Historic Bridge Awareness Month: Interview with Craig Holstein

November is coming to a close, and with that the National Historic Bridge Month, a month where we take a look at the accomplishments involving preserving historic bridges in the US and elsewhere. This year, we have seen many more bridges preserved or in planning for preservation than in the past years. Part of this has to do with cost-cutting measures to repair the structure and prolong their lifespans. But another part has to do with the increased interest among residents and pontists to preserve the relicts that have contributed to the development of the infrastructure of the US, Europe and elsewhere.

To understand the importance of historic bridge awareness, Chris Hansen had a chance to interview Craig Holstein, historian of the Washington State Department of Transportation, for his talk show, Northwest Live, produced by Seattle-based radio station, KPQ. Although the state had been under scrutiny because of the collapse of the Skagit River I-5 Bridge while at the same time been criticized for losing many historic bridges in the last decade, the state has more bridges built before 1945 than previously thought. Washington has several claims in the construction of bridges, including Galloping Gertie and pontoon bridges, and therefore, to better understand more about Washington’s historic bridges, I’ve enclosed a link with some listening comprehension questions for you to answer and discuss in the Chronicles’ forum, either via facebook or directly here. Listen to the interview with Holstein and best of luck with the questions. The answers will be provided in two weeks. 🙂

 

holstein

McMillan Bridge, the lone concrete truss bridge in Washington state. HABS/HAER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many concrete truss bridges exist in the US?

 

Washington state was famous for concrete pontoon bridges. Who were the masterminds behind the development?

 

Galloping Gertie is the nickname of what bridge and why did it receive this nickname?

True or False: The pontoon bridge was open in the same year as Galloping Gertie.

How many roadway bridges exist in Washington state?

  1. 6000
  2. 7000
  3. 8000
  4. 9000

Washington state has only _____ covered bridge(s) in comparison with over _____ Oregon has.

 

True or False: Washington state has no book on historic bridges.

 

True or False: An Interstate Bridge over the Columbia Bridge will not be rebuilt.

 

Which historic bridge is the oldest still in service? Name the bridge, when it was built and where it was located.

 

 

 

Introducing: The 2013 Smith Awards for Spectacular Disasters

Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin: One of many bridges that was in the news because of a collapse of an approach span. Photo courtesy of Robert Thompson, used with permission

Aside from new categories for the 2013 Othmar H. Ammann Awards, the Smith Awards, where the author picks the best and worst news in the world of (historic) bridges, also has a new category that will be featured this year. With all the bridge disasters that have happened so far this year, caused by Mother Nature, recklessness and freak accidents, the Smith Awards will introduce the category for Spectacular Disasters. And unlike other categories for the Smith Awards, you will have an opportunity to vote to see which story should receive the award. Already nominated for this year’s Award includes the following (click on the link for more details):

The Sagging of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Destruction of the Big Bureau Creek Bridge in Bureau County, Illinois

The Destruction of a Railroad Trestle through fire in San Saba County, Texas

The Collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge in Washington State

Bridge Collapse caused by train wreck in Rockview, Missouri

Destruction of the Canadian River Bridge by tornado west of Oklahoma City

Do you have any other bridge disaster stories that are worth nominating? If so, you have until December 1st at 12:00am Central Standard Time to submit your stories to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. The nominations are open to all bridges in the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere, and you must include a link to the bridges, so that people can have a look at the entries and vote for them. Bridges destroyed by arson are not included for they belong to the Bonehead Category. Voting will commence at the same time as with the Ammann Awards and the winners will be announced the same time as the winners will be announced- namely before Christmas.

This year has been an unusual year as far as bridge disasters are concerned for they have affected all bridges, young and old and regardless of bridge type. We’re hoping that we can work to address the safety on the bridges, which starts off with maintaining them to ensure that they are safe to cross. Then it is followed by addressing the rules of crossing them, and lastly ensure that their importance in history and as a reference to bridge building is stressed. Only then will disasters like these (and more entries to come) can be avoided.