Wartime Bridge: The Legacy of the Bailey Truss

Photo taken by Kevin Skow.

One will find this one anywhere. Even on the backroads like this one: a single span truss span spanning Soldier River just south of Iowa Hwy. 141 in Crawford County. The bridge was erected here in 1957 to replace a span destroyed during the great flood of 1945. At 90 feet, one would think a through truss span could have fit here. Yet the span is a pony truss and it was put together in layers and put together with bolts. A set of Tinker Toys that was put together easily with the purpose of ensuring even the heaviest vehicles- in this case, farm equipment like tractors- would be allowed to cross it. One has to assume that it was imported somewhere where it had a purpose.

And it was. This span is an example of a Bailey Truss bridge. And even though one can find them here and there, in the farmlands of Iowa to the steep hills of central Saxony, even to the far east, such as India, Australia and New Zealand.  Bailey Trusses were unique because all they require is a few metal beams and bolts, combined with manpower, and the bridge is put together in an instant.  Bailey Trusses were the works of a brillant engineer and and without his expertise, it would not have won World War II. As Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, the British commander, once said. ”It was the best thing in that line we ever had; without the Bailey Bridge we should not have won the war.”

.

Who was that brillant engineer?  Sir Donald Coleman Bailey.

.

Source: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Public domain

.

Bailey was born on 15 September, 1901 in Rotherham in Yorkshire. He obtained a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 1923 and was a civil servant in the War Department when the war broke out in 1939.  The concept of the Bailey Truss was developed in 1936, when Bailey scribbled the design on the back of an envelope. His idea was that prefabricated sections that were interchangable could be deployed to the war front and, with steel pins, soldiers could construct the span, which would be anchored on one side and connected on the other side by the use of force. No heavy equipment would be needed to construct a temporary span, and the parts could be transported with the basic equipment or with man power from one place to another because of their lightweight. Constructing them would be easy for it could be achieved within hours, instead of months. For the war effort, the concept of makeshift bridge construction in the shortest time span possible was of utmost importance in order to win the war.

Firstly ignored, Bailey’s truss design was accepted in 1941 when the Ministry of Supply requested that Bailey construct a full scale span completed by May 1st.  The design was successfully tested at the Experimental Bridging Establishment (EBE), in Christchurch, Hampshire, with several parts being provided by Braithwaite & Co. The first prototype was tested in 1941. For early tests, the bridge was laid across a field, about 2 feet (0.61 m) above the ground, and several Mark V tanks were filled with pig iron and stacked upon each other. Another prototype was constructed in 1943 at Stanpit Marsh also in Dorset and was proven successful. That span still exists to this day. After a series of successful trials, the Corps of Royal Engineers introduced the Bailey Truss as a means of construction in 1942 and companies began constructing parts for the Bailey Truss to be transported to the war front.

.

Use in World War II:

The first Bailey Truss was constructed over Medjerda River near Medjez el Bab in Tunisia on the night of 26 November 1942 by the by 237 Field Company R.E. After learning about the bridge‘s success, both the Canadians and Americans embraced the truss and started their own production to complement that of  Britain. Detroit Steel Products Company, the American Elevator Company and the Commercial Shearing and Stamping Company were three of dozens of companies that constructed the Bailey Trusses in the US, which was known as the Portable Panel Bridge. In total, over 600 firms were involved in the making of over 200 miles of bridges using the Bailey design,  composing of 500,000 tons, or 700,000 panels of bridging during the war- at the height of the war, the number was at 20,000 panels that were produced and transported. Bailey Trusses were used successfully for transporting military equipment and supplies during the war, including the Normandy and Italy. American troops built over 3200 Bailey Trusses in Italy as they advanced through the Alps into Germany from the south.  The longest bridge there was located over the Sangro and had a span of 1200 feet.

Bailey Trusses were also implemented in Germany, when hundreds of key structures were imploded by the Nazis as a way to slowing or stopping the advancement of Allied Troops. This included the bridges along the Rivers Rhine and Main. Canadians were credited for building the longest Bailey Bridge during the war. The Blackfriars Bridge, a 1814 foot long (558 meters) over the River Rhine at Rees, in North Rhine-Westphalia, was the longest span in the world when it opened to traffic on 28 March, 1945.

US Army soldiers working together to put a Bailey Truss span in place at the site of the crossing at Wesel (NRW). Source: Beck, Alfred M., et al, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

.

Even when the war ended on May 7th, 1945, Bailey trusses were in use as temporary crossings while the bridges were either repaired or rebuilt throughout Germany. It had a dual purpose: To help displaced residence get around and to allow for the transportation of necessary goods needed while the country was being rebuilt. Some of them were made permanent, while others, including the major crossings along the Rhine, Main and Elbe were temporary, allowing time for the original structures to be either repaired or rebuilt fully.

Bailey Truss span erected over damaged arch bridge in Italy in 1944. Source: War Office official photographer / Public domain

.

After World War II:

When the war was over, there was a surplus of Bailey spans that were available for reuse. This allowed for Americans, British and Canadians alike to reuse them for various projects. Many of them made their way to Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, where counties in the western half of the state needed at least temporary crossings to replace the spans that were destroyed during the floods of 1945 and again in 1952. Some examples still remain in use today. Bailey trusses were used as temporary crossings as bridges were being replaced. In the case of a viaduct in Maryland, the Bailey spans were built prior to the original trestle being replaced with steel trestles.

Large numbers of Bailey truss spans were built in mountainous areas in California where constructing bridges to accomodate travelers was difficult because of the steep, rocky terrain. Some of the spans were part of the ACROW bridge- temporarily built as moveable bridges. The Fore River Bridge and the Lynn Baschule Bridge both in Massachusetts are classic examples of such Bailey Trusses used. Bailey trusses were also used as extra support for the truss bridge, as is the case with the Haiti Island Bridge in New York, which happened in 2007. The span and the truss bridge itself were replaced three years later.

Ontario had the largest number of Bailey truss spans for the years after the war, with the spans being built in and around Toronto in response to damages caused by Hurricane Hazel. The Finch Avenue Bridge is the last of its kind and is now a historic landmark. The Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission used some for their office and as walkways. And lastly, Australia built several Bailey bridges, including the world record holder, a 2585-foot (788 meter), two-lane structure over the Derwent River at Hobart, which was constructed in 1975. It served as a temporary structure before the Tasman Bridge was opened to traffic on October 8, 1977. Later, Bailey Truss Bridges were constructed in the far east, including northern Africa, Suriname, and India. Many of them, like the trestle at Wadi el Kuf in Lybia were built by the British during the time of its Empire.

Bailey bridge, Wadi el Kuf, Libya. Constructed by the British Army, shortly after World War II. Source: Jollyswagman on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

.

The Legacy of Bailey:

Many scholars and even those who served in the military during WWII believed that the Bailey Truss was the key to mobilizing Allied Troops and securing a victory over Germany and Italy in World War II. As a result, Mr. Bailey received several international accolades for his work. In Britain alone, he was given the Knighthood on 1 January, 1946 and the Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau exactly two years later. By that time, Bailey was living in Southbourne in Bournemouth and was unaware that he had been knighted until one of the girls at the bank had informed him about it. Bailey would live out his days in Bournemouth, where he died in 1985.

He was considered a quiet man but one where he left a footprint with his truss bridge design, which is still widely used in bridge construction, big and small. And while the successes of World War II fell to the common person who fought for freedom and democracy, Bailey was considered one that played a key role, not only in helping bring an end to the war, but to help rebuild the areas ravaged by war with the Bailey Truss. And when you see a bridge like this one below, one will see how the use of simple parts and tools, combined with the use of manpower could make a work of simple art, something we still see today on our roads.

The Prototype Bailey Bridge at Stanpit Marsh. Photo by Eugene Birchall for wiki

.

Memorials:

There are not many memorials dedicated to Bailey, even in Britain, for most of the places where he lived have been razed and replaced with newer housing. Yet the prototype Bailey span at Stanpit Marsh still exists today and his birthplace at 24 Albany Street in Rotherham still stands albeit privately owned. Yet there are some companies that specialize in Bailey trusses, including one in Alabama that bears its name. Bailey trusses were rarely used in films, except one based on the battle of Arnhem, A Bridge Too Far, released in 1977. There, the Bailey Truss Bridge was used in the film.

It is really hoped that a statue and/or additional honors, even a museum would be created honoring Bailey for his life and works. 75 years after the end of the great war, nothing of that sort has been considered. This should be considered, especially as talk of the significance of World War II is disappearing together with the War Generation and the children of the Baby Boom that followed. For historians, bridge enthusiasts, teachers and the public in general, it would produce some great talks about the common man who did great things and became Sir Donald Bailey in the end.

.

BHC Newsflyer: 1 May 2020- May Day

brown bridge over water
Photo by Mike Sinko on Pexels.com

bhc newsflyer new

To listen to the podcast, click here: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-May-1–2020-edfq6l

 

Top News Stories:

Phantom Bridge Stories: In connection with the BHC’s 10th anniversary special, stories and photos are being taken for the next theme in the bridgehunter series. This one has to do with Phantom Bridges. These are historic bridges that used to carry a major road but have been closed down for many years. These are abandoned structures that can be found in wooden settings and present a haunting feeling when visiting it. The question I have is what is your phantom bridge or your favorite story involving visiting a phantom bridge? A couple examples are presented in the article, including a film by Satolli Glassmeyer from History in Your Backyard. Please send your stories and photo to Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact info you can find here.

Examples of Phantom Bridges:

Above film: Phantom Bridge in Indiana (HYB)

Mystery Bridge in Georgia- click here

The Bridges of Harvey/Tracy (Iowa)- click here

 

 

Lyme-East Thetford Bridge Listed on the National Register

Article: https://www.vnews.com/Lyme-East-Thetford-bridge-added-to-National-Register-of-Historic-Places-34053051

Bridge Info:  http://bridgehunter.com/nh/grafton/15700530011200/

 

New Squbb Zig Zag Bridge in Brooklyn: https://ny.curbed.com/2020/4/28/21240112/brooklyn-bridge-park-squibb-bridge-reopen

 

9th Street Bridge in Boise to Receive New Decking

Article: https://boisedev.com/news/2020/04/27/ninth-street-bridge/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/id/ada/old-ninth-street/

 

Rezner Bowstring Arch Bridge to get a make-over

Article: https://www.vindy.com/news/local-news/2020/04/historic-poland-bridge-to-get-200000-facelift-this-autumn/

Bridge info (including biography on William Rezner):  https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=ohio/poland/

 

Historic Prestolee Bridge Restored and Reopened

Article: https://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/18390668.packhorse-bridge-prestolee-restored-former-glory/

Info on Packhorse Bridge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packhorse_bridge

Info on Prestolee Bridge:  https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1162287

 

Historic Iron Bridge in the Bavarian Alps to be Replaced using Climbers and Rope

Article: https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/neue-bruecke-in-der-hoellentalklamm-auf-dem-weg-zur-zugspitze,Rwh0o1A

 

New Bridge Builder Sought for Leverkusen Bridge after Defective Bridge Parts Imported from China

Article: https://www.ksta.de/region/leverkusen/stadt-leverkusen/leverkusener-bruecke-minderwertiger-stahl-aus-china-beschaeftigt-landtag-36623982

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinbr%C3%BCcke_Leverkusen

 

Note: This does not include the short headlines you will listen to in the podcast.

bhc logo newest form

BHC Newsflyer: April 10, 2020

IMG_20180919_194642896
Heiligborn Viaduct in Waldheim (Saxony), Germany. Photo taken in 2018

bhc newsflyer new

To listen to the podcast, click onto the link: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-10-April-2020-eclf2j

 

Headlines:

Railroad Bridge north of Basel (Switzerland) Collapses- One Dead

Information on the incident: https://www.brueckenweb.de/2content/datenbank/bruecken/3brueckenblatt.php?bas=97327

 

A10 Bridge in Tuscany Region. Photo by Frank Selke

Century Old Bridge in Italy Collapses- Minor Casualties

Article:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52213898

Bridge info:  https://www.brueckenweb.de/2content/datenbank/bruecken/3brueckenblatt.php?bas=86926

 

 

Spencerville Covered Bridge Recognized as State’s Favorite

Article:  https://www.kpcnews.com/thestar/article_90e3aec5-2039-51c9-8f97-6ff9ebf11b70.html

Bridge Information: https://bridgehunter.com/in/de-kalb/spencerville/

 

Bridge Street Bridge in Gardiner. Photo taken by Brian Bartlett

Gardiner Bridge Project Delayed Due to Corona Virus

Article: https://www.centralmaine.com/2020/04/07/gardiner-bridge-replacement-project-delayed/#

Info on the Project: https://reed-reed.com/gardiner-maine-bridges/

Bridge Info: https://bridgehunter.com/me/kennebec/bh59101/

 

Finlay Bridge in Medicine Hat (Alberta), Canada. Photo by Bryan Leitch / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Finlay Bridge in Medicine Hat (Alberta), Canada to be Rehabilitated

Article: https://chatnewstoday.ca/2020/04/06/city-planning-rehabilitation-of-finlay-bridge/

Bridge Info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finlay_Bridge

 

92226069_2627608917558415_853876744401190912_o
Bothell Bridge. Photo taken by John Gateley

Bothell Wooden Truss Bridge to be Replaced

Info on Bridge Project: http://www.ci.bothell.wa.us/487/Park-at-Bothell-Landing-Pedestrian-Bridg?fbclid=IwAR1udFEhVnOu6xcG1RsNJNY_MY39J5H3TvrxCwgwSIHX6wk_QjncTI2A8lg

 

Tour Guide on the Bridges of Waldheim (Saxony), Germany

Tour Guide: The Bridges of Waldheim (Saxony), Germany

BHC Newsflyer 1 July, 2019

64378224_2494077090622925_756408375788437504_o

bhc newsflyer new

Podcast can be accessed via link: https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/e4ghc4

 

Links to the headlines:

 

Morandi Bridge Demolished:

Headlines

New Replacement span

Videos of the Bridge collapse and demolition:

 

Aetnaville Truss Bridge in Wheeling Faces Demolition

Sydney historic Bridge faces uncertain future after years of neglect

Historic Mangaweka Bridge may live on

 

Bridge Towers of the Remagen Bridge in Germany Needs a new owner:

Facts and history of the Bridge

Information on the Remagen Museum

News Story (in German)

 

Historic Bridge in Winona Reopens after a Three-year Renovation Project:

Facts and Photos of the Bridge

Information on its reopening

Video on the Bridge Project:

 

Historic Bridge Plaque in Napa Restored

Canton Railroad Bridge being Replaced

Help needed in solving mystery of railroad Bridge in Olbernhau (Mystery Bridge 116)

 

bhc-logo-newest1

 

2018 Author’s Choice Awards: Mr. Smith makes his picks

Lowe Bridge in White County, Illinois. Photo taken by Melissa Brand-Welch

Before announcing the official winners of the 2018 Ammann Awards, it’s time to take a look at the winners of the Author’s Choice Awards. Here, the author of the Chronicles (yours truly) picks out the best and worst in terms of bridges. And for this year, there is plenty of fame to go around. So without further ado, let’s take a look at my picks to close off a busy year.

 

Spectacular Bridge collapse

USA:

Florida International (niversity Bridge in Miami- There are accidents with fatalities that are caused by natural disasters, then we have some caused by human error. The Florida International University Bridge in Miami, which had been built by FIGG Bridge Engineering was one that collapsed on March 15th, killing six people was one that was caused by human error. Faulty design combined with a lack of thorough inspection caused the double decker bridge to collapse in broad daylight, turning a dozen cars passing underneath into steel pancakes. Most of the fatalities were from people who were squished underneath. It was later revealed the FIGG and four other companies had violated seven regulations resulting in fines totalling $89,000. Yet they are not out of the woods just yet, due to lawsuits pending against them.  It is unknown whether a new pedestrian bridge will be built.

Honorably mentioned:

Kingsland Bridge in Texas- We have accidents caused by mother nature that produced no fatalities and not even the most modern of bridges can withstand. A pair of runner-ups come to mind on the American side: The bridges that were lost in the worst forest fire in California history, and this one, the Kingsland Viaduct, a 50-year old bridge spanning Lake Llano that was washed away by floodwaters on October 6th. Fortunately here, no casualties were reported. A new bridge is being built.

 

International:

Morandi Viaduct in Genoa, Italy- It was the collapse of the year. The Morandi Viaduct in Genoa in Italy collapsed on 14 August during a severe storm. 22 people were killed, many of them had been crossing the concrete cable-stayed suspension bridge at the time of the collapse. The work of bridge engineer Ricardo Morandi had been under scrutiny due to defects in the decking and concrete cables and it was a matter of a simple storm to bring part of the bridge down. It served as a wake-up call for the Italian Government as it introduced strict standards for bridges afterwards, also in Europe. Other Morandi bridges are being examined with replacement plans being put together. As for this bridge, the 54-year old structure is currently being replaced with a steel/concrete beam viaduct, which is expected to be finished by 2020.

Chiajara Viaduct in Colombia- Runner-up here is another cable-stayed bridge, but located in the forest near Bogota. Here one didn’t need a storm to bring down the partially-built bottle-shaped cable-stayed suspension bridge, which happened on 15 January. 200 people were attending a seminar when the collapse happened, unfortunately those who were on the bridge- about 20 workers- were not so lucky. Eight were killed and others were injured, some critically.  The completed half of the bridge was taken down six months later. It is in the process of being rebuilt.

 

Biggest Bonehead Story:

We had a lot of eye-rolling and forehead-slapping stories in this category. So we’ll start at the place where anything can happen: The United States

USA:

Man Destroys Historic Bridge in Indiana, Gets Sentenced and Asks for a Retrial- This really bonehead story goes back to the now extant Hohmann Railroad Bridge, which used to span the Grand Calumet River near Hammond. The person was arrested and tried on federal charges of not only trespassing onto the bridge, but destroying property for the sake of scrap metal- without even a permit. His claim: no one owns it so the metal was his. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison without parole, yet he just recently asked for a retrial- for treating him unfairly in court and for wrongful judgement! Mr. President (Donald J. Trump): I have the perfect candidate for you to replace Elaine Chao as Head of the US Department of Transportation! He’s that type of guy!

Truck Driver Destroys Covered Bridge in East Chicago Days after Its Reopening- If the mother of this driver was at the scene of this rather careless accident, the person would have had a lesson of a lifetime, known as You break it, you fix it! On 28 June, 16 days after it reopened and was designated as a historic structure, Mr. Eriberto Orozco drove his truck through the covered bridge, ignoring the warning signs and sensors, and plowing smack dab into the newly restored structure. When he got out of the truck, he smiled. He has since been cited for reckless driving and destruction of property. The covered bridge is considered a total loss.

 

International:

Three-Bridge Solution in Saxony- The battle between preservation and progress got a bit hairier and went way over the top with this story: A stone arch bridge had to be rebuilt elsewhere, moved aside for a modern bridge. Unfortunately, as you can see in the video, things went south in a hurry. Watch and find out what happened and why we have three bridges instead of one. The story is in the documentary Voss & Team and starts in the 11th minute.

 

Best example of a restored historic bridge: 

 

International:

Blackfriars Street Bridge-  This year’s awards are the year of the bowstring arch bridge for there were some great examples of restored bridges of this kind that have been reported. While the Paper Mill Bridge won the Ammann Awards in two categories, the Author’s Choice goes directly to the Blackfriars Street Bridge because of the painstaking task of dismantling, sandblasting and repairing (in some cases replacing) and reassembling the structure back into place. All within 18 months time, keeping the historic integrity in mind and the fact that the bridge still holds the world’s record for longest of its kind. This is one that will be discussed in the historic bridge community for years to come and one that deserves some kind of recognition of sorts.

Silk Road Bridge in Turkey- Runner-up in this category goes to the Silk Road Bridge in Turkey. The over 700-year old structure features a multiple span stone arch bridge, built at the beginning of the Ottoman Empire. The bridge underwent an extensive renovation project to strengthen the arches and super structure and put new decking in. The bridge looks just like new. A link to the project is here: https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/2018/12/26/restoration-of-5-centuries-old-silk-road-bridge-in-central-turkey-completed

USA:

A pair of bridges visited during my US trip definitely deserve some recognition for its work. The Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, Minnesota is one of them. The 1930s two-span through truss bridge underwent a makeover in 2017 with new decking and lighting, fixing some truss parts and a new coat of paint. The forest green colored bridge looks like it was newly built. It’s definitely one for the ages.  The other bridge worth noting is the State Street Bridge in Bridgeport, Michigan. The 112-year old two-span Pratt through truss bridge was restored in 2016 where the trusses were taken apart, sandblasted and painted. Some of the truss parts were bent and needed to be straightened. A new pier and new decking followed. The bridge is now one of the key components of the county historical museum, where a collection of historic houses and a park line up along Main Street, adjacent to the Cass River crossing.

 

37861611_1988264691204170_5033532642474065920_o

The Hidden Gem: Best Find of a Historic Bridge

Originally meant for finding only one historic bridge, I had to make some exceptions for two of the notables that deserve to be recognized. Henceforth, let’s have a look at the winners of the Author’s Choice in this category:

USA:

The Bridges of White County, Illinois- Fellow Bridgehunter Melissa Brand-Welch found a collection of abandoned truss bridges in this southeastern Illinois county, each of which had its unique design and history. There are at least six through truss bridges and numerous pony trusses that one can find here. Each of them have potential to be restored and reused as a bike/pedestrian crossing. This county got second place in the category of Tour Guide for American Bridges in the 2018 Ammann Awards, while Ms. Brand-Welch won in the Best Bridge Photo category with her oblique photo of the Siglar Bridge. Winning the Author’s Choice Awards in this category should be the third and most convincing reason for county officials to act to collaborate on saving these precious structures. If not, then Ms. Brand-Welch has at least three accolades in her name.

Camelback Girder Bridge in Wakefield, Michigan- Runner-up is this small crossing. Michigan is famous for its camelback girder bridges of concrete, for dozens were built between 1910 and 1925. This bridge, located 500 feet away from a park in Wakefield, is easy to miss unless the oversized chair next to the shelter catches you. Then during your stop for a photo and picnic, you will see it. May be a boring concrete structure to some, but it is unique enough for a brief stop.

International:

In the international category we have three bridges that deserve recognition because they are either rare to find or are rarely recognized by the public. We’ll start off with the first bridge:

Höpfenbrücke in Pausa-Mühltropf (Vogtland), Germany- Located just off a major highway, 15 kilometers west of Plauen in Saxony, this bridge was built in 1396 and was an example of a typical house bridge- a bridge with houses either on the structure or in this case, on the abutments. This structure was restored recently after flood damage forced its closure. The bridge is definitely worth the stop as it is one of three key points the village has to offer. The other two are the palace and the city center, where the bridge is located in.

Pul Doba Suspension Bridge- One of the fellow readers wanted some information about this bridge. It is one of a half dozen in India whose towers is shaped like one of the towers of a castle. It was built in 1896 but we don’t know who built it. We do know that this bridge is a beauty.

The Bridges of Conwy, Wales-  How many bridges does it take to get to a castle? Three, according to the city of Conwy in Wales, which has three structures that lead to one of the most popular places in the country: an arch bridge for traffic, a chain suspension bridge for pedestrians and a box through girder with towers for trains. Not bad planning there, especially as they fit the landscape together despite its space issues with the channel and the penninsula.

 

This sums up my picks for 2018. While we will see what 2019 will bring us for historic bridges, we will now take a look at the results of the Ammann Awards, which you can click here. Remember the results include a podcast powered by SoundCloud.

bhc eric delony thanks

Feature Video: The Bridges of Venice

rialto_bridge_at_night2
By Livioandronico2013 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Back in January 2018, I posted a guest column on the bridges of Venice, Italy, taken by a travel blogger, who discovered the many hidden sites of Venice that are worth seeing, as a person visits the bridges along the Grand Canal and other waterways that make the city famous. A video was posted recently on the same subject, yet the focus was on the bridges themselves, filmed from all angles including the surroundings.

To give you a better idea of what to expect from the bridges of Venice, here’s the nine-minute video which will give you more than enough reasons to go to Venice. Enjoy! 🙂

 

bhc-logo-newest1

Morandi Viaduct to be Replaced

ponte_morandi_crollato

1967 Cable-stayed Suspension Bridge to be replaced in response to the collapse. World-renowned architect to design new bridge.

bhc newsflyer new

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.

bhc-logo-newest1

Venice: City of Bridges- Guest Column

There are two different types of historic bridges: One that stands out in terms of its design and history and one that integrates itself in a setting, where if visited, one can experience the culture that both the bridge and the area surrounding it offer. One cannot modernize with a new crossing without understanding the implications they have with the neighborhood or landscape. And this is where this guest column comes about.

I happened to stumble across this column by accident and wished I hadn’t for I have yet to visit Italy and explore some of the finest bridges in the country. Italy is home to thousands of crossings dating as far back as the Roman Empire. This include some of the bridges that were built before and rebuilt after the fall of the Empire, including some by King Theoderich (see my article on this topic), such as the aqueducts in Rome (as described in another article here.) Then there are the bridges serving the waters of Florence……

….and this city, Venice.

Home to over 2.5 million inhabitants (with 260,000 living directly in the city center), the city is home to over 430 bridges, including two of the most famous landmarks of the city: The Ponte di Rialto and the Bridge of Sighs. Both of these bridges, dating back to the late 1500s, are part of the majority that can be easily reached by boat or gondola. A guide to the highly recommended bridges to visit in Venice can be accessed by link here.

Yet this guest column written by a columnist who focuses on life in cities and sunsets, puts together Venice’s historic bridges with the colorful faces that the city has to offer. It is a long column about her adventures through the city, and her impressions lead to readers like this one to add this city to the places to visit and bridgehunt- very high up in the Top 3. To look at Venice’s bridges, have a look at the summary below and click to read to the end. When done, you will not regret it like I didn’t but more like provide an incentive to go there and have a look. Enjoy! 🙂

The city of bridges, as it is fondly known, is everything you would imagine it to be. It has a surreal feeling when there, living up to all of its stereotypical features; pretty bridges over winding canals, narrow paths nestled between old tall brick buildings, gondolas and motor boats carrying fruit and vegetables, singing gondoliers […]

via VENICE – CITY OF BRIDGES — LIFE I WANT TO LEAD

 

bhc-logo-newest1

Padlocked Bridges: The Incident at Pont des Arts in Paris and the issue of padlocks on bridges

Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris. Photos taken in 1999

Lovelocks. Love locks the two together for eternity to come. And how to provide that but to attach a lock on a historic bridge and throw the key away into the river. The origin of lovelocks was from Serbia, where a school misstress fell in love with a World War I soldier and met often at the Most Liubavi in the Serbian town of Vrnjacka Banja. However, the couple broke up after he went off to war and the woman died a broken heart. In response, locals showed their solidifying love by putting their padlocks on the Most Liubavi and it became part of a work by Serbian poet and writer,  Desanka Maksimovi?. The bridge of love, where lovelocks are attached to bridge railings and other parts, later spread to other bridges in Europe, and today, lovelocks can be found in the hundreds of thousands on popular bridges, such as the  Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and even the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne.

Love locks on the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany

Yet these lovelocks are starting to pose a major problem, as can be seen with the latest incident with the Pont des Arts Bridge, spanning the Sienne River in Paris. According to reports by the BBC, parts of the parapet of the 1804 iron deck arch bridge collapsed on Sunday because of the weight of these love padlocks. This has raised a debate on whether the padlocks should be removed in its entirety due to concerns of the historic integrity and aesthetics of the bridge being compromised, as well as the hazard that is being imposed on boat traffic passing underneath the bridge. The Pont des Arts is one of three of the dozens of Parisian bridges that are laden with padlocks. The other two are the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and the Pont de l’Archevêché. Consideration is being taken to remove the padlocks in its entirety, as it has been done to several bridges in Europe and North America that have been the magnet for these lovelocks, such as the Humber Bridge in Toronto, as well as the aforementioned bridges in Dublin and Florence. Yet if any action is taken, it will run into stiff opposition by those wishing to keep the tradition alive, as this was seen by action taken with the Kettenbrücke in Bamberg and the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne last year. At both places, protests forced the proprietors of the two bridges (the City of Bamberg and the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn)) to retract their decision to remove the locks.

Close-up of the arches, the parapet and the lamppost.

While lovelocks are a symbol of eternal love and the tradition should be alive. The question is why choose certain bridges, such as the Ponts des Arts in Paris. Upon my visit in 1999, before the bridge became a magnet for this sensational ritual, the bridge was clean of all its padlocks, including the parapets and the lampposts dating back to the 1800s, when the bridge was not affected by the years of conflict it would sustain through the French wars with Germany lasting up until the end of World War II. It was restored in 1984 after parts of the span collapsed in the 1970s and was the hub for artwork, mainly from the students of the school of art École des Beaux-Arts. This included a series on cowboys and indians from the American wild west, which was on display during my visit:

 

 

And while art exhibits have changed from time to time on the bridge, nobody has expected the lovelocks to decorate the bridge, making it look colorful and more beautiful on the one hand, but ugly and one that can ruin the structural beauty of the bridge. But then again, love does have its good and bad sides as well, and conflicts can be solved through compromise, which will need to be made before too many lovelocks do indeed cause damage to historic bridges, causing damage and costing more money to repair and restore them than necessary.

It does not mean that lovelocks should not be allowed on the bridges and other places of interest. It should be encouraged, however in moderation. This means that only a limited amount of lovelocks should be allowed on a bridge or at or near a place of interest to ensure that the aesthetic and structural integrity are not harmed in anyway. This means that there are more places to show your love with lovelocks than just this one particular place, as long as it is allowed.

After this incident at the Pont des Arts, questions will arise as to what will become of the lovelocks on that bridge as well as the other two in question. Yet as lovers have done when being in love, when there is a will, there is a way to show the love and keep the tradition alive; if not at this bridge, then another one.

Question:

Apart from the aforementioned bridges in this article, which other bridges in the US, Europe and other places have this lovelock tradition? And if there is a bridge where you would love to see lovelocks on there, apart from the Lover’s Leap Bridge in Columbus Junction, Iowa and New Milford, Connecticut, which ones would you place your lovelock on and why?  Put your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook pages.

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 38: The Aqueducts of Rome

Aqua Alexandrina in Rome. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aqua_Alexandrina_02.jpg

If one ties this article in with the Mystery Bridge article about the aqueduct in Ravenna, Italy, then one should consider this part II in the search for information and answers to the role of Theoderich the Great in restoring the architecture and infrastructure during his regime. As mentioned briefly in the article about the Ravenna Aqueduct, the Ostrogoth leader defeated and later murdered Odoacre in 493 to become the second king of Italy. His predecessor had established the Italian kingdom after dethroning the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustus, son of Orestes, in 476 and held power until his death, but not before having a tumultuous last four years through war with the Ostrogoth. Theoderich ruled until his death in 526, and left a legacy that is disputable in the books. Architecturally, he spearheaded the construction of basilicas and other monuments- mostly in Ravenna, but also in other cities, like Rome and Verona.

Yet, as we saw in the article about Ravenna, he also led efforts to restoring the infrastructure- in particular, aqueducts. The question is: apart from the Ravenna aqueduct, what other aqueducts did he build?

Let’s look at the ones in Rome, for instance. Situated on the Tiber River, the present-day Italian capital once had a central network of aqueducts, which channeled water into and around the walled city from the Mediterranean Sea. 11 of them totaling over 320 kilometers were constructed between 312 BC with the Aqua Appia and 226 AD  with the Aqua Alexandrina (as shown in the picture above). Restoration of the viaducts started in the third century AD to improve the flow of water into Rome, but was interrupted with the invasion of the Germanic Tribes beginning in the 4th Century, at the time of the partition of the Roman Empire into East and West in 395. As they did throughout the region, the invaders destroyed the aqueducts and other forms of infrastructure until the Western Empire ceased to exist in 476.

Restoration did not start again until Theoderich the Great took power. Like in the times before 476, the infrastructure was the responsibility of the local governments and private residents, for the Italian kingdom was in a transition phase and did not have enough money available to reestablish itself and its institutions. Theoderich was very conservative in his plans to rebuild the infrastructure and chose the most important areas first for development: namely, Ravenna and Rome, but also in Verona and other smaller cities. While Ravenna was very important for him, and it was important to supply clean water to a city surrounded by marshland, his focus was also on restoring the aqueducts in Rome. While he had provided support to the local government to rebuild the aqueducts, he hastened the process in ca. 509 due to political corruption and other delays.

Many sources, written between 1980 and 1995 have not mentioned much about which aqueducts were restored during Theoderich’s era, and some even credited Belisarius for restoring key aqueducts after he captured Rome in 538, 12 years after Theoderich’s death. This was part of the plan of East Roman emperor Justinian to drive the Ostrogoths away from Italy and recapture parts of the lost land of the Roman Empire. Yet more information has come to light as to how the Ostrogoth restored the aqueducts during his 33-year reign over Italy, and therefore, as part of the project on the restoration of the infrastructure in Italy during Theoderich’s regime, the question is:

Which aqueducts in Rome were restored during Theoderich’s regime and who engineered these restoration efforts?

What other forms of infrastructure (not just aqueducts but also roads, bridges and canals) did Theoderich oversee in restoring for reuse for the population living in Italy?

Place your comments here or send the info via e-mail to the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Other contact info can be found in the article on Ravenna’s aqueduct, where some information  is being sough about this one as well. You can click here to view the article. Any articles and leads on the infrastructure in Rome and Italy during Theoderich’s regime will be most helpful in completing this project.