Cairo Bridge Closed for a Year

Photos taken by James Baughn

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CAIRO, ILLINOIS- It is a prized landmark at a town where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet. Built in 1929 and is a product of the American Bridge Company and the Missouri Valley Iron Works Company, it spans the Mississippi River right at the junction of the two rivers. The Mile-Long Bridge has seen its years of wear and tear, especially as commuters have to endure two lanes of traffic-narrow enough to a point where the mirrors of oncoming cars meet while crossing, as many motorists have complained about- and as truck drivers have to abide by the weight restrictions- something almost no one does nowadays. It has even been affected by the floods of 1993 and 2011 but survived with little or no damage to the piers.

Now the Cairo Bridge, the key bridge for the town located at the junction of three states- Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri is now closed for a whole year, as the steel cantilever Warren truss span with X-frame portal bracings and riveted connections undergoes a much-needed renovation. According to information by Missouri DOT, some of the repairs will include replacing the bridge deck to make it sturdier and wider as well as replacing some structural parts worn out completely due to wear and tear. It is unknown how expensive the renovations will be, but it is expected to be in the tens of millions of US-dollars.

Travellers crossing the Mississippi River will have no problems for the detour will be through the I-57 bridge, located northwest of Cairo. However those wanting to cross the Ohio River from the south on the west bank of the Mississippi going north will have to use the I-155 Bridge at Caruthersville in order to reach their destinations. It is hoped that the repairs are done both in a qualitative manner, but also quantatively in terms of time and convenience so that motorists can use the bridge again with no problems  even if they have to put up with a bridge that’s too narrow…

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments involving this bridge. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery of photos posted by James Baughn and others just by clicking on the pic below, which will take you to the Bridgehunter.com site.

 

2013 Ammann Awards Results Part I

Dodd Ford Bridge spanning the Blue Earth River near Amboy, Minnesota. One of many historic truss bridges profiled and considered historically significant by Bob Frame, winner of the 2013 Lifetime Legacy Awards. Photo taken by the author in September 2010

Robert (Bob) Frame III elected overwhelmingly for Lifetime Achievement; same result for Riverside Bridge (Ozark, Missouri) for Best Preservation Example. Halle (Saale) and Flensburg (Germany) numbers one and two respectively for Mystery Bridge.    

Run-off vote for Spectacular Bridge Vote underway. Results expected on Friday.

For this year’s Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, there is a first for everything. While 45-50 voters participated in this year’s voting (which included some casting their vote for one category only, and canceled out the voting scheme on the ballot) we had a pair of deadline extensions- one due to the Arctic Blast which kept people from voting due to blocked roads and power outages and another due to multiple ties for first place in four categories, and now a run-off election for one category.

But despite the complications, one of the unique themes of the election is how people in general (not just the pontists and bridge experts) weighed in their support for their candidates in droves, making the elections a nail-biter to the very end. It shows that people appreciate their bridges and the preservation efforts that accompany them. How exciting was the voting? Let’s have a look at the results for their respective categories.

Lifetime Achievement:

When I contacted him for the first time over seven years ago regarding inquiries about some bridges in Minnesota, my homestate, I got more than I bargained for when he provided me with an encyclopedia’s worth. But through his work, several historic bridges in Minnesota and other states have been preserved with more yet to come, including the Dodd Ford Bridge near Amboy in Blue Earth County.  Robert (Bob) Frame III capped off his successful 40+ year career by winning the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work- but by an overwhelming majority, outracing his distant competitors, Nels Raynor and Bill Moellering. An interview with him will follow later on in the year in the Chronicles, which I’ll find out more about his passion for historic bridges and how it bore fruit careerwise, as a senior historian at Mead & Hunt, a post he still holds at present.

Results:

Robert Frame III     18

Nels Raynor                 7             Raynor engineered successful preservation efforts in                                                                   Texas, Kansas and Iowa (among others) and is                                                                               spearheading efforts to save the Bunker Mill Brudge

Bill Moellering             5             36 years of success as county engineer and                                                                                     preservationist for Fayette County brought him an                                                                       award for the county in another category and better                                                                     chances of integrating the historic bridges into a tourist                                                               attraction.

Other participants:  Friends of the Aldrich Change Bridge (4) and James Stewart (2)

 

Bridge of the Year:

Bixby Creek Bridge along CA Hwy. 1 in Big Sur, California. Photo taken by Ian McWilliams, used with permission under the guidelines by wikipedia

Spanning the creek bearing the bridge’s name, this 1932 concrete deck arch structure is one of the tallest in the world, the most photographed by tourists because of its aesthetic nature and one of the most widely used bridge for American culture, as it was used in several Hollywood films, and it is even on a US Stamp. Now it earns another title, which is the 2013 Bridge of the Year Award, despite winning by a narrowest of margins. The bridge: The Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, in Monterrey County, California, located along the original US 101 (now called CA Hwy. 1), which has many bridges of this caliber between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. But not as popular as this bridge.

Results

Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur                 12

Hastings Arch Bridge in Minnesota      11      Spanning the Mississippi River, the                                                                                                 1951 steel through arch bridge (known                                                                                              as Big Blue) was built at the site of the                                                                                              Hastings Spiral Bridge. Now Big Red,                                                                                                the largest tied arch bridge in North                                                                                                America has taken over in hopes it can                                                                                            outlive Big Blue.

Wells Street Bridge in Chicago                7      This deck truss bascule bridge, built in                                                                                             1922 was the focus of a major                                                                                                             unprecedented habilitation project last                                                                                             year, as the trusses were replaced with                                                                                           duplicate ones keeping the historic                                                                                                   integrity in tact.

Other votes: Vizcaya Bridge in Spain (6), Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany (5), Petit Jean Bridge in Arkansas (4) and Prestressed Concrete Bridge near Cologne (Germany) (3)

 

Mystery Bridge:

Hafenbahn Bridge spanning the Saale River in Halle (Saale). Photo taken in August 2011

In its inaugural year, the category Mystery Bridge had not only a winner and a second place finisher in its own territory, but overall.  The Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has a unique design, a unique history in connection with politics, but an unknown history as to who constructed this structure in 1884, which has survived two World Wars and the Cold War era nearly unscathed. That bridge received 12 votes, four more than its second place finisher, the Angelbuger Bridge in Flensburg (located at the Danish border), the bridge whose abutment used to house a bike shop, a comic store and a used goods shop. It shares second place with the winner in the US category, the Chaska Swing Bridge, which also received 8 votes. Also known as the Dan Patch Swing Bridge, it is the last bridge of its kind along the Minnesota River, which used to be laden with these bridge types, as it served as a key waterway linking Minneapolis and Winnipeg via Ortonville, Fargo and Grand Forks. The bridge is seldomly used and there’s hope that it will one day be a bike trail bridge.

Results (USA):

Dan Patch Swing Bridge in Minnesota                                                   8

Dinkey Creek Wooden Parker Truss Bridge in California              7          

V-laced truss bridges in Iowa                                                                    5

 

Dan Patch Swing Bridge near Savage. Photo taken by John Marvig

International:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale), Germany                                  12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg, Germany               8

Schleswig Strasse Bridge in Flensburg, Germany                              1

 

All Around:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale)                                                          12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg and

Dan Patch Swing Bridge                                                                                 8

Dinkey Creek Bridge in California                                                             7

 

Best Preservation Example:

Photo taken in August 2011

It took three years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of hours of volunteer work and effort by thousands of people with direct ties to this 1909 Canton Bridge Company structure, plus a Historic Bridge Weekend event not to mention lots of politicking and clarification of the laws. But it all paid off as the Riverside Bridge, spanning Finley Creek in Ozark, Missouri, located east of Springfield, was rehabilitated and reopened to traffic in August 2013.  The group was informed yesterday that it has been awarded the Preservation Missouri Award for its work. The Ammann Award for Best Preservation Practice, awarded on the international scale has put the cherry on top of a cake that took so long to make, thanks to the people for their efforts, esp. as the bridge won by a smashing majority!

Best Preservation Practice:

Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri        19

North Bennington Bridge in Vermont       7            A set of Moseley Arch trusses                                                                                                           were found along the road-                                                                                                                 dismantled after service. It was                                                                                                         reassembled and now, it’s a bridge                                                                                                   again.

Big Four Railroad Bridge in Kentucky    6            45 years out of service, the City of                                                                                                    Louisville put the Ohio River                                                                                                              crossing back into service as a                                                                                                            pedestrian bridge.

Other votes:  Cremery Bridge in Kansas (6), Petit Jean Bridge (5), Wells Street Bridge in Chicago (5), The Bridges of Robertson County, Texas (5), Checkered House Bridge in Vermont (2), Moose Brook Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio (1) and Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, Washington (1)

 

More results of the Ammann Awards are found in Part II. To be continued……

 

Newsflyer 24 May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Major Truss Bridge Collapses in Washington, another Ohio River Truss Bridge Doomed, another Iowa Truss Bridge’s future in Limbo, Hope for Minnesota Bridge?

On the eve the upcoming SIA Conference in Minneapolis/ St. Paul this weekend, one would think that the tornado that wiped Moore, Oklahoma off the map (and with that, half of the Newcastle Bridge) would be the top theme to talk about, as people are cleaning up and questions remain on how to rebuild the infrastructure that is a twisted mess.

However, some other news has popped up in the past couple days have for some reason taken over the limelight, as some major historic bridges have been in the news- one of them in Washington state has rekindled the debate on the usage of truss bridges as means of crossing ravines from point A to point B.  Here is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ second Newsflyer in three days’ time:

 

Major Interstate Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington

Located between Mt. Vernon and Burlington over the Skagit River, the 1,120 foot long bridge featured a Warren through truss (with subdivided beams) with West Virginia portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The 1955 structure was supposed to be sound, as it carried Interstate 5, a major route running along the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. However, last night at 7:15pm local time, the northernmost span of the truss bridge collapsed while commuters were making their way home from work. Numerous cars were in the water, and there is no word on the official number of casualties as of present. The collapse has taken many people including transportation officials by surprise, as the most recent National Bridge Inventory Report gave this bridge a structural rating of 57.4, which is above average. The bridge was considered structurally obsolete but not deficient, meaning it was capable of carrying massive amounts of traffic. Yet this may have to be double-checked, as officials are trying to determine the cause of this tragedy. There is speculation that an oversized truck stuck in the portal entrance of the bridge may have caused the mishap. But evidence and eyewitnesses have to be found in order to prove this claim. I-5 has been rerouted to neighboring Riverside Drive, which runs through Mt. Vernon and Burlington, respectively, and will remain that way until further notice. The collapse will also rekindle the debate among engineers and preservationist alike of whether truss bridges are the right bridge type for roadways to begin with; this after many preservation successes, combined with the construction of bridge replicas, like at Sutliff and Motor Mill Bridges in Iowa, defying the critics of this type in response to another earlier disaster in Minneapolis in 2007. The Seattle PI has pictures and information on the Skagit River Disaster, which can be seen here.

 

Trestle Bridge in Texas Burns and Collapses

If the term “NO WAY!” is applicable to another bridge disaster, it would be this bridge. Spanning the Colorado River a mile north of US 190 and east of San Saba in central Texas, the 1910 bridge featured a 300 foot long wooden trestle and a through truss main span. While the bridge was still in use by trains to carry agricultural goods and oil products, the railroad company owning this bridge will have to either spend money on a new bridge or find alternatives, as fire broke out on the wooden trestle spans on Monday. In a spectacular video taken by fire and transportation officials, seen here, the entire burning structure collapsed like a domino. In the video, one person reacted to the collapse in three words: “There she goes!” Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire and destruction.

 

Cairo Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn

Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois to be Replaced

The Cairo Bridge, spanning the Ohio River carrying US Hwys. 51 and 60 between Cairo, IL and Wickliffe, KY, is one of the most popular structures along the Ohio River and one of the best examples of bridges designed by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski and Masters (with the help of the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company). In fact, the 1938 structure opened to traffic two years before the Austrian engineer’s death in Los Angeles. It is one of the key landmarks of the city of Cairo, especially because of its four tall towers that can be seen for 20 miles. Now, the City of Cairo will have to look at a new structure that will stand in its place. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already started the Environmental Impact Survey to determine the impact on the surroundings when the cantilever truss bridge is dismantled and replaced in favor of a new modernized structure, whose bridge type to be used is left open. This will result in the Section 106 Policy to kick in, even though transportation officials have ignored the alternatives thusfar, and the recent disaster in Washington will support the KYTC’s claim that the bridge’s days over the Ohio River will soon be numbered. Photos of the bridge can be found here, as with the history of Modjeski and Masters, which includes a biography of Modjeski himself, who also built the Quebec Bridge in 1919, still the longest cantilever truss bridge in the world.

Overview of the Cascade Bridge. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

To Replace or Not to Replace: The Cascade Bridge Story

One of the hair-raising stories we will be watching this year is the fate of the 1896 Baltimore deck truss bridge, spanning Cascade Ravine at Dankward Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa.  The City wants to demolish the bridge because it is a liability. Engineering surveys conducted by Shuck-Britson and Klingner and Associates recommended replacement as the most feasible alternative. Yet both surveys have been attacked because they were not sufficient. This includes the usage of photos only by Shuck-Britson instead of doing on-site research, which state and federal agencies consider not sufficient. The majority of the citizens in Burlington do not want the bridge replaced because of its historic significance combined with safety issues a new bridge would have. And now Iowa DOT is coordinating a public survey to determine who is in favor of replacing the bridge in comparison to who is on favor of remodeling the bridge for reuse. Here are the factors that are important to note:

a. The cost for total replacement ranges from $3.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson) to $6 million (according to Klingner). The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: between $2 million (according to Workin Bridges based in Grinnell) and $8.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson).

b. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the environmental and mitigation surveys need to be carried out before making a decision on the future of the bridge. In addition, it is part of the Great River Road, meaning it is one of the key tourist attractions along the Mississippi River.

c. The bridge, built by a local engineering firm based in Cedar Rapids with help of the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Company, was closed to traffic in 2008 due to structural concerns on the 464 foot long structure- namely deterioration of the concrete abutments and rust on the bridge joints.

d. Most importantly, the City Council is dependent on a referendum that would introduce a franchise fee, to help pay for the Cascade Bridge Project. Without the fee (which appears to be dead on arrival), the project would be one of the first to be on the chopping block because of lack of funding.

Nevertheless, the future of this rare structure remains in limbo and it is a matter of time before a decision will have to be made. One fact is certain, the bridge will be visited by many enthusiasts during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August. Perhaps this might bring this matter to one’s attention on a larger scale.  Please see the link with a copy of the article photographed by Julie Bowers upon request to read the details.

Overview of the bridge with a airline jet approaching the runway of the nearby Twin Cities International Airport. Photo taken in August 2011

Rehabilitate or Replace? The Cedar Avenue Bridge Story

Another piece of good news, pending on one looks at it, comes from the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, which is trying to rid itself of an important historic landmark, considered a liability in their eyes.  As part of the $1.5 billion plan to expand the Mall of America, the state tax committee on Wednesday granted $259 million to be granted to the City of Bloomington, which owns the venue. $9 million will go directly to the Cedar Avenue Bridge Project. Yet the city has to approve the plan before receiving the money. While the Chronicles has an article coming on this story, a brief summary: The bridge was built in 1920 and features five spans of riveted Parker through trusses, crossing Long Meadow Lake. Together with a swing bridge over the Minnesota River, it used to carry Minnesota Hwy. 77 until an arch bridge built east of the span was built in 1978. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1996 and has been fenced off since 2002.  Discussion has been brewing whether to restore the entire structure and reopen it to regular traffic, or tear it down and replace it with a new structure. As the bridge sits in the National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Regsiter of Historic Places, federal officials want the bridge restored. The majority of the City Council favor a brand new bridge. And like the Cascade Bridge, figures for replacing vs. restoring the bridge have been flying around, with no idea of which option or how the bridge will be restored.  Thanks to $9 million on funding available, discussion will be intense and the Chronicles will follow the story as it unfolds. In the meantime, have a look at the photos here to determine what to do with the bridge.

Bellaire Bridge to be sold for scrap metal on eBay?

Portal view of Bellaire Bridge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

With all the stories of thieves taking apart metal bridges for the price of metal, which includes stealing and dismantling a 50-foot long bridge in Pennsylvania, driving off with another short span in Turkey and the most recent story- stealing 90 meters of railing from a pedestrian bridge in Wales, one would think that stealing and selling this commodity at one’s expense would be the dumbest act ever, right?

Well, not yet. How about selling bridge parts on eBay without the consent of the demolition contractor?  This debate was recently added to a pile of other debates on the future of an Ohio River bridge, closed since 1991 but despite signing off on the demolition in 2002, has been put on indefinite hold since then.  The Bellaire Bridge is one of the oldest cantilever truss bridges still standing along the Ohio River. Built in 1926 by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company in Ohio with J.E. Greiner from Chicago overseeing the construction of this rather ornamental bridge, this bridge connected Bellaire on the Ohio side and Benwood on the West Virginia side for 65 years until its closure on orders by the Ohio DOT as part of the plans to demolish the Ohio ramp to allow the right of way for the Ohio Hwy. 7 expressway to be constructed. Since then, talks have gone from trying to reopen the bridge to now demolishing the bridge, considering it a total eyesore and a liability to both communities. Yet no one has really come forward with the money to get the job done. And given the historic value of the bridge and its aesthetic value, preservationists have stepped forward with alternatives towards demolishing the bridge because of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, especially in the face of opposition.

The bridge is now under ownership of Lee Chaklos and KDC Investments, which signed off an agreement in 2010 with previous owner Roger Barack, who had advocated the reopening of the bridge despite opposition from the two communities, Ohio DOT and the US Coast Guard. Yet Chaklos has two major issues to contend: 1. He has to come up with proof of liability insurance and a $500,000 performance bond to execute the plan and 2. He has to deal with the Benwood City Council and its debate over the escrow funding set aside for the project.  Yet with the parts of the soon-to-be-demolished bridge being on sale through eBay, he has another issue on his plate, namely who was responsible for this act, for he was unaware of this when asked by the Wheeling Intelligencer.

It seems that Chaklos and company are either clueless or lack the funding needed to get the job done and such action from an unknown source is another sign of desperation to get rid of the bridge once and for all. Already concerns of falling debris from the West Virginia approach has irked many residents and the US Coast Guard has issued an ultimatum, ordering Chaklos and company to finally start the demolition process by 20 June or face a daily delay fine of $1000.  Even residents are shooing photographers and pontists away from the bridge with shotguns, as experienced in a visit in August 2010.

Chaklos and company are scheduled to bring up the matter with the Benwood City Council, during a meeting on 23 April and come to an agreement to the issues involving the project. Yet given the circumstances involved affecting all parties involved, both cities, the Ohio DOT, US Coast Guard, and CSX Railways, which travels underneath the bridge, it would not be surprising if they in the end sell their assets to another party. This may serve as a sign of hope for preservationists and people attached to the bridge, for through extensive rehabilitation, which includes new decking, lighting and railing, combined with new steel parts and new paint job, the bridge may be converted from the most hated ugly hunk of metal to a piece of artwork connecting Benwood and Bellaire.  But as we saw with the demise of the Ft. Steuben and Bridgeport Bridges, this may be wishful thinking and the best solution is to sit and watch how the situation pans out in the next 8 weeks.

And as for the party responsible for putting the bridge on eBay: Congratulations! You may receive one of the 2013 Smith Awards for the most absurd action done to a historic bridge. While stealing metal parts from a bridge is just not cool for it can cause a life if the structure collapses, putting bridge parts on eBay without consent of the bridge owner to encourage people to buy the metal, despite its high price value is simply something you can never get away with and can spell doom if it backfires. Hope you have a good lawyer to fend off any potential lawsuits for falsifying information out of desperation, or your deed will be more than costly….

Check out Nathan Holth’s website describing the Bellaire Bridge here as well as through Wikipedia, which is here.

Big Four Bridge in Louisville, KY- open to pedestrians after being idle for 45 years

Approaching the bridge via loop ramp with a railroad sign indicating that people are now entering the famous landmark of the Big Four Railroad. All photos courtesy of Jonathan Parrish

In spite of the gloom and doom that we have seen with historic bridges lately, there is a glimmer of hope for some that did receive a new life. For the Big Four Bridge, spanning the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, the bridge received a new lease in life after being abandoned for almost 45 years. Consisting of the cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis, the Big Four Railroad owned the railroad bridge, consisting of six spans of steel through truss bridges, which the company abandoned in favor of progress. Jonathan Parrish, a fellow pontist who lives near Louisville, had the opportunity to visit the bridge when it was reopened to pedestrian traffic on 7th February of this year, and as guest columnist, is providing you with some background information on one of the relicts of Big Four’s past as well as some impressions of the bridge during its grand opening.

February 7th, 2013  Louisville, KY:

The bridge was built in 1893 for the Big Four, B&O, and C&O railroad as the main crossing over the Ohio River. In 1927, the Big Four bought out the interest owned by the C&O Railroad. Two years later, the Big four decided to move from a bridge with pin connections to one that is riveted and therefore, the current bridge was built around the old bridge so that railroad traffic could continue to use the bridge. One year later, the New York Central Railroad took over the Big Four and the bridge carried traffic for almost 40 more years, before it was finally closed to traffic.

After 1969 the approaches were scrapped and the main trusses were allowed to sit, the bridge became known as the bridge to nowhere due to the inability to access the bridge. But that of course has changed as close to 1,000 people were lined up that morning to at the bottom of the ramp for the soft opening of the Big Four Bridge. The grand opening will be this spring once the Jeffersonville approach is finished. After some speeches were finished by the mayors of both towns and the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, the noses of a railroad crossing started across the PA system. You could hear a steam engine and the bells from the crossing, and the opening was official when the railroad crossing gates were lifted. I could personally see no better way to open the bridge.

Closed since 1969 when the Penn Central Railroad decided to route traffic away from the structure,  the bridge gained a new life when it reopened at 11am on February 7th as the center piece of waterfront park. This project has been years in the making and has been looked upon with great anticipation.

The youngest to the oldest made their way up to the bridge and started the little under 1 mile hike across to last truss. You could hear the grandparents their grandkids talking about the bridge when it was opened and all alike were amazed by the structure. As someone who has been following the opening of this bridge since 2007, I was not only relieved by its opening, but I was a like a child who had just walked in to a toy store. Later that evening I revisited the bridge figuring the hype would have died down, only to find the bridge was as busy as when I left 3 hours earlier. I have to congratulate the state of Kentucky and Indiana for getting together on this project and completing it. Along with the people who run waterfront park. The bridge is beautiful and looks to stand and carry people for the foreseeable future. If you happen to be in Louisville be sure to come check out the bridge it is worth every moment. The views are outstanding and the bridge will just blow your mind.

 

Author’s note: According to Parrish, the Indiana side of the bridge is scheduled to have a new approach ramp added in the near future and when completed, it will serve as a major thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting Louisville with the neighboring communities on the opposite end of the Ohio River. More information will come as soon as construction on the approach ramp is completed. In the meantime, the bridge serves as a semi-ramp, crossing the Ohio River but ending in mid-air on the Indiana side.

 The author would like to thank the guest columnist for the article and the photos included which can be seen below:

Oblique view

 

Kentucky entrance
Side view of one of the Parker spans with an approach ramp seen in the foreground
Hundreds of people gathered on the bridge at the time of its grand opening, which lasted through the evening hours

 

Note: More photos of the bridge can be found in the Bridgehunter website, which can be seen here.

Mystery Bridge 13: A bridge named after a politician

Photo courtesy of Nathan Holth

 

This mystery bridge article starts off with a pop quiz- three questions to be exact:

1. What bridges do you know that are named after a politician?

2. Which was the very first bridge that was named after a politician?

3. Who was Henry Clay?

It has become a trend in the last decade to name new bridges after renowned politicians either on a local or a national level, while questioning the credibility of these politicians because of patchy records that dismayed the public and thus forcing many to question the validity of the named bridges. The first name that comes to mind is Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond, former Senator and Two-time governor of Missouri who was scrutinized for his anti-environment and anti-homosexual and multiple marriage policies and was accused of stealing moon rocks from the Apollo 17 mission, but was lauded for his free trade agreements producing jobs for Missouri. There are two Missouri River bridges named after him: one in Kansas City (open in 2010) and the other in Hermann (open in 2007). Here, one has to ask whether naming more than one structure after a politicians that was disliked by many was really necessary. But that is for Missourians to decide.

But this mystery bridge, located in Kentucky, was named after another famous politician; this one more colorful and can be found in most US History books. Henry Clay was the voice for the state of Kentucky for 41 years, serving as Senator, House Representative, Speaker of the House (on three separate occasions) and Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. He was the presidential candidate for the Whig Party, one of three parties he was associated with during his political career, during the 1844 elections, which he lost to James Polk. He was one of the war hawks, who voted in favor of war with the British Empire, leading to the War of 1812, and later favored to settle the northern border dispute with Canada (which was part of the Empire). Furthermore, he favored the emancipation of slaves and worked to establish a border between North and South, resulting in the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and Compromise of 1850, yet he opposed the annexation of states like Texas, for it would have provoked a major debate over slavery as well as war with Mexico, which occurred during the years 1846-48.  Together with Daniel Webster and John Calhoun, the they became the three musketeers and represented the interests of at least the northern half of the US, fostering the development of industry and infrastructure as well as freedom for minorities.

There are many institutions and buildings throughout the US and other places that have been named after him, including the Clay Dormitory at Transylvania University, and an educational institution in Venezuela, as well as streets, counties and even towns bearing the name Clay or Ashland for his estate, which his surviving sons inherited after his death in 1852. But it is unknown how many bridges were or are named after this famous politicians, except this bridge in Kentucky, as depicted in a black and white photo submitted by Nathan Holth. According to the description, the bridge was named after Henry Clay, yet it is located in a town bearing the name Valley. According to maps provided by Google, there is no town or city in Kentucky with just the name Valley, but there are two communities that carry the name Valley: Renfro Valley and Peewee Valley. Renfro Valley is located on the eastern end of Lake Linville north of Mount Vernon, and is connected by US Hwy. 25 and Interstate Highway 75 linking Lexington and Knoxville, Tennessee. Peewee Valley is located northeast of Louisville.  Given the proximity of the Ohio River, the author would favor the bridge being located near Peewee Valley, for the community is located 10-15 kilometers from the major waterway. Yet, one has to look more closely at the bridge and its surroundings to see that the third variable is possible.

Close-up of the same bridge, zoomed in by the author.

The Bridge features two long Warren through truss spans with no vertical beams. Judging by the width of the river crossing, it would not fit the width of the Ohio River, which is between a half mile and one mile in many areas, including a width of a mile in Louisville. In order to fulfill the length of the bridge, one would need at least eight or nine more through truss spans similar to the 200-250 foot long truss spans the Henry Clay Bridge offers. Therefore, it is possible that a town bearing the name Valley may have existed between 70 and 130 years ago but died off because of economic reasons and competition from nearby communities.  Judging by the trusses seen in the picture, it appears that the bridge may have existed between 1880 and 1890, which would fit the time of the existence of the town of Valley. As wide as the two-span bridge was, it seems that it was a wagon bridge used to carry horse and buggy and later cars across this river.

So despite the fact that a Henry Clay Bridge did exist in Kentucky, the question remains where exactly was this bridge located? Was it located in or near Renfro Valley over a segment of Linville Lake? Was it located near Peewee Valley, north of Louisville? Or was it located over another major valley in a small town that once existed, and if so, where?

There are two ways to send the information: one to Nathan Holth, who is doing some work on this bridge, the other here to the Chronicles. Both contact details are enclosed below. Once the mystery has been solved, the Chronicles will post the results in a posting of its own.  Happy History Hunting and read up on Henry Clay and his Three Musketeers of Capitol Hill, for their policies had an influence on how America is today.

Contact info:

Nathan Holth: http://www.historicbridges.org/contact/index.htm

Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com

 

Book of the Month for July 2012: Bridges: The Spans of North America by David Plowden

Newell Bridge in Ohio over the Ohio River: one of hundreds of bridges featured in Plowden’s book. This photo was taken by the author in August 2010

There are many ways to look at a bridge and determine its value, both aesthetically as well as historically. From an engineer’s point of view, the bridge is built to function as a vehicular crossing until it is rendered obsolete and considered for replacement. From a historian’s point of view, each bridge has its own history and identity to the community, going beyond the bridge builder, the dimensions and unique value that make it eligible to be protected by preservation laws. From a photographer’s point of view, each bridge has a beauty that makes it fit into the landscape, whether it is a truss, arch, cable-stayed or suspension bridge.
In the case of David Plowden, each bridge not only presents a beauty that warrants a black and white photo worth remembering, but it contributes to the history of the American architecture, infrastructure and transportation. 

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Born in 1932, Plowden started his photography career at the age of 25, providing the readers with a look at the development of American society, from the steel mills to the farming community, from the slums of the big cities, to Main Street USA, where small talk and hard work are the norms. He has published over 20 books including his latest one on the state of Iowa (which was released earlier this year), where a traveling photography exhibition of the state and its hilly landscape is currently taking place until 2014.
In the book Bridges: The Spans of North America, published in 2002, Plowden combined his photographic genius with some history to provide readers with an insight into the development of bridges in North America, beginning with those made of wood in a form of covered bridges, followed by brick and stone bridges,  the metal bridges (both in terms of short- and long river crossings) and finishing with the bridges made of concrete.  The over 400-page work provides the reader with an in depth look at the types of bridges that were developed, the bridge builders who used them for their crossings and where the bridges were located. While some of the bridge types mentioned in the book are well-known to the bridge community and historians, such as the Bollmann Truss Bridge at Savage, Maryland the concrete arch bridges of Pennsylvania and Oregon, and the common suspension bridges, like John Roebling’s suspension bridges, there are some others that had been mentioned briefly in other documents but were brought to life in this book, like the Whipple-Murphy truss bridges, many of which were constructed along the Missouri River between Sioux City and Kansas City under George S. Morrison in the 1880s, the Poughkeepsie Suspension and Railroad Bridges in upstate New York or even local bridges like the Bellefountain Bridge in Mahaska County, Iowa.  Plowden provides a tour into the life of each bridge engineer and his contribution to the American landscape with examples of bridges that bear his name and were meant to serve traffic for many years.


As for the bridges themselves, the photos taken by Plowden were genuine and provide the reader with an inside look at the structure’s appearance from a photographer’s point of view. Some bridges were photographed in areas that were run down and were not part of the urbanization movement in the 1960s, such as the outer suburbs of Pittsburgh, for example. Some bridges in his book were taken in heavily industrialized areas, like New Jersey. And then there are others in the book that had a unique natural background, like the bridges of Oregon and western Canada. In terms of how they were photographed, there were many bridges that were photographed at a portal view- meaning the entrance of the bridge, presenting the reader the bridge’s facial feature before entering the structure. This includes the past bridges, like the Point Bridge in Pittsburgh as well as those in the present, like the railroad bridge at Beaver, Pennsylvania.  While some of the bridges are known to the bridge community today, there are many that were rarely recognized but brought to the light by pushing the snapshot button and presenting a black and white picturesque view that definitely belongs to an art gallery somewhere. While many of these bridges, such as the Central Bridge over the Ohio River in Cincinnati and the St. Mary’s Bridge in West Virginia, a sister of the Silver Bridge, which collapsed in 1967 killing 46 people, have long since been demolished, Plowden photographed most of them in the 1960s and 70s, giving the reader an idea what they looked like before they were replaced.  Each bridge photographed in the book has some information on its history and the status at the time of its publication.

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It is very difficult to write a book on the history of bridges and how they were developed without having to narrow the focus down to the key aspects. In the case of the books on the bridges of Erfurt, Germany, one was focused on the technical aspects; the other on the historical aspects. One cannot have insight into the bridges without having to read both pieces of literature, even though they are both in German. In the case of Plowden’s book, he divided the subject up into the materials used for bridge construction, followed by the bridge types that were used and the engineers who built the bridges. To a certain degree, when focusing on bridges on a scale as large as North America’s it is a good idea, for it provides an overview into the development of the bridges from the beginning to the present time. This has been used in a couple other literary pieces, the latest of which will be the book of the month for August on Minnesota’s bridges by Denis Gardner (which falls nicely into the five-year anniversary of the I-35W bridge disaster in Minneapolis).

Beaver River Railroad Bridge over the Ohio River in Pennsylvania. This was one of many Ohio River crossings Plowden portrayed in his book. The author photographed this gigantic monster in August 2010

Yet when looking at the content of the book, most of its focus was on the development of bridges in the United States, together with the photos he took, with a small fraction being focused on Canada’s bridges (like the Lethbridge Viaduct in the province of Alberta and the Quebec Bridge). Most of the information and photos of the bridges came from those in the northern half of the US along the major rivers and in the northeastern part of the US, such as the Ohio River Valley, the Hudson River, and the Mississippi. These areas were the breeding ground for bridge development that spanned over 150 years and expanded into the Plains Region and beyond. If a person was to be picky about the content of the book, and focus on the history and development of bridges per se, then perhaps Plowden could have had two different books on the subject- one for the US and one for Canada. After all, despite the fact that this history run parallel in both countries, each one had its own set of bridge builders and bridge types with much of Canada’s bridge designs being imported from Europe as it had close ties with Great Britain and France.

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But there are two main reasons why Plowden chose to incorporate the two countries into one for the book. First of all, the history and development of the bridges were interchangeable. Canadian bridge builders immigrated to America to start their business and prosper. Bridge companies in the US had exceptional influence in Canada. The designs used for bridge construction were mostly similar in both countries, with a few minor exceptions. That means we have cantilever truss bridges in both countries, and we competed with each other to construct the longest and tallest bridges. And through their exchanges in information and designers, both prospered during the Industrial Age of the late 1800s.

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The other reason is the fact that Plowden is a photographer by heart. He not only provides people with a look into the lives of others in black and white, but he also provides them with unique scenery through the photos of antique works of art that still rules the streets (even though the numbers have dwindled rapidly over the years). He does not just showcase the photos for people to see. That would be too easy to do, especially in today’s technological age where anyone can post their pics on facebook, flickr and other websites. But each bridge that is photographed is accompanied by a story of its existence and the bridge builder responsible for erecting the structure and sharing his success to others so that they can either follow the lead or challenge it. The book provides the reader with general knowledge of the development of the bridges and the role of the engineers that contributed their history. And even if the majority of the readers are not engineers, bridge fanatics or historians, and even if one is unable to read the entire book from cover to cover, looking at the bridge photos themselves is enough to tell the story of how it was built and how it became part of North American history.

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So to end this review process, get your cameras ready and set out to go bridgehunting. Find a bridge that means a great deal to you, regardless of its appearance and surroundings, its history and identity to the region and regardless of its age and whether you can cross it or spend time walking to it. As soon as you find it, start shooting. Show the bridge to others and make it known to the public of its value through your camera lens and point of view. After all, there are more people interested in historic bridges than you know. Plowden knew about it and therefore, the book is sitting in my bridge library, waiting for me to open the page and have a look at the work that he did. Pride can help you prosper and people will take note of that.

Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge to be rehabbed. A step in the right direction for preserving Pennsylvania’s (remaining) historic bridges?

There is an old saying that was mentioned many years ago by British author Kazuo Ishiguro which stated that in order to be successful, one has to work within his own boundaries and with the resources that he has at his disposal. Some of the themes used in his novels- the most popular was of course “The Remains of the Day” (published in 1989)- have something to do with trying to go beyond one’s own limits only to meet failure and later regret some years later and eventually, these self-made tragedies are usually served as a lesson for future generations and those who have yet to experience life and know that there are limits to what one is doing.

I wish I can say the same for the governmental agencies and their dealings with historic bridges, for up to now, whenever a historic bridge that has a unique appearance which people can relate to is considered obsolete, they would successfully find ways to destroy them in favor of modernized structures with a very bland feature. We have already seen the demise of the Bridgeport and Fort Steuben Bridges in the Wheeling (West Virginia) area within the last nine months. The Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad Bridge over the Minnesota River in the village of Carver, located southwest of Chaska, was removed upon orders of the Union Pacific Railroad in October 2011 despite pleas from the villagers and those interested in preserving a bridge. And perhaps the latest act of stupidity among the agency is replacing the Dolles Mill Bridge in Bollinger County (Missouri) with a concrete slab bridge that is narrower than the Parker through truss bridge built in 1913.

So it definitely came to a surprise that the Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge, located over the Ohio River near Ambridge would actually be spared demolition despite being 85 years old and quite a narrow bridge fitting today’s standards. Built in 1927 by the American Bridge Company, the bridge is located in Beaver County, approximately 80 kilometers south-southwest of Pittsburgh, but still deep in the territory of western Pennsylvania.  Up to now, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation played a role of the wrecking ball in influencing decisions to demolish these bridges, destroying as much as 60% of its bridges within the past decade. This included the Foxburg, West Hickory, Venango and East Brady Bridges. Yet despite its bad track record, plus further plans to replace more historic bridges in and around the Pittsburgh area this year, there seems to be a change of heart, or so it seems, with this bridge.

I had a chance to visit this bridge during my tour of the region in 2010 and was quite impressed with its history and appearance. The bridge is a cantilever truss bridge using a Pratt design, and it was built using pinned connections, meaning the parts are put together via bolts and eyelets. The bridge features Howe lattice portal and strut bracings and finials on each of the four cantilever towers of the bridge, all shaped in a form of a curved pyramid.  The bridge’s east approach spans the Ohio River Boulevard and a couple abandoned rail lines before making its was across the Ohio River. After reaching the bank, the two Warren pony truss spans crosses the Norfolk Southern Railway before the road terminates at Constitution Boulevard on the west end of the river.  Its aqua green color gives the bridge an impressive look, and the people of Ambridge have used the bridge as part of their marketing strategy to bring more people and business to the community of 7,800 inhabitants. Interesting enough, Ambridge was incorporated by the American Bridge Company in 1905, by converging neighboring Legionville with the remnants of the village of Economy, which was founded in 1824 by the Harmony Society. The bridge building company was located here and was the main anchor of business in the city as steel mills drew in thousands of residents, looking for work and a place to start their lives. By 1940, the population had reached 18,968 before the steel mills shut down and many people left the community.  While the steel mills no longer exist, the city has preserved much of its business district and is now a main source of tourism. There is hope that the bridge will become part of that heritage once the rehabilitation work is completed.

I spent over an hour at the bridge and saw some bridge inspectors there, looking at the state of the bridge and making some notes and perhaps some recommendations. Judging by the appearance of the bridge, it was on the borderline between saving it and scrapping it. As draconian as PennDOT has been to the historic bridges, I would not have been surprised had the decision for the latter choice been taken. But much to my surprise after talking with the inspectors, my assumptions were wrong. From their point of view, it would be possible if the bridge would last another 25-30 years if some repairs are made.  It was a rather optimistic prediction given the sorry state of the bridges in the US in general.  As a whole, America’s bridges were graded C on a scale from A (excellent) to F (fail) by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009. That means that despite progress in repairing/ rehabilitating as well as replacing bridges deemed structurally obsolete to today’s standards, there is still more work to be done. Yet in terms of preserving historic bridges in general, my grade would be in the D range, and in the case of Pennsylvania, a walloping F.  That means that historic bridges most of the time are minimally maintained, causing them to deteriorate to a point where replacement is warranted. And that could be expensive, as a new bridge is four times as expensive as updating the bridge to meet current traffic standards. There were many examples of historic bridges I visited in western Pennsylvania that fell victim to neglect because of incremental ways to save money for maintenance- even for a good coat of paint if it is needed. As of this entry, a couple have since been removed and replaced and a few more are slated to come out soon.

Despite its top three ranking for the worst infrastructure in the country, Pennsylvania has been trying to catch up on bridge work through its massive bridge replacement program, regardless of where the funding comes from- from the state, federal government or even the private sector. Yet given the dire straits of the US economy and the political stalemate that has been going on in Washington- especially in light of this year’s presidential elections, it seems that the funding is being dried up faster than there are plans for replacing bridges in the next five years. Henceforth, the only viable option for PennDOT is to heed to the demands of the experts in bridge rehabilitation and preservation, listen to the public and rehabilitate the bridge from top to bottom so that the structure can continue serving traffic for more than 30 years and still be part of the legacy that Ambridge still prides itself in.

The plan calls for a complete closure of the bridge between now and the end of November of this year and will include the repair and partial replacement of the bridge deck, replacement of the sidewalk and railings, repairs on the steel superstructure, new roadway, and a new paint job, just to name a few features of the project. What will produce a mixture of reactions from the public and those interested in the bridge is the change in paint color from aqua green to grey. While grey is commonly used on many truss bridges, it is highly questionable on this bridge, given its conformity to the surroundings. Yet there are some bright sides to the use of grey on the bridge, which includes it being brighter for cars at night and more noticeable for navigation on the Ohio River. What the bridge will look like once the rehabilitation is completed remains to be seen, but it appears that if the rehabilitation project is successful, it could spell a chance for PennDOT to look for ways to rehabilitate other historic bridges in the area. It does not necessarily have to be the main links, like the Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge. It could also be some historic bridges, like the Carlton Bridge in Mercer County, which only takes an average of 10 vehicles a day. Rehabilitation can be a win-win situation for all parties involved. It saves money, prolongs the bridge’s life and maximizes its usage and especially, it preserves the historic significance of the bridge and its affiliation with the community and the people connected with it. The Ambridge-Woodlawn Bridge may help PennDOT to finally turn the curve in terms of its stance on historic bridges.

Links:

http://www.bridgehunter.com/pa/beaver/ambridge/

http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=pennsylvania/ambridge/

http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/ambridge-aliquippa-bridge-closed-through-november-/nLKm5/

 

 

Bridgehunter Fast Fact:

Minus the greater Pittsburgh and Wheeling areas, Beaver County ranks in the top five of the highest number of truss bridges in western Pennsylvania, as many simple and cantilever truss bridges can be found within a 5-6 kilometer radius of each other on average. One of the reasons for this is the policy of rehabilitating and preserving pre-1965 spans with a potential of being reused again, despite the historic significance. A couple noteworthy examples include the Fallston Bridge (below). Built by the Penn Bridge Company in 1884, this two-span Whipple truss bridge was rehabilitated in 2005 and still serves traffic to this day. The bridge is located over the Beaver River near the Beaver Valley Golf Course in Fallston.

Photo taken by James Baughn in 2009

The other example is the rehabilitation going on at the Beaver Expressway Bridge (middle bridge in the photo below). Built in 1963, the bridge serves freeway traffic and was undergoing extensive rehabilitation of the deck truss span during the visit. The cities of Rochester and Beaver had already renovated a neighboring bridge to the north of the structure.

Photo taken by James Baughn in 2009

 

Author’s note: Unless noted, photos were taken during a tour in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and along the Ohio River in August 2010

Fort Steuben Bridge Comes Down- Bridge Parts Saved

 

Photos taken in August 2010

 

Here are some good news and some bad news for the bridgehunter community and those who are familiar with local history.  We will start out with some bad news. On Monday at 7:15am local time, the Fort Steuben Bridge was dropped into the Ohio River by a series of explosives.  As can be seen in a video provided by a local TV station out of Wheeling, the implosion was controlled and started with the roadway and trusses, which was then followed by the cables and finally, the towers, which were decapitated and fell into the far ends of the Ohio River.

Links on the demolition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVNM8LFVzUE

http://www.wtov9.com/videos/news/fort-steuben-bridge-implosion-videos/ln2/#comments

The bridge, located approximately 70 kilometers west of Pittsburgh and 35 kilometers north of Wheeling, West Virginia, was one of the last suspension bridges of its kind in the USA.  Built in 1923 by the Dravo Contracting Company of Pittsburgh, the bridge features a series of eyebar suspension cables, anchored at the piers located on both sides of the river, whose suspender (secondary vertical) cable supported the roadway that was reinforced with Warren pony trusses. Despite the extra support of the pony trusses, the tension on the cables (caused by the roadway) is far greater than with today’s suspension bridges because of the dead weight of the roadway. There are a handful of these bridges left in the country, a couple of which can be found nearby along the Ohio River with the Market Street Bridge in nearby Steubenville and the Newell Bridge, located 100 kilometers south of Youngstown, Ohio.

The Fort Steuben Bridge was closed in 2008, 18 years after the opening of the New Steubenville Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge which has come under scrutiny recently because of weakening cables and other problems identified in an inspection report conducted by the Departments of Transportation (DOT) in West Virginia and Ohio.  Attempts to save the bridge to be reused as a bike trail that would have connected Washington, DC and Indianapolis was quashed by officials of the Ohio DOT, who wanted to keep cyclists and pedestrians off the newly constructed Ohio Hwy. 7 expressway running along the west side of the river. The strive to demolish the suspension bridge persisted despite opposition from locals and preservationists wanting the bridge saved and reused for recreational purposes. Finally on Monday 20 February, 2012, officials from both states got their wish as a piece of history that tied Weirton and Steubenville together came crashing down without any remorse. In one of the videos of the demolition, one of the Ohio DOT officials stated “When ODOT’s not out plowing snow or repairing the roads we also enjoy blowing up old bridges.” Already the remark has drawn fire from critics like Nathan Holth, who compared destroying historic bridges in Ohio and surrounding states to bridges being destroyed by bombs in Europe during World War II. Needless to say, the demolition has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many with fond memories of the bridge which will linger for a long time, even after the next four historic bridges along the Ohio River are destroyed in favor of progress.

New Steubenville Bridge, the suspension bridge’s successor

The fortunate part about the Fort Steuben Bridge is at least a tiny portion of the bridge has been saved as memorabilia to be used as an education incentive to encourage students to learn how to preserve artifacts made of steel. During the visit with Holth and Luke Gordon in August 2010, I had an opportunity to examine the bridge further to see what (if anything) can be done to preserve the bridge. There were many sections in the truss superstructure that had rusted away to a point where one could punch a hole in the structure without breaking his knuckles and obtain a piece of history.  A piece rusted steel shown here in the picture below shows how neglected the bridge was prior to its closure in 2008.

Piece of history in one’s hand

 

If bridges like the Fort Steuben were maintained and painted regularly, like it is the case with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there would have been a chance that the new bridge would not have been built, wasting hundreds of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. Proper maintenance and rehabilitation would have cost a tenth of the amount needed to demolish and replace the bridge.  Instead the DOTs decided to neglect that notion and moved in the name of progress, regardless of the opposition. There still would have been ways to save the structure had all parties involved decided to undertake this venture, which would have consisted of sandblasting the trusses and painted them, as it happened with the Market Street Bridge, which is open to traffic.

Still the need to exert power by using dynamite on the part of the DOTs was and is still strong. If statements like the one by the Ohio DOT persist, what would their reactions be like when a modern bridge, like the New Steubenville Bridge is slated for demolition? Would they take the same pleasure of demolishing a modern bridge as they would with a pre-1950 bridge?  Perhaps not, but when the public finds out, changes in the way bridges are maintained will come forcing the state agencies to veer away from the ideal bridge- a 100 year old bridge that requires no maintenance- and embrace in bridge maintenance which may be expensive in the short term but cost effective in the long term. This applies to historic bridges, many of which are still in good shape and can last another 100 years if cared for properly.

While the Fort Steuben Bridge may be gone, its legacy will continue as the strive to save what is left of American History will continue with a goal of jumping ahead of progress and bringing it to a halt. This is the only way to force state agencies to look at alternatives to demolition and encourage people to learn about historic bridges and their ties to the development of the US regarding its industrialization, societal issues and the cultural perspective. While it may be interesting to read about them in books, as it will have to be the case with the Fort Steuben Bridge being gone, it is even more interesting to visit and cross the bridges, like the ones at Steubenville and Newell to learn more about the history from a close-up view. It is much better than having to collect pieces of history from a bridge that was demolished to keep in the bridge collection. That is what I’m doing with mine as it is sitting on my desk waiting to be reused for my next class.

Photos of the Ft. Steuben Bridge can be seen here.

News Flyer: 

1. Another preservationist and columnist, Kaitlin O’shea of Preservation in Pink (based in Vermont), recently wrote a column on how to photograph a historic bridge. This is a small guide for people interested in visiting and photographing these pieces of artwork that are dwindling in numbers. To access the article, please click on this link below:

http://preservationinpink.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/how-to-photograph-a-bridge/

Sabo Bridge at night. Photo taken in August 2010

2. Cable-stayed bridges are becoming more and more scrutinized because of supporting cables that are either wearing out more quickly than expected or in one case some that have snapped. The New Steubenville Bridge recently received bad reviews based on an inspection conducted by the two aforementioned DOTs, while a near disaster was averted on the Martin Olav Sabo Pedestrian Bridge south of Minneapolis, as two pairs of cables snapped, causing the Hiawatha rail line to suspend service and Hiawatha Avenue, a main artery connecting the largest city in Minnesota and Bloomington to be restricted. Reinforcements are being added to the bridge and an inspection is being conducted to determine the cause of the damage.

Link: http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/140084813.html

and http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/02/22/sabo-bridge-repair/

Bridgeport Bridge (Finally) Came Down

Photo taken in August 2010

Bridgehunter’s Chronicles News Flyer:

14 September, 2011  Bridgeport, Ohio-  After three years of attempts to bring the bridge down and over 22 years of sitting idle and neglect, the three-span Parker through truss bridge spanning the Ohio River came down yesterday. Crews planted explosives in the substructure to implode the bridge and bring it into the river. Built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in Canton, the bridge used to connect Bridgeport and Wheeling, WV before it was replaced in 1998 with a concrete structure, which carries US Highways 40 and 250 today.  The Bridgeport Bridge had received national recognition for its unique design and was even eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, pleas by preservationists, pontists and locals to convert the bridge into a pedestrian crossing fell on deaf ears and ultimately led to the bridge to sit abandoned for over 13 years, allowing the structure to deteriorate to a point where extensive rehabilitation was no longer considered an option due to exorbitant costs and safety and liability concerns. Already during the visit as part of the 2nd annual Historic Bridge Conference last year, the roadway was taken out  revealing much of the bridge parts, which had corroded away to a point where it had landed into the river. This prompted the US Coast Guard to issue an ultimatum to have the bridge removed or face fines and other sanctions, which the department of transportation of both Ohio and West Virginia heeded to. While parts of the bridge, including the finials will be salvaged to be given to the historical society and other interested groups for display purposes, the bridge will be cut into pieces and sold for scrap metal.

For more information on the bridge, please refer to the following links provided by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and Historic Bridges.org:

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2011/06/03/bridgeport-bridge-finally-comes-down/

http://www.historicbridges.org/ohio/us40/

 More on the bridge demolition can be found here:

http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/559278/Long-Standing-Bridgeport-Bridge-Razed-Today.html?nav=515

 

http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/saying-goodbye-to-the-old-bridge-at-bridgeport/