to be replaced on a new alignment. Petition to reuse the bridge for pedestrian use still in the running.
AUE (SAXONY)/ DRESDEN/ BERLIN- While we read about historic bridges being demolished we mostly find metal truss bridges, between the ages of 70 and 130 years, that are coming down, despite having potential of being reused. We almost never see a stone arch bridge that meets the wrecking ball, regardless of age.
That is unless you look at and read about this bridge, the Bockau Arch Bridge, spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River at the village of Bockau, six kilometers southwest of Aue and exactly the same south of Schneeberg in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). Built in the 1600s, the bridge is located near the historic Rechenhaus (Headworks House), dam and waterway, which had been built between 1556 and 1559, providing drinking water to the villages along the river. The crossing was essential for miners needing to use the bridge as they cross between Zschorlau and Schneeberg on the northern side and Bockau on the opposite side of the river. The five-span stone arch bridge, made using sandstone, was rehabilitated in the 19th century and survived a scare in April 1945, when Nazis tried to implode the structure in a failed attempt to stop the advancement of Russian troops from the east and Americans from the south and east. American troops from the 11th tank division occupied the bridge before the Nazis could demolish the structure. Despite this, plus two major floods that caused damage to the structure (the last resulted in adding steel bracings to the arches), the bridge remains in decent shape- at least from my observations- although potential rehabilitation is needed to prolong its life much longer.
Despite its historic status, the 400+ year old structure is coming down. Crews are cutting down trees in a plan to build a new structure to better accomodate traffic from Schneeberg and Zschorlau while at the same time, realign German highway 283 to eliminate the sharp curves the historic bridge presents to the highway. According to the Saxony Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the bridge will be a straight crossing, having a modern style with skewed approaches. The highway will be expanded into an expressway, merging traffic with that from Bockau. This includes bike and pedestrian paths. In addition, new retaining walls at the new bridge will be needed and the rock escarpment that flows down through Bockau into the Mulde will be redone. In the last phase of the project, which will be completed by November 2019, the historic bridge will be removed. This will happen towards the end of next year, unless waves are made by locals and politicians to keep the bridge in tact to be reused for pedestrian purposes.
A petition was created in April of this year, calling for the bridge to be left as is, even after the new bridge is built because it retains its historic character and is protected by the German Preservation Laws (Denkmalschutz Gesetz). In addition, three rare species reside at and near the bridge, including the fire salamander, different species of bats and the water ouzer (dipper). Calls for saving the historic bridge is gaining momentum, as even members of the German Green Party are calling for the bridge to be saved for the aforementioned reasons. Still, resisitance has been ignored for the State of Saxony has rejected plans for a two-bridge solution, and the Federal Government, which is footing the 6.4 million Euro project, expects the historic bridge to be demolished by November 2018. The fight is still on but time and resources are running out, especially with every tree that is being cut down for the project, as the author observed during his visit on the 28th of August.
Already the bridge is closed to traffic as of the 28th of August, as seen from my visit. The Zwickauer Mulde Bike Trail (which runs under the historic bridge) is also fenced off, with a detour following the current highway and street going to Schindlerswerk on the southern side of the river. The 1.5 kilometer detour is expected to remain in place until November 2018, when the bridge is removed. Highway 283 will be detoured from Aue through Zschorlau and Albernau beginning in September and lasting until the completion of the project in November 2019. Local traffic between Bockau and Aue will remain open with some restrictions. Whether this plan will still take hold, depends on the progress of the petition for the preservation of the old bridge and whether authorities in Dresden and Berlin will concede and allow the locals to keep their bridge. Should that not be the case, this project may have some repurcussions with other projects in the pipeline, including the plan to replace the Chemnitz Viaduct to better accomodate the German Railways’ (the Bahn) InterCity trains. That project, which has been stalled due to stark opposition from locals, the state historic preservation office and other experts in bridge preservation, is also being backed by Berlin as the Bahn is partially owned by the government.
If you want to sign the petition to save the bridge, click onto the link and include your name, address and reasons for saving it. Never say never if you want your historic bridge kept in place once the project is finished. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest.
1910 Des Moines River crossing coming down after years of neglect, vandalism and natural disasters
BOONE, IOWA- Three years ago, the Wagon Wheel Bridge was one of the main attractions of the Historic Bridge Convention, which was attended by over 25 pontists from five states and two countries. It was originally part of the Kate Shelley Tour conducted by the Boone County Historical Society. It was one of the longest multi-span truss bridges ever built by the Iowa Bridge Company, one of many in-state companies that had dominated the scene since the consolidation of 29 bridge companies into the American Bridge Company consortium in 1901. The 1910 bridge had a total length of over 700 feet.
Now the steel span is coming down for good- in sections. Workers from the Hulcher Services began pulling down the western half of the bridge yesterday, which included two Pratt through trusses, one of which sustained damaged in an ice jam in February and subsequentially fell into the river in March. According to the Boone County engineer Scott Kruse, as soon as the water levels of the Des Moines River recede , the eastern half, featuring the Pennsylvania through truss and another Pratt through truss will be removed. The cost for the bridge removal will be $150,000, some of which will be deducted from the county highway fund, while the taxpayers will contribute to the rest of the expenses.
For many who know this bridge, it brings to an end a bridge that had historic character but was highly ignored and neglected. Closed since 2007, the bridge sustained damage to the eastern approach trestle spans in 2008 during the Great Flood. It took four years until new wooden decking was built on the span, but not before residents having voted against the referendum calling for the replacement of the bridge in 2010. Debates on the future of the bridge came to a head, as talks of converting the bridge to a memorial honoring Kathlyn Shepard came about in 2013. Reports of the leaning pier between the collapsed Pratt through truss and the one closest to the Pennsylvania truss span raised concerns that the structure would collapse, creating warnings even from local officials that one should not cross the bridge. But the last ten months brought the bridge to its untimely end, as vandals set fire to the eastern trestle spans last August, prompting the county to removed them completely. The arsonists have yet to be found and apprehended. The ice jams and the subsequent collapse of one of the spans, prompting the county engineer to put the bridge out of its misery for good.
The removal of the Wagon Wheel Bridge brings closure and relief to the city of Boone and the county, for despite pleas by preservationists to save at least part of the bridge, the county is doing its best to eliminate a liability problem that has been on the minds of many residents for nine years. The county engineer declared that they do not want any more problems with the bridge and therefore entertains no plans for keeping what is left of history. The mentality of “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” is floating around in the community, yet the city and the county will lose a key piece of history that was part of Kate Shelley’s childhood past as well as the history of Iowa’s transportation heritage. A piece of history which, if thinking dollars and sense, could have been saved years earlier, had everyone read their history books in school, and come together to contribute for the cause, that is. One wonders what Kate Shelley would think of this.
Facts about the bridge, based on the author’s visit in 2010 can be found here.
If you wish to know more about Kate Shelley, a link to her life and how she became famous can be found here.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has changed its cover pages on its facebook and twitter sites to honor the bridge and its heritage. If one is interested in relocating the Pennsylvania span, please contact the engineer using the information here. Hurry while the water levels are still high!
It is unknown if even a marker at the site of the bridge will be erected once the bridge is gone. Given the sentiment towards seeing the girl leave, chances of happening is highly unlikely unless a book is written about the county’s bridges or the bridges along the Des Moines River and the bridge is mentioned there….