2017 Ammann Awards Results: Part 2

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Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, Wisconsin. Winner of the Bridge of the Year Awards. Photo taken by Troy Hess.

Just 12 hours after publishing the press release of Part 1 of the Ammann Award winners, there was a lot of positive feedback from our Readers, especially in the category of Best Photo, where Chauncy Neumann came out the winner in that category, followed by Esko Räntilla and lastly, Kevin Skow- just to name the top three of the top six winners of the Awards. However, just after posting the first half of the results, I contacted the winner of Lifetime Achievement Award for an interview, informing him that he had won and asking him if he would be interviewed about his work. His response: cool as heckfire, let’s do it! 🙂 There are two reasons for Nels Raynor to be honored for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. The first has to do with his many years of hard work in restoring numerous bridges, especially with his company BACH Steel, located in Michigan. There will be more on his successes when the interview is finished and posted. The second has to do with a historic bridge he restored that won an accolade this year. That will come in a bit. But looking at the results, Raynor was in a dog-eat-dog battle with silver medalist James Baughn of Bridgehunter.com throughout most of the competition until he pulled away with 245 votes to Baughn’s 105 in the waning days of the voting process. The Bronze and Tourquois Medals had to be split up among three people in each standing, all of whom had at least 104 votes but the margin between third and fourth place was only a single vote. Nevertheless, the finishing results look like this:

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:

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The Schlema Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River at Schlema

TOUR GUIDE INTERNATIONAL:

This category was the only one in the Ammann Awards where each candidate successfully vied for first place and stayed there before being dethroned by another one. Even the bridges in a small town of Rochlitz, southeast of Leipzig, took first place honors for a few days before being outvoted by silver medalist, Winnepeg (Canada) and bronze medalist, St. Petersburg (Russia). It finished in fourth with 92 votes, five less than St. Petersburg.  It also marked a first where a candidate was entered twice due to additional bridges that were added after the first run. That was with Glauchau (Saxony), Germany, which finished fifth in the 2016 Awards but because of four additional bridges, plus information from local historians and local publicity from the newspapers, it was reentered in the 2017 competition. It finished fifth, receiving the Quartzite Medal, after receiving 56 votes, far outdoing Quebec City, London (UK) and Cambridge (UK). The winner of the Tour Guide International Award goes to the bridges in the Aue-Schneeberg Region in western Saxony, Germany. Featuring the bridges along the Zwickauer Mulde, Schwarzwasser and Schlema Rivers, the region, which has bridges in the cities of Aue, Schneeberg, Schlema and even Zschorlau finished with 126 votes, after lagging behind Glauchau until the second-to-last day, thus receiving the Gold medal. More Information on the bridges in the region can be found here. Here are the rest of the results:

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Albertus Meyer Memorial Bridge in Allentown (Lehigh Co.), PA  Photo by HABS-HAER

TOUR GUIDE USA:

There are many characteristics that make this year’s winner a treat to visit. Lehigh County, Pennsylvania has a wide array of covered bridges as well as arch bridges. They include, on the one hand, the Geiger and Rex Covered Bridges- both the oldest still in use- but also the oldest stone arch bridge in Reading  (built in 1824) and the Albertus Meyer Memorial Bridge in Allentown, a 1913 arch viaduct that is the longest in the county. That was probably the main reason why the majority of voters selected Lehigh County as this year’s Tour Guide winner. After tangling with Clinton County, New York, Lehigh County received the gold medal with 201 votes, 71 more than Clinton County, which received the Ore Medal with 131 votes. Silver and Bronze go to the bridges in northern West Virginia, where Marshall County finished second with 149 votes and Wheeling finished with only two votes less. Civil war-based arch bridges in Bridges to the Past in Hardin County received tourquois with 132 votes. While the Cleveland Browns Football Team are walking away from the most humiliating football Season on record with an 0-16 record, the people of Cleveland are taking pride in the city’s bridges with 131 voters checking the City in for a fifth place finish and a Quartzite Medal. Here is the final tally of the top six of 14 candidates.

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The Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge at its new location in Conway, AR. Winner of the Best Preservation Practice Awards. Photo taken by Wayne Keller

BEST EXAMPLE OF A RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE

In perhaps the most intensive finish in the history of the Ammann Awards, the race came down to two bridges, each with its own preservation Story. The Springfield Bowstring Arch was perhaps one of the most successful bridge preservation stories on record, as crews saved the leaning 1871 iron bowstring arch bridge from disaster by dismantling it as well as rebuilding it at its new location at a park in Conway in Faulkner County, Arkansas.  For Nels Raynor, Julie Bowers and crew, this 18-month project, which included several volunteers, consultants and historians, was one of the shortest and most successful on record, for it usually takes 2-3 years to accomplish such a feat. But for the crew, it was the most successful story in the company’s history and one of the best in bridge preservation history.

It had some massive competition from another bridge, located in Des Moines, Iowa, in the Green Bridge. The 1898 three-span Pratt through truss bridge was restored on site with new cassion piers and truss bridge parts as well as new decking and lighting and became a posterboy in the face of the city council’s attempts to modernize the Des Moines River crossings by replacing arch bridges with faux arches. Grand Avenue fell victim with Locust and Court Avenues coming up on their plans. With their success Story, perhaps the City will rethink the way they treat their historic structures as they have been on the onslaught by those who think newer and leaner is better. Both Green and Springfield had raced neck-on-neck, changing leads at least two dozen times in the last two weeks of the competition before Springfield finally edged the Green Bridge for Gold Medal by a score of 1720 votes to the silver medalist’s 1682. Bronze went to the Ponte Pensil Sao Vicente in Santos, Brazil, with 717 votes. This category had more bowstring arch bridges in the top six than in the past, as the crossings at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds in Ohio and at Merrimack College near Boston finished in fourth and fifth respectively. The Ore Medal for sixth place goes to the Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, Minnesota, which the Minnesota River crossing garnered 366 votes. 6126 votes were recorded in this category, which was the second best behind the last category of the Awards.

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Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, WI: Winner of Bridge of the Year.

BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:

With 7160 votes total for 13 candidates, the Bridge of the Year category set a new record for the highest number of votes recorded  in the history of the Ammann Awards. None of the candidates received less than 200 votes each but there was a fierce competition for first place among five bridge candidates which lasted until the final four days of voting. It was then that 1800 voters selected the two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge spanning the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, the Cobban Bridge. The 1908 product of Modern Steel Structures Company is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but its future is in peril after county officials voted to close off the bridge to all traffic last year, deeming it unsafe. Officials want to see the bridge replaced by 2021, but locals would like to see the bridge saved and rehabilitated for reuse. There has been on ongoing debate on what to do with the bridge. Despite claims that the cost for rehabilitating the bridge is prohibitive, figures have been revealed as overexaggerating. Could the Cobban Bridge be the next Green Bridge of Des Moines? 2018 will be the decisive year for residents of Chippewa County and the state of Wisconsin as to what will become the lone truss bridge of its design in the state, let alone the last of its kind in the country.

Apart from the Cobban Bridge receiving gold, the silver medal winner went to the Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge with 617 votes, two thirds shy of the triple crown for BACH Steel. The duo truss bridges of Pulp Mill in Berlin, New Hampshire received the bronze with 589 votes, despite having competed with Cobban, fourth place finisher Hvita Bridge in Iceland (which received 580 votes) and the Wave in Glauchau, Germany for first place. Pulp Mill had traded leads with Cobban several times before the last rush put it out of reach by a long shot. The Wave finished tied for 10th with the Green Bridge in Des Moines and well out of medal range. Despite being arsoned for the second time in over a decade, the Cedar Covered Bridge near Winterset, Iowa received the Quartzite and finished fifth with 435 votes, 11 votes more than the ore medal winner, the Covered Bridges of New Brunswick, Canada, the topic of discussion and many stories because of closures due to structural issues and drivers falling through the flooring. Here is the tally in detail:

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And with that ends the most intensive but exciting 2017 Ammann Awards. Observing the voting process and watching people get engaged made this round as exciting as the Holiday Season itself, even though the latter was shorter than normal due to Christmas Eve falling on thr Fourth Advent which meant shorter Holiday Shopping and time for Christmas Markets. In any case, with plans of other Websites, like Bridgehunter.com planning to go international and the Chronicles providiing more coverage, including bridge tours, bridge book profiles, interviews and others, it is hoped that the 2018 Ammann Awards will be bigger and more exciting than this year.

While the author of the Chronicles picks his favorites to be published in the next article, those interested in submitting bridges, photos and more should keep in mind that nominations officially begin on October 3rd and end December 3rd. Voting will proceed right afterwards, ending on January 8th, 2019. Winners to be announced on January 12th. For details, click here and/or contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles if you have any questions.

For now, let’s have a look at the Author’s Choice Awards, which follows this article and I must warn you: If you are a fan of Judge Marilyn Milian of the People’s Court, you will have a blast at what she could have said to the stories that made headlines in 2017. Stay tuned! 🙂

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Lilac Bridge in New Hampshire in Visier

Photos courtesy of Royce and Bobette Haley
Photos courtesy of Royce and Bobette Haley

HOOKSETT, NEW HAMPSHIRE- After the Boscawen, Milford and Sewall Falls Bridges, another bridge is being targeted by the State of New Hampshire. The Lilac Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River in the town of Hooksett, is one of a handful of examples of truss bridges built by local bridge builder John William Storrs, with this one having been built in 1909 using bridge parts manufactured by the American Bridge Company.  The bridge has a total length of 490 feet, consisting of 165-foot long riveted Pratt through truss spans, each featuring Town Lattice portals with curved heels and How Lattice struts.  The bridge served Main street, going alongside the railroad tracks until it was bypassed in 1976 and left in place.

The city council and the state has been in talks about the future of the bridge because of its current state. The bottom decking is failing and there is a lot of rust, yet the truss bridge superstructure appears to be in great shape. Still, the city has elected not to spend the necessary $35 million for restoring the bridge and instead will spend half of the sum for a complete bridge replacement. According to the proposal, the truss bridges will be gone in favor of a mail-order truss bridge, whose design is yet to be determined. The historic bridge is for sale at a price of a dollar but only for a limited time.

Even if dismantled and stored before being restored and relocated, there is a better chance to save at least a portion of the bridge’s history than to have it scrapped, a traditional technique, which is being used like the Bible in New Hampshire, for over 70% of the pre-1930s truss bridges have been demolished and replaced in the past 10 years- an alarming and sobering statistic! And for the bridges that are products of Mr. Storrs, should the demolition machine process continue, his works will be a memory before anyone has a chance to know about him. Should that happen, then we know how our own American history will look like- instead of knowing about how America developed in terms of its infrastructure and social themes, we will eventually know about Ronald McDonald and Coca-Cola- a concept even the writer of the book Jennifer Government had envisioned when the dystopian novel was released 13 years ago,  but is slowly becoming realized day by day.

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Thanks to Royce and Bobette Haley for allowing the author to use some pics for this article.

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2015 Ammann Awards: The Winners

2015 Ammann Awards: The Winners

Amy Squitieri wins Lifetime Achievement; Gallatin County, Montana gets top honors in two categories, another accolade for Michigan’s Historic Bridges

JENA, GERMANY-  Earth calling Amy Squitieri! Ms. Squitieri, there is a customer out in Montana, specifically in Gallatin County, who has been profiling historic bridges in the county. The majority of them cannot bear today’s loads anymore but have historic character to it that many people don’t want to see scrapped. This includes the Nixon Bridge. Can you help?

After all, with multiple years of experience, you deserve the Lifetime Achievement Award, so your help is needed. 🙂 And as a bonus, the man named Troy Carter won Best Photo for the Nixon Bridge! 😀

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.
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A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.

Before getting to the rest of the results, the Chronicles would like to thank everyone for taking part in the voting. Thanks to Poll Daddy, people had no problems with the voting process, with the exception of the website being down once a day for five minutes, as that was the only complaint. Because of the high turnout, the plan is to keep the format as is for the 2016 Awards, which will run its original form with voting in December and the results to be presented in January 2017.

But going back to the results, Squitieri is the second person from Mead and Hunt in three years to win the Lifetime Achievement Award, Robert Frame III won it in 2014. And like Frame, she received 45.8% of the votes, far outpacing the second place winners from Ames, Iowa- consisting of Randy Faber, Judy McDonald, Hank Zalatel and Matt Donovan from the Iowa Department of Transportation- who received 22.4%. Julie Bowers from Workin Bridges recieved 14% of the votes, outgunning Nathan Holth by four percentage points.

And the rest of the results for LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:

  1. Amy Squitieri- 45.8%
  2. Donovan, Faber, McDonald and Zalatel- 22.4%
  3. Julie Bowers- 14%
  4. Nathan Holth- 9.4%
  5. James Barker- 5.7%
  6. Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler- 2.8%

 

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.
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Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.

BEST PHOTO:

As mentioned at the beginning, Galatin County, Montana won in two categories, which include the category of best photo. Even more so, Troy Carter obtained not only the gold medal, but also the silver for the picture above, of the Williams Bridge. Bronze medalist goes to Roger Deschner for his photo of the Savana-Sabula Bridge over the Mississippi River.  And the rest of the votes:

  1. Nixon Bridge (Troy Carter)- 51.2%
  2. Williams Bridge (Troy Carter)- 38.1%
  3. Savana-Sabula Bridge (Roger Deschner)- 6%
  4. Tied:  Bentonsport Bridge, Firescald Bridge, Thompson Bridge, Chapel Curry Bridge (1%)

BEST KEPT SECRET:

Due to a lack of entries for individual bridges, that and the city guide tours were merged for this year’s awards. However, the two subcategories will be presented again for the 2016 awards. As always, the votes were broken down to US, International and All around. The top three in the US category happened to be the winners all around, while the bridges in Newcastle (UK) and Paris (France) shared top honors in the International Division. Furthermore, he second and third place winners came from New Jersey, while three out of the top five finishers originated from New Jersey.  Here are the results:

USA/ All Around:  

  1. The Bridges of Gallatin County, Montana- 41.1%
  2. The Bridges along the South Branch Raritan River in New Jersey- 17.9%
  3. The Bridges along the Delaware River at the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border- 10.7%
  4. The Bridges of New Ulm, Minnesota- 7.1%
  5. The Bridges of Hunterdon County, New Jersey- 5.4%
  6. Tied- Newcastle (UK) and Paris (France)- 5.4%

International:

  1. Newcastle/Paris
  2. Tied- York (UK)/ Zeitz (Germany)

 

BEST RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE(S):

For the second time since its inception, the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo, Michigan has won an award by the Chronicles. In 2011, the Park won the Award for Best Kept Secret, while simultaneously, its engineer behind the creation of the park, Vern Mesler, won the Lifetime Achievement Award. As attractive as the park is and as big of a posterboy as this place has served, it is justified that the award is given, especially as 36.4% of the voters gave the people there the nod. 🙂 As for the other results….

  1. Historic Bridge Park in Michigan- 36.4%
  2. Tied- Sandy River, Portland Waterworks Bridge in Oregon/ Thompson Bridge in St. Louis County, Minnesota- 15.2%
  3. McConnellsville Bridge in Morgan County, Ohio- 12.1%
  4. High Bridge in New York City- 9.1%
  5. Swing Bridge Park at Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota- 6.1%
  6. Two tied with 3%

 

MYSTERY BRIDGE:

The competition was fierce, especially in the international division, but the unusual covered bridge in New Hampshire received 25% of the vote, and therefore took the USA and All Around divisions. Only 7% behind was the Waddell truss bridge in Clearwater County, Minnesota with 18.8%, and the Howe Truss Bridges in Blue Earth County won third place with 3.1%. In the International Category, the Estate Bridge in Staffordshire in the UK won the competition, and third place in the All Around. In second place, we have a tie between The Bridge of Lions in Berlin and the Natural Bridge at Mallorca Island in Spain. Third place goes to Havenga Bridge in South Africa and the Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge in Zeitz, Germany.  Here are the complete results:

  1. Covered Bridge in New Hampshire- 25%
  2. Waddell Truss Bridge in Minnesota- 18.8%
  3. Estate Bridge in the UK- 15.6%
  4. Bridge of Lions (Germany) and Natural Bridge (Spain)- 12.5%
  5. Havenga Bridge (South Africa) and Moritzburg Bridge (Germany)- 6.3%
  6. Howe Truss Bridges in Minnesota- 3.1%

 

 

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BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:

And lastly, the 2015 Bridge of the Year. While the Cliffton Suspension Bridge ran away with the competition in the 2014 Awards, the competition was fierce among the candidates, as there were several ties before the Hayden Bridge in Oregon came away a winner with 27% of the votes. Second place finisher is the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama, which was the site of the demonstrations in 1964. The 50th anniversary celebrations took place at this steel through arch bridge. It received 18.1% of the votes. The Savana-Sabula Bridge finished in third with 12.1%.  And as for the rest:

  1. Hayden Bridge in Oregon
  2. Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama
  3. Savana-Sabula Bridge
  4. Tied- Fehmarn Bridge in Germany/ Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland/ Calhoun Street Bridge in New Jersey
  5. Chemnitz Viaduct in Germany
  6. Traffic Bridge in Saskatoon (Canada)

 

FAZIT:

And with that, we have closed shop for the belated 2015 Ammann Awards by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. For the delay because of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the author apologizes. For that, plus in light of the 5-year anniversary of the Ammann Awards, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will be accepting nominations for the 2016 Ammann Awards between now and 1 December, 2016. If you have any candidates in any of the categories, please use the contact form and send them in this direction.

In addition, the Chronicles will have its own version of the Hall of Fame, where the top two candidates of each category of each year (from 2011 to 2016) will be voted upon, and the top three in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. More information will come during the course of the year. It is clear that two different and sequential voting processes will commence during December 2016 and January 2017.

In the meantime, get your cameras and candidates out there, you have more than enough time between now and December 1st, 2016 to win your fame and fortune with your bridge and pontist. 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 55: An Unusual Covered Bridge in New Hampshire

All photos courtesy of Scott Wagner
All photos courtesy of Scott Wagner

The next Mystery Bridge takes us to New Hampshire. We have read and heard of many stories of the Granite State losing dozens of historic bridges because of their being neglected by the local and state governments, including the Boscawen Bridge and this year the Sewall Falls Crossing. We’ve also read about the state priding themselves of their covered bridges, which are both loved and hated at the same time by many pontists.

Yet this mystery bridge brings metal and wood together, not to mention the covered bridge and metal truss bridge lovers. Located over a railroad bridge along Lakeside Avenue between Tower Street and Foster Avenue in Weirs Beach in Belknap County, this bridge presents an unusual truss design that is almost never seen nowadays. The bridge features a metal deck truss design in a shape of a Kingpost built on an incline. The outer portion has a 40° angle, whereas the inner portion has an obtruse triangular shape that is subdivided. Furthermore, the longest diagonal beam between the center span and the pier has a slight bent where the support beam meets. Looking at the trusses more closely, one can see that the connections are riveted, this putting the construction date up to the time after 1900, the time when riveted truss bridges were being introduced and proliferated with the standardization programs introduced by the states’ highway departments.

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The covered portion of the bridge in the center span features a pavillion with a half cylindrical roof colored in blue. The roof is supported by four iron piers, one in each corner and that are ornamental at the railing and where the columns meet the roof. The steps appear to be made of wood.

The bridge serves as the entrance to the  Winnipesaukee Marketplace, yet it is unknown whether the bridge was built at the same time as the historic building, or if the bridge existed well before that. It is known that this bridge presents some similarities to another bridge in Germany, the Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg, although the trusses for that bridge is not as advanced in appearance as this bridge at Weirs Beach. Plus the roadway of the bridge in Flensburg is straight, unlike the roadway of the New Hampshire bridge and its half-octagonal look. The Bridge of Friendship was built in 1920 and was renovated in 2004.

The Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of  Flensburg. Photo taken in 2011
The Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg. Photo taken in 2011

This leads to the questions of when the bridge at Weirs Beach was constructed- whether it was at the same time as the market place or earlier- and who was the mastermind behind this unique bridge design. Why build it over the railroad tracks when trains passed through on a regular basis 60 years ago and why not build a tunnel underneath? These questions have yet to be solved. Can you help?

Post your thoughts in the comment section here, as well as those in the Chronicle’s facebook pages and the Bridges page, where you can see more photos of the bridge taken by Scott Wagner (who is to be thanked for allowing use of the pics). Your thoughts and stories/history behind the bridge will be much useful in solving this mystery.

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Bridge Vibration: Can a bridge bounce?

Delaware River Bridge at Lackawaxen PA- one of the first suspension bridges built by John Roebling and Russell Lord. In use since 1849 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photos courtesy of HABS HAER

To start off this terminology page under the word Bridge Vibration, there is a story that is connected with this bridge. The Lackawaxen Suspension Bridge was built in 1849 by Russell Lord and John Roebling and spans the Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Together with the suspension bridge in Nuremberg (Germany), they are the only bridges of its kind in the world where the roadway is supported by odd-numbered towers. This in addition to the fact that they were both built before 1870. But the story goes where teenagers in the 1920s and 30s would try and race their cars across the bridge, then stop abruptly in the middle, creating a wave of vibration that would shake the wooden planking of the 300 foot structure! A dangerous stunt for it could lead to the bridge to collapse, but in those days, a carefree attitude towards bridges did not include liability issues like we have nowadays.

And this is where we look at the topic of Bridge Vibration. Can a bridge vibrate and if so, to what extent can it vibrate in order to make it safe?  This is in connection with some discussion about bridge vibration and how unsafe it is. Three bridges- two in Battleboro, New Hampshire and one bridge at Sylvan Island in the Quad Cities were the primary focus of this issue. City officials in the Moline (IL) portion of the Quad Cities feared that bridge vibration would mean that the potential for bridge collapse was there and subsequentially closed the bridge to all traffic this past May. The 1911 Pratt through truss structure, once serving as the lone key access to Sylvan Island, is now scheduled to be replaced this fall with a concrete structure that is not meant to bounce. The Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh Bridges in Battleboro were on the hot seat lately due to suspected negligence on the part of the New Hampshire DOT and vandalism by someone who justified his actions on bridgehunter.com and claimed that a 250 foot bridge does not bounce. Both bridges are scheduled for replacement in 5-10 years time.  This leads to the question of whether a bridge can or has to bounce. After inquiring about this with some bridge engineers who have worked with this topic, the answer to that question is yes, but with certain restrictions. Says Todd Vierendeel, who works for an engineering firm in South Dakota:  “All bridges will experience some amount of deflection under load. The repeated loading and un-loading of spans due to transient loads (truck and pedestrian) can generate the sensation of vibration, or “bouncing” as has been described here. Excessive deflection and/or vibration can cause structural issues, but it’s actually not desirable primarily from a user comfort perspective.”  Billy Wulff, a bridge engineer from Quickborn, Germany, compares this sort of vibration to a plank sitting on top of a box whose expansion and contraction is restricted in contrast to the plank.  Therefore, “…engineers build in tolerances (which they calculate) of movement.” He also added that engineers have tried to construct lighter bridges, using the same materials for both the structure and the flooring, in order for it to not move.

The danger to such vibration is that too much of it, combined with the usage of light-weight materials for bridge construction will lead to structural failure. Many bridges have collapsed because of what Wulff calls misunderstanding of science combined with unsuitable materials. The most classical example was the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington in 1940. There, too much light materials for the bridge deck on “Galloping Gertie” resulted in excessive bouncing in 40 mph wind, resulting in the bridge’s collapse.  Video of the collapse can be found here.  To regulate the vibration on all bridges, transportation agencies have bridge design codes to ensure that there is a certain tolerance to the bridge vibration; this applies to agencies responsible for highways and railroads, but as Vierendeel states, the guidelines are more stringent for pedestrian bridges as they can notice the vibrations more than automobile drivers or train conductors.

But for older bridges, like the aforementioned bridges, he adds that more care is needed to ensure that the vibrations do not cause any discomfort among drivers and pedestrians, namely because of the increase in loads going across the bridge.  Therefore, some adjustments, like additional beams, weight restrictions, and extensive maintenance are needed to prolong the bridge’s life. As for bridges that are closed to vehicular traffic but open to pedestrians, such bouncing is considered normal for as they were used to vehicles crossing it, its tolerance may have increased over the years, making the bouncing sensation more pronounced. Yet, as many experts have mentioned, it does not mean that the bridge is unsafe and sometimes, additional support and retrofitting the bridge deck to reduce the vibrations is what is needed to prevent any discomfort of bridge users. This happened with the Millenium Bridge in London, where fluid and mass dampers were retrofitted to reduce the vibration frequency caused by many people crossing the bridge.

So to answer the questions, yes it is possible for bridges to vibrate when crossing, but only within tolerances that are imposed in bridge designs approved by transportation agencies. Should bridges witness any excessive vibrations, it is possible to fix the problem by adding support to the decking and retrofitting bridge parts to ensure that the vibrations are at a minimum. There is no such thing as a bridge not vibrating because of factors involving temperature differences combined with the volume of traffic crossing the bridge.  This leads to the question of the necessity to tear down bridges that vibrate when it is all part of the way the structure functions. Sometimes some minor repairs to bridges like the ones mentioned combined with continuous maintenance is all that is needed to ensure that the bridge lasts longer and the tax payers do not have to suffer as a result of tearing down a bridge for something whose quality cannot match that of the one that is destined for the scrap heap.  While it may be too late to save the Sylvan Island Bridge, it is something officials in New Hampshire and other states should consider before deciding on replacement over restoration.

The author would like to thank Billy Wulff and Todd Vierendeel (the names and occupation were changed to protect their identity) for their help in clarifying this topic.

 

Newsflyer 13 September 2013

Chicago and Great Western Bridge in Des Moines- now a distant memory. Photo taken in August 2011

Iowa railroad bridge now history; another Mississippi River crossing to be demolished; Riverside Bridge example being taken on by other bridge groups?

Do you know of a historic bridge that you wanted to photograph but you could not because it was gone before you had a chance to visit it? Many people have these bridges on their places to visit list but when they visit them, end up with a piece of metal as a souvenir because it ended up in the dumpster. And one can imagine the reactions that these people had when this happens: “If I would have bleeping known that it was going to be demolished, I would have bleeping done this and bleeping done that……” as one of the pontists explicitely did while we were on tour of some bridges in western Ohio in 2010.

There have been several bridges in the US alone this year that has fallen into one category or the other, many of which have already been mentioned in the Newsflyer. But there are some that are doomed, but there is still a chance to see them while they still are standing, even though in the case of a couple bridges, the decision to replace instead of rehabilitate have reasons that are questionable. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a round of unfortunate events here in this Newsflyer for Friday the 13th.

 

CGW Bridge finally gone.

The City of Des Moines has a wide collection of bridges, historical and fancy, spanning the Raccoon and Des Moines River for over 130 years. Unfortunately, this bridge (as seen in the picture above) is no longer one of them. Two days ago on the 12th anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on New York and Washington, the last of the four spans of the Chicago  Great Western Bridge spanning the Des Moines River south of the confluence with the Raccoon River was pulled down with hundreds of spectators watching from the Scott Avenue Bridge. A link to the video can be found here.  The 1887 bridge had been abandoned since 2001, and plans were in the works to incorporate the Pratt through truss bridges with a 15° skew into the bike trail network. Yet a series of unfortunate events sealed the bridge’s fate, starting with the flood of 2008 and 2011 combined with a series of arsons which substantially damaged the bridge’s deck and piers. The plan to raise the dikes and bridges to ease the flooding along the Des Moines River sealed the railroad bridge’s fate, as work commenced in the Summer of last year to tear down the bridge. The Chronicles was the first to report on this development as unusual activity was reported which caused the first westernmost span to collapse. It was later reported that the bridge was being removed. When the bridge was reduced to one span on the east end of the river by fall, there was hope that the bridge, which was handed back over to the City of Des Moines after the demolition contractor canceled his contract to demolish and remove the entire structure, there was hope that the bridge could either be relocated for reuse or converted into the pier. A facebook page promoting the preservation of the last span was created earlier this year, but it was taken down recently. It was also present at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend. But in the end, it had to go. Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the bridge, commenced with the dismantling of the bridge and with one screeching fall, the span ended in the river.  It will take until the end of this year to remove the steel and piers. Then the bridge will be all but a memory. John Marvig visited the bridge multiple times and has photographed the bridge when it was being removed. A link can be found here with information on the bridge’s history.

 

Sylvan Island Bridge to come down

Located in Moline, which is part of the Quad Cities, and spanning the Sylvan Slough, which was part of the Mississippi River, this 1901 two-span Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings provided people with the only link to Sylvan Island from Moline. That was until earlier in May of this year, when concerns over the bridge bouncing when crossing led to it being closed and fenced off to all traffic. Now the bridge’s fate appears to be sealed as the city hired a contractor to tear down the structure and replace it with a more modern one. When the bridge will come down is unknown, but the window is closing fast for those wanting to see it before it becomes history. The decision to tear down the bridge has led to two questions: 1. Does a bouncing bridge really justify the need to replace it or if it is just a knee-jerk reaction in the name of liability, and 2. What will the future hold for the other bridge located at Sylvan Island: an 1869 Whipple through truss bridge that was brought in from Burlington to serve rail traffic until its abandonment?  Both of these questions are being pursued, and the Chronicles will keep you posted.

 

Reasonability versus Radicalism involving a pair of New Hampshire bridges

The Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh Bridges are two identical green 1920 Parker through truss spans that carry NH Hwy. 119 over the Connecticut River and its island connecting Battleboro and Hinsdale. Both are considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But sadly both are too narrow and need to be replaced. Replacement plans have been in the works  for over 20 years, but one person tried to quicken the process by vandalizing the bridge. Mike Mulligan was arrested for pulling the wooden planks from the pedestrian boardwalk and causing additional damage to the structure as a way of justifying the need to replace the bridge. He was later released with a restraining order that he stays away from the bridge and if he needs to cross it, he must not get out of the car. Mr. Mulligan recently used James Baughn’s Bridgehunter website to justify his actions, which turned into a philosophical discussion involving the bounciness and the oil for the wheel. Needless to say he did not receive any support but he is in the running for the 2013 Smith Awards in the category “Dumbest Reason to Destroy a Bridge.” A link to the Charles Dana Bridge with the dialogue in the comment section can be found here.  As for the bridges themselves, they are scheduled to be replaced but plans are in the making to convert these bridges into pedestrian crossings. But it will take 3-5 years before work actually begins, given the current budget situation in New Hampshire.  Sorry Mike, but you have to deal with the current situation and grin and bear it. It’s better than going to jail and paying dearly for vandalism.

 

Rehabilitation or Replacement? Dilemma with the Tunnel/Bridge

Blue Earth County in south central Minnesota has one of the highest number of historic bridges in the state of Minnesota. Or given the trend that has occurred in the last two decades, it had one of the highest number of pre 1950 bridges. And if things go in the way of the county engineer, another bridge, a 20 foot long and 36 foot wide tunnel/bridge, which spans Minneopa Creek at the State Park near Mankato will be altered beyond recognition. Built in 1876, the arch bridge carries a railroad and county road but is unique because the tunnel shifts at a 45° angle. The county plans to replace the road version but it is unknown whether the railroad portion will also be replaced. The reason for the plan is because the stone arch was deteriorating. Can a stone arch deteriorate and if so how? This question will be pursued in hopes there will be some concrete answers to be posted in the future. In the meantime, attempts are being made to nominate the bridge onto the National Register and address the need to preserve the bridge. More information on that will come.

Blue Earth County built a high number of Marsh Arch bridges and iron bridges built by the Wrough Iron and Bridge Company. This includes the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, the longest of its kind in the country and second longest in the world behind the Blackfriars Bridge in Ontario (Canada). A tour of the bridges will be provided in the Chronicles.

One bridge spared, two on the way out?

Wheeling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo taken by author during visit in August 2010

Sioux Falls’ local bridge receives a new life; Wheeling Suspension Bridge failing; Sewell Falls Bridge to be razed and replaced

With Sequestration (the process of initializing automatic budget cuts across the border) taking hold on the American way of life with the potential of putting the recovery process in reverse, for many pontists and bridge enthusiasts alike, the last bit of news one could receive are some more bridges either failing or coming down with the wrecking ball. Unfortunately for two key bridges in the eastern part of the US, that may be the case, as the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles presents its newsflyer with the details:

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Spanning the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia, this wire suspension bridge, built in 1849 with the total length of 1307 feet (main span 920 feet), used to carry the National Road, which connected Cumberland, Maryland with Vandalia, Illinois and was the first road to use macadam for surfacing. It took 26 years to construct 620 miles of highway, the first in the country, but the suspension bridge at Wheeling did not come into being until 1849, with Charles Ellet Jr. designing the bridge. After its collapse in 1854, it was rebuilt by Ellet again and was later reinforced with additional wire cables, including stayed cables designed by Washington Roebling (in 1872), the same person who oversaw the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York after the death of his father, John Roebling.  While the bridge was restored in the 1980s to provide local traffic to the city, trouble is now looming for this National Historic Landmark, as inspectors found a snapped cable on the eastern tower of the bridge, prompting officials to close the bridge to all traffic, including pedestrians. The cable was designed to keep the bridge from swaying. How long the bridge will be closed off depends on how the repairs will be made to the bridge, let alone the length of time it will take to get the bridge back into service. It will without a doubt leave people with the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down” in their heads, replacing London with Wheeling. Yet it would create a tragedy similar to the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge crossing in 1940, when “Galloping Gertie” succumbed to 40 mph winds thanks to poor engineering. More news on the Wheeling Suspension Bridge will follow. A link to the bridge closure can be found here.

Note: Wheeling had already lost another historic landmark with the demolition of the Bridgeport Bridge in 2011 after over 20 years’ abandonment.

 

Sewell Falls Bridge coming down

The process of decimating New Hampshire’s historic bridges continues as another bridge is slated for demolition, with no chance to protest the decision. The city of Concord voted on Thursday to proceed with the demolition process as inspection reports revealed that the bridge deteriorated to a point where a complete rehabilitation of the structure would be futile. The original plan had been to construct a new bridge alongside the two-span through truss bridge with riveted connections that was built by a prominent bridge builder, John Storrs, who was influential in the city of Concord, and later became mayor of the state capital. While residents are hesitant regarding the potential to convert the residential street into a major highway, city officials believe that a new bridge is a necessity due to safety and liability concerns. The bridge will remain in its place for another year or so as funding is being collected for the project, meaning it will be in service for people to see until 2015, when the entire city landmark becomes a pile of scrap metal. More on the city’s decision can be found here.

Photo taken by the author while on a bike tour in 1999. Note, this was taken underneath the McKennan Hospital Car Park Complex

McKennan Railroad Bridge receives new life

Of the dozens of bridges that were targeted for demolition, as mentioned in an earlier article in the Chronicles, it appears that this Big Sioux Crossing, located at the former McKennan Hospital Car Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will be spared after all. Built in the early 1900s, this two-span Howe pony truss bridge used to serve the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad before the company went into administration and the bridge was given to the City of Sioux Falls in the 1970s to be converted into a pedestrian bridge. Despite one of the spans falling into the river during the 1946 Flood, the bridge has remained in service since then. Despite talks to demolish the sturcture, sources closest to the Chronicles revealed that the bridge will be saved thanks to the plans from a local hotel to integrate it into its plans. It will serve as the entrance to the hotel’s terrace, while at the same time, provide access to the city’s bike trails. This is a win-win situation for the city and the developers, especially as the city already has a grand track record for reusing its historic bridges for recreational purposes. Over a dozen historic bridges are still being used as bike trails and other recreational purposes, half of them coming from former railroad lines that had existed prior to 1970. It accounts for a third of Minnehaha County’s number of historic bridges including those along the Big Sioux River. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will provide you with a tour of the region, which will be posted later on the in the spring.