2017 Ammann Award Results: Part 1

Rock Island Rail-to-Trail Bridge in Little Rock, AR at night. Photo taken by Chauncy Neuman, winner of this year’s Best Photo Award

New Olympic-Style Medal System to the Top Six Finishers

Record Number of Voter Participation

SCHNEEBERG (SAXONY), GERMANY- 2018 is here, and with it, the revealing of the winners of the 2017 Othmar H. Ammann Awards. This year’s awards ceremony is far different than in years’ past. For instance, instead of announcing the winners in nummerical order from top to bottom, the top six winners receive a medal in a combination of Olympics and Ore Mountain form. That means the top three finishers receive the typical Olympic medals, whereas 4th to 6th place finishers receive medals typical of the Ore Mountain region in Saxony in eastern Germany, the new home for this column (specifically, in Schneeberg). That means tourquoise, copper and iron ore to those respective finishers. To view the total number of candidates please click here for details, including how they finished.

This year’s awards set some impressive records that can only be bested by more participation and more awareness of the historic bridges that we have left in general. For instance, we had records smashed for the highest number of voter turnout in each of the nine categories. Furthermore, there were at least seven lead changes in each category, which was also a first. In four of the categories, there were lead changes with at least four of the candidates. In another category, each of the candidates took a shot at first place and stayed at the top for at least a week before it was dethroned in favor of another one. In summary, no leader was safe regardless of margin that was built with its second place competitor. 🙂

And with that we will take a look at the winners of the 2017 Ammann Awards, divided up into two parts so that the readers are not overwhelmed with the content. The winners of the 2017 Author’s Choice, where the author himself picks his favorites, will follow. But for now, let’s see what the voters have chosen for bridge favorites beginning with…..

 

BEST PHOTO:

This year’s Best Photo Category brought in not only double the number of candidates as last year (12 entries) but also double as many candidates that vied for first place as last year- there was a battle among three candidates for the top spot for the 2016 Awards. All six candidates finished in the top six with Chauncy Neumann bringing home the gold for his night photo of the Rock Island Railroad Bridge in Little Rock, AR., a fine example of a rail-to-trail crossing that still has its use in its second life today. His photo can be seen in the Chronicles’ facebook page as well as an avatar for the Chronicles’ twitter page. The silver medal went to Esko Räntilla for his stone arch bridge, built in the 1700s spanning a small creek in Finnland. That photo can be seen in the Chronicles’ wordpress page. Third place finisher receiving the bronze was Kevin Skow for his shot of the pony truss bridge Mill Creek in Kansas. His photo can be seen on the Chronicles’ twitter page. All of them will remain to be seen until mid-July before they become part of the header rotating page for the Chronicles’ wordpress page. The rest of the results:

Draschwitz Bridge north of Zeitz in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt: Winner of the Best Kept Secret International Award

BEST KEPT SECRET INDIVIDUAL BRIDGE:

This category is divided up into American and International Bridges and focuses on historic and unique bridges that receive little to no attention compared to other historic bridges, like the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges in the States. In the international part of the category, we had 14 entries from three continents with four vying for the top spot. In the end, the winner of award goes to a small village north of Zeitz in Germany and this unusual bridge, the Draschwitz Truss Bridge over the White Elster River. This bridge is unique because of its v-laced top chord. The story behind it can be found here. Silver goes to the suspension bridge at Betsiboka in Madagascar, whereas Bronze goes to another unique arch bridge in Greece nominated by Inge Kanakaris-Wirtl, the Plakidas Bridge. The rest of the top six include:

Sarto Bridge in Louisiana. Photo taken by Cliff Darby

In the States, we had ten entries, featuring bridges from all over the country. This included a “dead bridge”- one that has been extant for many years, yet one decided to nominate it post humously. As in the international portion, four of the ten vied for the top spot, but in the end, the Sarto Bridge, spanning the Bayou des Glaises at Big BendAvoyelles Parish, Louisiana came out the winner by a slim margin, outlasting the Johnson Bridge in Stillwater County (Montana) by five votes. That “dead bridge” mentioned earlier, was Sugar Island Bridge in Kankakee Illinois, came in third with 88 votes- a bronze medal well earned a century after it was converted into a pile of scrap metal. The bridge was destroyed by a tornado in 1916 and was replaced afterwards.  The rest of the top six include:

Geneva Creek Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa. Winner of the Mystery Bridge Award. Photo taken by Luke Harden

 

MYSTERY BRIDGE:

Twelve bridges were entered in this category, of which three came from the States and the rest from Germany. Still, the winners of both the international and American competition were clearly decisive with the American bridge winning the all around by a wide margin. That was with the Geneva Creek Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa, a Bedstead Howe pony truss that features two spans and was relocated at an unknown time. Information on that is enclosed here. The ancient arch bridge in Erfurt won the international division but came in second in the all around. That bridge spans a small waterfall that empties into the Diversion Channel on the south end of the city in Thuringia. It may be the oldest extant structure in the city’s history. For more, click here. Not far behind was another competitor from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, a thatched-roof covered truss bridge in St. Peter-Ording, whose unique story can be found here. The rest of the standings include:

The rest of the winners can be found in Part 2. Click here to get there. 🙂

Ancient Arch Bridge at Pförtchen Bridge in Erfurt. Winner of the Ammann Awards for Mystery Bridge International

 

 

 

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The Bridges of Zeitz, Germany

Haynsburg Bridge. Photos taken in March 2015
Haynsburg Bridge. Photos taken in March 2015

Located along the River White Elster in eastern Saxony-Anhalt, the city of Zeitz, with ist population of 29,000 inhabitants, represents one oft he dying cities in the former East Germany. High unemployment, empty buildings, abandoned industries and a crumbling infrastructure, combined with historic buildings dating back to the 1800s that are sitting empty are what a person can see when passing through the city. Most of its main traffic has been diverted away from the city, and the only rail service in Zeitz are the lines connecting the city with Weissenfels, Gera and Leipzig- all privately owned and localized.

Yet the city scape of Zeitz has, for the most part been in tact, thus making it the venue for many films produced that require an East German scene or story. Despite their emptiness, many historic buildings in the city center are worth visiting and perhaps occupying with businesses and housing. Even the Moritzburg Castle and the nearby mills and churches, built during the Baroque period, still entertain guests because of their charm. You can also try the local wine from the vineyards located along the rugged Elster Bike Trail.

And then, there are the historic bridges.

At least a dozen bridges exist along the White Elster within a 10 km radius of the city, six of which can be found directly in Zeitz. Two thirds of them are at least 70 years of age or older. Yet all but two of them have been mentioned in the history books or by the International Structure Database in Berlin (structurae.net) which is part of the Wiley and Sons Publishing Conglomerate. While much of the records have disappeared because of World War II and later the Socialist regime, the structures profiled here are unique in its design and historic value. Most of the bridges are arches, but there are a couple girders and trusses that are worth mentioning as well. Each one lacks the most basic in terms of the date of the builders, their dimensions and for the most part, the stories behind them and their affiliation with the communities and castles they serve. Henceforth, this tour will profile each of the bridges in and around the Zeitz area, starting with the bridges near Crossen to the south and ending at Elsterau to the north. All but three of the bridges profiled in this tour guide are along the Elster. One of the bridges, the Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge, has already been profiled separately in a Mystery Bridge article and will therefore be omitted from this article. A link to this bridge can be found here.

We’ll start off with the first of two bridges in the village of Crossen, both of which can be reached by bike:

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Rauda Bridge at Crossen:

This bridge spans Rauda Creek, approximately a half kilometer south of the White Elster crossing. The bridge is approximately 15 meters long and six meters wide, good enough for a bike trail. The bridge is a stone arch design that probably dates back to the 1800s, when it was used for horse and buggy, serving a trail between Crossen and Silbitz. Later it was used for farm vehicles, but as the fields nearby are located in the flood plain of the Elste were therefore rendered useless, the trail was eventually converted into the bike trail connecting Crossen and Gera to the south. The bridge still remains in great condition despite its age and is a great place to stop for a picnic or even good photo opportunity, as seen with this photo.

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Crossen Bridge:

Spanning the Elster River, the Crossen Bridge features a deck arch bridge made of brick and concrete, and features seven arch spans totalling 130 meters long. The longest arch span (the center span) is approximately 30 meters long. The bridge’s spandrel is all made of concrete, whereby the arches were built of brick. While the bridge has been renovated as recently as 10 years ago, the date of the original construction of the bridge goes back to between 1900 and 1920. Records indicated that an attempt to implode the structure by the Nazis in 1945 in an attempt to stop the march of the Soviet troops only for the local residents to splice the wiring to the bombs in order to sabotage their attempts. The Nazis surrendered on 7 May, 1945 but not before their leader Adolf Hitler and many of his close friends committed suicide in order to avoid prosecution by the Allies. The bridge continued to be in service until recent renovations where sidewalks were added and the roadway was narrowed. Today, the bridge provides only one-way traffic controlled by traffic lights on each end. Yet it has no load limits, thus allowing for all kinds of traffic to cross, as seen in the photos below:

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Haynsburg Bridge:

Spanning the White Elster on the  road going to Haynsburg Castle to the east, this bridge features five arch spans totalling approximately 200 meters, the longest center arch span is around 50 meters. That span is flanked with two door-like openings on each corner, embedded into the piers, resembling an embedded pavillion on each corner. It is unknown what the original atructure looked like before World War II, but the date of construction goes back to 1911, according to local records. The bridge is one of three works of art one should see while in Haynsburg. The castle is three kilometers up the hill from the bridge. A train station along the rail line between Leipzig and Gera has a decorative lounge, even though trains no longer stop there. Haynsburg itself was a target of a witch hunt, for in 1624, one of the residents was burned at the stake for witchcraft.  Since 2010, Haynsburg is part of a local conglomerate that includes two other villages. The town is only a handful that has witnessed steady population growth for it has 580 inhabitants. The bridge itself will be rehabilitated come 2018 with the purpse of improving its load capacity and its aesthetic value.

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Bahnhofsbrücke:

Spanning the White Elster River, this pedestrian bridge connects the train station with the park complex along the river next to the city center in Zeitz. While travelling along the river along the Elster Bike Trail, this bridge is one of the two most visible structures near the vicinity of the train station. The bridge has a bedstead Pratt pony truss with welded connections. Judging by its aesthetic appearance, the structure appears to be at least 10 years old but no older than 20. It is unknown whether a previous structure had occurred there but because of the prescence of the pavillion across the river from the station, it may be possible that a structure had existed beforehand, but was either destroyed during World War II and was not rebuilt before 1990 or it fell into disarray during the socialist regime and was consequentially removed. But more information is needed to determine whether a previous structure existed prior to this one.

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Untere Promenade Bridge:

Located over the Mühlgraben Creek at the confluence with the White Elster, this bridge is located right next to the aforementioned  Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge. The bridge serves the Elster Bike Trail but it is unknown when the bridge was built. It would be unusual to have a bridge exist alongside the pavillion bridge for a long period of time, so one must assume the bridge was built after World War II, especially because of the ballustrades that were remodelled. Yet more information is needed to determine whether the bridge was built in modern times to replace the pavillion bridge or if it was built at about the same time, especially as arch bridges were very common up until 1915. The author’s prediction is that the bridge was built to mimick the pavillion bridge in the 1950s or 60s to accomodate a trail running alongside the river. In either case, both bridges retain a high degree of historic and aesthetical value that it is worth stopping to photograph.

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Geschwister Scholl Brücke

This is perhaps the most ornamental of the bridges along the White Elster River between Gera and Leipzig, for the 250 meter long seven-span concrete arch bridge provides the best access from the train station to Moritzburg Castle by car. The bridge has stone keystones and seal engravings above the piers. Its ballustrades are similar to the Untere Promenade Bridge and were redone most recently (10-15 years ago). Finials can be found on both ends of the bridge, but more unique and unusual is the lighting on the bridge- only one pair of lanterns are located at the very center of the span, but built on cast iron poles with a unique ornamental design.

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Judging by the age of the bridge, it appears to have been built between 1890 and 1915, yet when looking more closely at the structure ‘s center span in comparison with the outer ones, the bridge appeared to have been rebuilt after the war, as the Nazis blew up the center span in an attempt to slow the advancement of Soviet troops. The bridge and street itself were named in honor of Sophie and Frank Scholl, siblings who led the White Rose movement, a group whose purpose was to create an uprising against the Hitler regime. They were arrested and executed in 1944, along with dozens of other members of the movement. Yet the Nazi government ceased to exist with Germany’s surrender on 7 May, 1945. Hitler committed suicide a week prior to the fall.

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Tiergarten Pedestrian Bridge

Spanning the White Elster east of town, the Tiergarten Pedestrian Bridge is one of the most unique of spans, as the bridge features two Howe spans meeting in the middle. The center of each Howe span is supported by one steel pier but the outer ends are anchored by concrete piers. The truss itself has bedstead end posts and features welded connections. Lighting  illuminates the bridge. The bridge appears to be one of the younger spans, being built in the 1990s, but it is located near a small park on the north end of the river. It also serves as the division point for two sections of the trail. The older section of the Elster Bike Trail crosses this bridge before turning left and heading to Tröglitz. A newer portion of the trail does not cross the bridge but continues north past the park towards Massnitz and Zangenberg, tunneling through the forest along the way. Both paths have historic bridges along the way to photograph.

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Rehmsdorf Railroad Bridges

Located over the White Elster at the railroad crossing just outside the village of Tröglitz (1 km east of Zeitz), the Rehmsdorf Railroad Bridge features two different bridges. The river crossing, which one can see at the railroad crossing, consists of two Warren pony truss spans with vertical beams and riveted connections. Just 100 meters from that bridge is a deck plate girder bridge with eight spans, spanning a stream that empties into the White Elster. Both bridges, dating back to the 1920s, can be seen from the road connecting Tröglitz to the east and Zeitz to the west, and as the older stretch of the Elster Bike Trail runs parallel to the road, bikers and photographers have the best view of the two bridges with the camera. The bridges once served a rail line connecting Zeitz with Meuselwitz via Tröglitz and Rehmsdorf. Unfortunately, flooding caused the collapse of three of the plate girder spans resulting in the closure of the bridge and the rail line. Most likely the collapse happened during the most recent flooding in 2013. It is unknown whether that bridge will be replaced and the line reopened. But given the availability of bus service in the area, chances of anything happening with the line are slim.

Deck plate girder spans
Deck plate girder spans
Close-up of the collapsed spans.
Close-up of the collapsed spans.

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Börnitz/ Massnitz Railroad Bridge:

Leaving the Zeitz area and heading north along the White Elster, we have this bridge, located only four kilometers from the one at Tröglitz. Even stranger is the fact that even though it is located near Massnitz and Börnitz, it also served the line that ran in a loop fashion going north from Zeitz, then looping onto this bridge before heading south to join the line that eventually terminates at Meuselwitz. This leads to the question of whether this bridge was the original crossing serving the line between Zeitz and Meuselwitz before it was eventually realigned to go past Tröglitz and replaced by the aforementioned bridge. If that is the case, then when did the replacement take place? The author’s hunch: as this bridge features two concrete arch spans over the river, supported by 10 (approach) spans of steel deck plate girders (summing up the length to about 1 kilometer), and the piers of the approach spans look much newer than the arch spans (which most likely dates back to a time up to 1890), the structure was originally an arch span (probably 10-12 spans counting the two spans over the river). All but the two river spans were blown up (most likely by the Nazis in 1945), and while Soviet troops tried to rebuild this bridge, a temporary bridge at Tröglitz (the one mentioned earlier) was built, which later because its permanent replacement. While more evidence is needed to support this argument, Adolf Hitler’s plan of destroying everything in the path of the Allied troops, known as operation Nero, is known throughout the circle of German historians. Nero was enacted at the dismay of even his closest allies, shortly before his suicide in 1945, but failed when even the locals realized that the war was all lost and sabotaged the attempts of the Nazi soldiers to blow up the bridges. 80% of Germany’s remaining bridges were destroyed as part of the plan, only 10% of them could ever be restored. It is uncertain whether this bridge was one of the 80%, but it would not have been surprising if evidence points to that. In either case, the bridge is accessible via street and bike route connecting Tröglitz and Massnitz on the east side of the river as well as the new Elster Trail between Börnitz and Zeitz.

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Close-up of the arch spans. How old do you think they are?
The arch spans behind the trees. Photo taken from the newer stretch of the Elster Bike Trail
The arch spans behind the trees. Photo taken from the newer stretch of the Elster Bike Trail

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Göbitz Mühlgraben Bridge:

Located over Mühlgraben Creek just 500 meters from its confluence with the White Elster, this bridge appears to be one of the oldest remaining structures in the Zeitz region. The 25 meter long structure features a trapezoidal style concrete arch bridge, which is typical of bridges built in the 1800s. The bridge may have been built to serve horse and buggy traffic between Börnitz and Göbitz until newer highways diverted it away from this crossing. Although it still serves pedestrian, cyclar and farming traffic today, spalling cracks in the spandrels and the wingwalls show that some structural rehabilitation is needed in order for it to accomodate traffic in the future. Whether or not it will happen remains to be seen.

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Elsterau Pedestrian Bridge:

The last bridge profiled on the tour is this crossing. Spanning the White Elster River, this wooden pony arch span serves not only the Elster Bike Trail but also the trails connecting Börnitz and Göbnitz. The bridge was most likely built between 2008 and 2012 for it appears new to the eyes of the tourists. In either case, the bridge serves as a new addition to the village of Börnitz, which is a quiet community with just a handful of shops.

A map of the bridges can be found via Google Map, by clicking here:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zE70H-hBCaFg.kBi4SDJUWfjk

To summarize this tour, the bridges in and around Zeitz, most of which are located along the White Elster, represent the charm and historic value that best fits the landscape of the area. These structures have a history of their own, many of which are worth researching, for the information on them are scarce. But as you bike along the Elster Bike Trail, you will find that these structures are worth biking for, even if the trail can be rugged at times. Yet these bridges are only a handful of the structures one should see in neighboring Leipzig (to the north) as well as Gera (to the south). Henceforth, never skip a stop for each one is full of surprises that are worth spending a few minutes of your time for. Zeitz is one of those forgotten examples that should not be forgotten.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 28: Unusual Swing Bridge in Virginia

Photo submitted by Nathan Holth. Source: History of Nansemond County

Swing bridges have become a rare commodity on our roads today. Built using a center pier designed to turn the span at a 90° angle, most of them were built using mostly Howe, Lattice, Baltimore or even Warren trusses. There are many examples of such bridges that used to exist but have long become a distant memory, like the Hojack Swing Bridge in Rochester, New York, The Willis Avenue Bridge in New York City, The Inver Grove Heights Swing Bridge south of Bloomington and the Burlington Railroad Bridge. The engineers who built these bridges during the heyday of industrialization (1870- 1920) went out of their way to make the swing bridges not only functional for horse and buggy to use and to allow ships to pass, but also appealing to tourists and later historians and preservationists.

This bridge in the city-state of Suffolk, Virginia is another example of an appealing swing bridge that has long since been demolished. Judging by the picture submitted by Nathan Holth, this bridge appears to have been built of iron and has one of two designs: 1. A pair of kingpost truss spans supported by a central panel consisting of two pairs of vertical towers with light weight diagonal beams holding the trusses made of heavier iron together or 2. a Camelback truss bridge whose center panel is thinner and lighter than the two outer panels. In either case, the bridge was a hand-powered swing bridge, used to allow boats to pass. It is similar to another photo that was submitted by the same person but located at Reed’s Ferry in Virginia.

Photo submitted by Nathan Holth

The problem with both bridges is threefold. First of all, while the designs are similar to each other, it is unknown who designed and built the bridges, let alone when they were constructed, except to say that for the last question, it appears that the period between 1875 and 1895 would best fit for iron was used often for bridge construction before it was supplanted by steel after 1890.

Also unknown is the location of the swing bridge, for in the top picture, it was claimed that it was located in Everet’s, whereas in the bottom photo, it was located at Reed’s Ferry. It should be confirmed that Everet’s was located in Nansemond County, which was subsequentially absorbed into the city-state of Suffolk in 1974. While Suffolk has a total population of 1.7 million inhabitants as of present (including 87,000 in the city itself), its land size is the largest in the United States and is larger than the German states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, as well as the Vatican City and Monaco combined! Given the village’s absorption, it is unknown whereabouts it was located when it existed prior to the 1970s.

Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that many streams in the city-state were dammed and henceforth, lakes were created as a result. While the Nansemond River flows through Suffolk, as many as five lakes and reservoirs were created, which meant that bridges like this one were either removed before the projects commenced, or were inundated and the bridge parts have long since rusted away. In either case, there are many questions that need to be resolved for this unique bridge, namely:

1. When did Everet’s and Reed’s Ferry exist?

2. When were the bridges in their respective communities were built and who built them?  When were they removed?

3. When was the Nansemond River dammed and the lakes created?

All information on the two bridges should be directed in the Comments section of James Baughn’s Bridgehunter.com website by clicking on the name Everet’s Bridge. You can also add any information on Reed’s Ferry Bridge in the Comment section if you have any that will be helpful.

 

Fast Fact:

The Nansemond County portion of the city-state of Suffolk has a unique history of its own, as it was named after Nansemond, a native American tribe who lived along the river at the time of the arrival of the English colonists in Jamestown in 1607. Under the name of New Norfolk County, it became one of the oldest counties in the US, having been established in 1636. After being divided into Upper and Lower Norfolk in 1637, the Upper portion became Nansemond County in 1646 with the county seat later being Suffolk (it was established in 1742 and was a county seat eight years later). It remained a county seat until Suffolk and Nansemond became a city-states in 1972. Interesting note was the fact that Suffolk had been an independent city from 1910 up to then. Subsequentially Nansemond became part of the city-state Suffolk two years later. A city-state in this case means that even though it is part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is an independent city, having its own government and laws as well as responsibilities for its infrastructure, education system, and the like. Virginia still supports Suffolk with funding, but has little influence on the activities of the city-state, making it similar to the aforementioned city-states, as well as the Spanish state of Catalonia, which is much larger than Suffolk.

 

 

Newsflyer 24 June, 2013

Saale-Elster Viaduct in Halle (Saale) during its construction. Photo taken in June 2011

 

Longest railroad viaduct in Germany completed; German Autobahn viaduct demolished; I-5 Bridge in Washington state reopened; conception of a truss bridge in Virginia;

A lot of activities went on this weekend involving several bridges in the US and Europe, but the biggest ones happened to occur in Germany, for while several historic bridges have fallen to progress, one made history even though it is not open to traffic just yet. Here are the headlines you need to know.

Saale-Elster Viaduct under construction. Photo taken in June 2011

Saale-Elster Viaduct near Halle (Saale) completed. To be used for rail traffic in 2016.

6.5 kilometers long- equivalent to over four miles.  20-30 meters tall, tall enough to ride over the waters of the Saale and White Elster Rivers even if the fields and roads are underwater. All concrete except for the steel through arch span spanning a 2.1 kilometer approach viaduct connecting Halle (Saale) and the main railline. Those are the features of the new Saale-Elster Viaduct, which was completed this past Saturday at a cost of over 800 million Euros, mostly financed by the federal government and the Die Bahn (German Railways). It is part of the multi-billion Euro project that has been ongoing since 1992 and features not only this bridge, but hundreds of other bridges and tunnels as the new ICE-train route will connect Leipzig and Halle with Nuremberg via Erfurt. When the bridge is open to traffic at the beginning of 2016, all trips between Berlin and Munich as well as Frankfurt (Main) and Dresden will be cut in half as the ICE trains are expected to travel up to 350 kmph (180 mph) to their destinations. The viaduct can be seen along the InterCity railline connecting Halle (Saale) and Jena just after crossing the historic Skopau Bridge spanning the Saale River south of the southernmost city in Saxony-Anhalt. This bridge is not only the longest railroad viaduct in Germany- even surpassing another ICE-Viaduct the Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse, which still holds the title as the second tallest in Germany. The bridge is the longest vehicular viaduct in Germany, surpassing the Motorway A6 viaduct near Neckarsulm in Baden- Wurttemberg.

 

The Skopau Railroad Bridge serving the IC Jena-Halle line and the Saale River bike trail. From here you can see the newly completed longest viaduct in Germany. Photo taken in June 2011
The Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse spanning the Rombach and the Eisenach- Kassel railline carrying the Frankfurt-Hamburg ICE line between Fulda and Kassel. Photo taken in May 2010

 

Autobahn Motorway viaduct near Fulda demolished.

Heading 230 kilometers to the southwest to northwestern Bavaria, another viaduct made the headlines but in a different way. Located in Bad Bruckenau in the district of Bad Kissingen, east of Frankfurt (Main), the Sinnetal Viaduct made headlines for the 46 year-old viaduct made of steel and concrete was imploded on Saturday. As many as 8,000 spectators watched in awe as explosives installed in the concrete columns were detonated, and the entire structure fell 100 meters to the ground in four seconds. Built in 1967 to serve the longest and most heavily traveled Autobahn A7 connecting Flensburg and Austria, the 800 meter long bridge became the poster boy of how concrete bridges were treated, with salt and other substances that penetrated the concrete and steel causing rust and erosion, and with heavily travelled vehicles, some of which went over the weight and height limit. Already in 2009, construction had started on its replacement and was completed and opened to traffic at the beginning of this year. The demolition of the old bridge (shown here in this article) should serve as a reminder to state and federal agencies that even modern bridges require maintenance in order for them to last longer than 50 years. There’s no such thing as a bridge requiring no maintenance and lasting 100 years and the Sinnetal Bridge should serve as an example for agencies to rethink the way bridges are being handled by traffic.

The Magodee Bridge (old) being lifted by crane. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

Truss bridge replaced with another truss bridge. Old bridge to be reused.

Sometimes it is not necessary to replace truss bridges with concrete bridges, but with another truss bridge. Such trends have been reported in states, like Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia, for they are conventional and the aesthetics match the scenery than a white bland bridge. But for this bridge, the Magodee Bridge in Franklin County, Virginia, it may set a new trend for other historic bridges receiving new life. The 1929 Warren pony truss was replaced recently with- another Warren pony truss! The length is almost identical and both have riveted connections! The difference? The new pony truss bridge is now used for vehicular traffic, while the old pony truss span, now located behind the old mill, as seen in the pics courtesy of Donald Sowers, will receive new life as a pedestrian bridge located only a few hundred meters from the existing structure! Wouldn’t you like to have an old bridge and a new nearly identical span located not far from each other being used as a tourist trap? For the owner of the mill and the old bridge, the dream will become a reality. For more information on how to make the reality come true, please contact Mr. Sowers at this e-mail address: desowers@centurylink.net.

The new Magodee Bridge with the old span behind the mill. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

I-5 Washington Bridge reopens but on restrictions

Nearly a month after the spectactular collapse of the Skagit River Interstate 5 Bridge in Washington state, the collapsed portion of the bridge was rebuilt, using Bailey trusses, and the bridge was reopened to traffic on Friday. But there are several exceptions: No oversized trucks and vehicles requiring special permits will be allowed to use the bridge and will be forced to take the detours that have been used since the collapse. The speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph instead of 60 as enforced before the accident. And the spans are only temporary as the state and federal governments are planning a more permanent crossing, although it is unclear whether the temporary span will be rebuilt as a permanent span or if the entire bridge itself, built in 1956 featuring a Warren through truss design, will be demolished in favor of a newer and even wider bridge. The Chronicles will keep you up to date on the developments regarding the bridge.

29 new bridges in 19 kilometers along the German Autobahn 9!

Built in 1936, the German Autobahn Motorway 9, connecting Berlin and Munich is known as the oldest freeway in Germany, and one of the oldest freeways in the world with many historic markers, including the oldest motorway inn Rodatal in Thuringia, the Vockeroda Bridge and neon marker in Saxony-Anhalt, the Hirschberg Restaurant, one of only two located over the motorway in Germany, and the Bridge of German Unity located at the Bavaria-Thuringia border which also served as the border crossing between East and West Germany. Since 1990 the 530 kilometer (330 mile) route was expanded from four lanes with no emergency lanes to six lanes with emergency lanes to provide safety and efficiency along the highway. This includes the replacement of bridges and overpasses dating as far back as 1936. At the present time, construction is commencing on the last bottleneck between Triptis in Thuringia and the Bavarian border- a span of 20 kilometers. With that, the last of the 1936 bridges and overpassees are coming down for they no longer are able to accomodate the increase in traffic. This includes 18 overpasses and the expansion of the border bridge, built in 1966 replacing the 1936 structure that was destroyed in World War II. Overall, there will be 29 new bridges with modern but attractive appearances when the project is finished in 2014. This includes the railroad bridge connecting the rail line between Schleiz and Ziegenrück on the Saale River. Out of service since 1990, there is hope that funding is available to build a new bridge and connect the two villages by train. At the moment, a dandyhorse rail service is being used by tourists, but once the railroad overpass is completed and the line reopened, the area will become a magnet for tourists again.

Newsflyer 24 April 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Newsflyer:  24 April, 2013

Historic International Crossing spared Terrorist Attack, Two Historic Bridges lost to Flooding, One Bridge with connection to Internationally Renowned Bridge Coming Down

There has been a lot of action that took place in the US this past week, which included an unprecedented series of explosions- two at the Boston Marathon and an atomic-size explosion that nearly destroyed a Texas town- combined with the pursuit of the terrorists and those neglecting the safety guidelines of the fertilizer plant, and lots of rage by Mother Nature, implementing her wrath on the Midwest with snow and flooding.

And with that comes the demise of more historic bridges, but one was spared another potential terroristic plot to blow it up. How bad was this? The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a list of news headlines that have been compiled under its latest Newsflyer.

Bridge at Niagra Falls saved from bombing attempt

The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is a very important historic bridge in the Niagra Region for two reasons: 1. The 1897 steel deck arch bridge, measured at 329 meters long, and featuring a upper deck for rail traffic and lower deck for vehicular traffic is an important link between the US and Canada, serving rail traffic between New York and Montreal and Toronto. 2. It is one of two important historic bridges to see near Niagra Falls, as it is located 2.4 km from the Falls, where another arch bridge is located. It was refurbished in 2009-10 and is now owned by Amtrak which maintains the track and allows Canadian trains to cross.  This bridge was a target of a terrorist attack that was foiled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Monday, arresting two people who had connections with Al Qaida in Iran- one of which was of Tunisian origins. Both were Canadians.  It is unknown how the planning was foiled for there was little information prior to the event, but had the attack succeeded, it would have resulted in massive loss of life among people in the train that they would have bombed in the process, car drivers and a historical landmark being destroyed, severing an important link between the two countries. The two men are currently in jail awaiting their fate. A close call for both countries, especially the USA, which was digesting its first terrorist attack since 9/11.

Two important Illinois historic bridges lost to flooding.

“No way!” This was the reaction of the amateur videographer who filmed the demise of the wrought iron Pratt through truss bridge spanning Big Bureau Creek east of Tiskilwa in Bureau County on 18 April. Built in the 1880s by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, the bridge had been abandoned for many years and like its cousin, the Maple Rapids Bridge in Michigan, it was also leaning to one side after sustaining previous flood damage. This most recent flood did the structure in. Half of the bridge is still in the water but the structure, which resembles the Jacobs Tavern Bridge in New Jersey, will most likely come out to be scrapped, as with another bridge.

Located over Wilburn Creek in Marshall County, this 1924 riveted Pratt pony truss bridge was in excellent shape with minor restrictions until flooding undermined the abutments and knocked the bridge over on its side. Despite the bridge being in good shape inspite of the fall, the county engineer has written it off and it will be replaced. The fate of the trusses hangs in the balance, but they do have a potential of being reused at a park if rehabilitated with welding technology…

Part of the Golden Gate Bridge gone!

The Doyle Drive Viaduct, located near the Presidio south of the Golden Gate Bridge is technically part of the grand lady. Built in 1936, the bridge features a rusty orange color, similar to the almost 76-year old suspension bridge. With the demolition of the bridge, it marks the loss of a piece of history. Currently this bridge is being replaced with a concrete viaduct as part of the plan to reconstruct the interchange with the road leading to the historic police station. This is part of a larger plan to modernize the Golden Gate area, which includes replacing toll takers of the grand lady with automatic electronic toll machines. This has taken place already. It makes people of San Francisco and other people who know about the bridge and its heritage wonder what will be done with the Golden Gate area next….

Yet there is a sign of life for one historic bridge with a pair of bonuses that are on the way. This time it involves the McIntyre Bridge in Iowa.

Bowers has it her way and possibly then some

After suffering numerous set backs this year, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived for Julie Bowers and the crew at Workin Bridges, as  Poweshiek County signed off on a grant for $184,000 provided by the Iowa DOT on April 19th to be used to rebuild the McIntyre Bowstring Arch Bridge. The 1883 structure spanned North Skunk River until it was washed away by floods in 2010. Since then, painstaking efforts to raise money to restore the bridge were undertaken until the offer by the state agency, located in Ames, was brought to the table. Poweshiek County agreed to the proposal under the condition that Workin Bridges maintains the bridge over the next 20 years. If all is approved and the restoration efforts start in the summer, the bridge could be back over the river and in service again by the fall of this year.

In addition, a couple pony truss bridges from Carroll County may be heading to Poweshiek County to be reused for recreational reasons. When and where they will be relocated remains open, but the county is planning on replacing them this summer. More information from the Chronicles to come soon.

Mystery Bridges 9 and 10: The bridges of Oregon

The state of Oregon has a lot to offer: Lots of hills and mountains covered with luscious green pine trees and other forms of flora, all lined up along the Snake, Wilamette and Columbia Rivers and its numerous tributaries. And of course, with as many historic bridges as the states of Indiana, Ohio and Iowa. The state has a wide variety of historic bridges to choose from, regardless of bridge type, builder, age and especially, history. This includes the likes of the St. John’s Bridge in Portland, built in 1931 and spans the Wilamette River. Portland, the state’s largest city, has as many historic bridges as the number of bridges total in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul).   There are the bridges that carry the famous coastal highway US 101, such as the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River in Astoria and the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.
It is also not a surprise that with as many bridges (both built prior to and after 1945) as the state has, that one needs to document them to find out more about their historic backgrounds and determine their significance to the state’s history. The Oregon Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted their bridge inventory and research in the 1980s and has started renewing its bridge inventory  recently, finding some historic bridges that have some holes to fill in their historic background. This is where Rebecca Burrows of Oregon DOT needs your help. There are two bridges that she brought up to my attention while I was away on vacation. Both of them have records claiming that they were built in the 1950s, yet judging by their aesthetic appearance, they were most likely relocated to their present spots. A summary of both are presented below, each accompanied with photos taken by Michael Goff, also from Oregon DOT.
Bridge 9:
Name: Deer Creek Bridge
Location: Deer Creek carrying Oregon Hwy. 82 in Wallowa County
Bridge type: Polygonal Warren pony truss with riveted connections but alternating vertical beams resembling a panel with an A-frame
Built (or relocated): 1964
Length: 112 feet
Info:

One can discuss about this bridge as if determining whether the glass is half full or half empty. On the one hand, it is possible that truss bridges like this one were built during this time as steel was still plentiful and counties found ways to construct bridges that were affordable and appealing to the scenery surrounding it. Some examples of such bridges include:  a pair of bridges over the Arkansas River in Chaffee County, Colorado, built in the early 1990s. However it is possible that the bridge was relocated to this site from another part of the state because such truss designs were becoming rare, and most standardized bridge designs built after 1930 required vertical beams. Recent findings (including a plaque of the people involved in the construction of the bridge appear that the bridge was built between 1905 and 1925.  In either case, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its design. However, more information on the bridge’s history- in particular determining whether the bridge was relocated here or not- is needed in ensure that the truss bridge is not converted into a pile of scrap metal, as the bridge is up for replacement at the time of this posting.

Photos:

Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission
Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission

Bridge 10:
Name: Cobleigh Road Bridge
Location: Big Butte Creek carrying Cobleigh Road near Eagle Point in Jackson County
Bridge type: Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections and  3-rhombus Howe lattice portal bracing with sub-divided heel bracing
Built (or relocated): 1954
Length: 200 feet (main span); 300 feet (total length)
Info:
Unlike the previous bridge, it is very obvious that this through truss bridge was relocated here for two reasons: 1. With a width of 16 feet, it would fall short of the requirements of having a bridge with a width of at least 28 feet, as the states introduced these requirements in the 1950s. And 2. The portal bracing would fail to meet the minimum vertical clearance requirements that were being enforced at that time, which was at least 15 feet high. In fact, beginning in the 1950s, highway through truss bridges with low vertical clearance and whose portal bracing had knee bracing were retrofitted to ensure that the vertical clearance requirements were met. This included replacing the portal bracing with those that are a third as deep as the original and cutting off the heel bracing. None of this was done on this bridge. Judging by the portal bracing and the riveted connections, it appears that the bridge was built between 1915 and 1925,  at the time when standardized truss bridges with riveted connections were introduced, making pinned connected truss bridges obsolete. What makes the bridge look younger is the recent paint job that was done on the bridge, making it look like it was built in the late 1930s.  This leads to the question of where this bridge originated from. While newspaper articles may help solve the mystery, people closest to the bridge are perhaps the most important source, for many of them may still be alive to explain the story of the bridge.

Photos:

Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission
Detail view of the riveted connections. Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission
Close-up of the portal bracing. Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission
Photo taken by Michael Goff, used with permission

Those with information on the two bridges should contact Rebecca Burrow and/or Michael Goff, who will be all ears with regards to any stories and articles that you have. You can also contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, who will update you on the status of the bridges once the mystery of these bridges is solved. The contact details are below:

Rebecca Burrow: rebecca.burrow@odot.state.or.us

Michael Goff: michael.goff@hotmail.com

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles brings people and history together, bridging the past and the future by providing people in the present with information on historic bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere. It is available through areavoices.com, and now through facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and flickr.