BHC Newsflyer 1 July, 2019

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bhc newsflyer new

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

 

Links to the headlines:

 

Morandi Bridge Demolished:

Headlines

New Replacement span

Videos of the Bridge collapse and demolition:

 

Aetnaville Truss Bridge in Wheeling Faces Demolition

Sydney historic Bridge faces uncertain future after years of neglect

Historic Mangaweka Bridge may live on

 

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

Facts and history of the Bridge

Information on the Remagen Museum

News Story (in German)

 

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

Facts and Photos of the Bridge

Information on its reopening

Video on the Bridge Project:

 

Historic Bridge Plaque in Napa Restored

Canton Railroad Bridge being Replaced

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

 

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2017 Ammann Awards Results: Part 2

25487549_1997570953650980_8821759845886005807_o
Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, Wisconsin. Winner of the Bridge of the Year Awards. Photo taken by Troy Hess.

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

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:

AA17Lifetime

 

 

schlema title pic
The Schlema Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River at Schlema

TOUR GUIDE INTERNATIONAL:

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

AA17TGINT

413653-l
Albertus Meyer Memorial Bridge in Allentown (Lehigh Co.), PA  Photo by HABS-HAER

TOUR GUIDE USA:

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

AA17TGUS

399649-l
The Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge at its new location in Conway, AR. Winner of the Best Preservation Practice Awards. Photo taken by Wayne Keller

BEST EXAMPLE OF A RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE

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

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

AA17PresExa

 

cobban 1
Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, WI: Winner of Bridge of the Year.

BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:

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

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

AA17BridgeofYear

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

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

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

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2017 Ammann Awards Results: Part 2

25487549_1997570953650980_8821759845886005807_o
Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, Wisconsin. Winner of the Bridge of the Year Awards. Photo taken by Troy Hess.

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

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:

AA17Lifetime

 

 

schlema title pic
The Schlema Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River at Schlema

TOUR GUIDE INTERNATIONAL:

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

AA17TGINT

413653-l
Albertus Meyer Memorial Bridge in Allentown (Lehigh Co.), PA  Photo by HABS-HAER

TOUR GUIDE USA:

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

AA17TGUS

399649-l
The Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge at its new location in Conway, AR. Winner of the Best Preservation Practice Awards. Photo taken by Wayne Keller

BEST EXAMPLE OF A RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE

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

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

AA17PresExa

 

cobban 1
Cobban Bridge spanning the Chippewa River near Cornell, WI: Winner of Bridge of the Year.

BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:

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

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

AA17BridgeofYear

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

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

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

bhc-logo-newest1

Interview With Amy Squitieri

Amy Squitieri of Mead & Hunt
Amy Squitieri of Mead & Hunt

If there is a slogan which best describes a pontist and a preservationist, it would be this: We breathe new life into bridges when they can no longer support the increasing amount of traffic. We maximize their usage so that other forms of transportation, such as bike and foot traffic, can benefit from it. We make sure that its history is documented and preserved for generations to come and they never go to waste.  Amy Squitieri has followed this rule of thumb throughout her career at Mead and Hunt, having documented dozens of historic bridges, and collaborating with other agencies and groups in preserving dozens more- all of which within her 23+ years at the company and also outside. However her interest in historic bridges came about through working at HABS/HAER and meeting the institute’s legend in the field, Eric DeLony. Her work in the field, carried over into her career at Mead and Hunt (where another historic bridge legend Robert Frame III has also set his mark in the company’s storied history), and thanks to her dedication, many historic bridges have indeed have been given new life in one way or another. This also includes seminars and other works on how to best preserve historic bridges even when funding on the state and federal levels are running thin.  Amy Squitieri was awarded the Lifetime Legacy Award by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles this past year, and despite running a tight schedule because of bridge-related obligations, I had a chance to do an online interview with her, talking about preservation, ways to overcome obstacles and success stories in her career. Here are some interesting facts about historic bridge preservation from her point of view. Enjoy! 🙂

 

  1. What is your favorite bridge in the USA and/or Europe? Why is it your favorite?

 

My current favorite is the Colorado Street Bridge in St. Paul, a large single-span, skewed masonry arch bridge built in 1888 (featured here). The street it carried was abandoned so it now stands forlorn in a public apartment complex. Its unusual arch ring features two different constructions: intrados of brick and extrados with alternating layers of limestone and brick.

 

  1. What got you interested in historic bridges? Any personal stories behind it is more than welcome?

 

My first job after graduate school (studied Architectural History at the University of Virginia) was with the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), working on the Rock Creek Parkway documentation in Washington D.C. Although it was a summer field project, due to the location we were housed in the main National Park Service office. This gave me the chance to work directly with Eric Delony, former chief of HAER and noted pontist. I was assigned as the bridge historian and documented 18 bridges that summer. Within a year, I was a consultant in Wisconsin and coincidentally among my first projects were evaluation and documentation of historic bridges.

 

  1. According to the website, you have been working for Mead & Hunt for many years. What does the company do in connection with historic bridges?

 

I’ve been at Mead & Hunt for 23 years and started our cultural resources practice, which includes our specialties in historic roads, bridges and other engineering structures. Mead & Hunt historians and bridge engineers work collaboratively on historic bridge projects nationwide. Our work includes bridge design for rehabilitation projects, statewide historic bridge inventories (conducted in 12 states), Section 106/4f coordination, NEPA documentation, structural analysis and feasibility/alternatives studies.

 

  1. Can you share some HB success stories involving Mead & Hunt?

 

We just completed rehabilitation of the Philippi Bridge in West Virginia, led by our Charleston office. The bridge was originally constructed in 1852 and has strong associations with the Civil War. It is the only covered bridge serving the U.S. Highway system and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. It was last restored by Emory Kemp in the late 1990s but had extensive deterioration in the roofing and siding. It was dedicated and reopened last month.

 

Mead & Hunt has worked on eligibility evaluations, historical documentation, alternatives studies and/or management plans for more than 200 historic bridges in Minnesota. I played a key role in developing the historian-engineer collaborative team approach to rehabilitating historic bridges implemented in Minnesota since 2007, which has now been applied in the preparation of 150+ individual management plans and ~35 rehabilitation projects. Mead & Hunt brings that same collaborative approach to every historic bridge project regardless of location.

 

IMG_5289
Philippi Covered Bridge in West Virgina

 

  1. Can you describe your role at Mead & Hunt? Slogan and reasons are welcome?

 

I work with a team of other historians and bridge engineers who collectively have many decades of experience with historic bridges of all types. My role on historic bridge projects is Principal Historian. Additionally I have several leadership roles at Mead & Hunt including Vice President, Group Leader and member of the Board of Directors. As a full-service engineering and architectural consulting firm, Mead & Hunt works nationally to deliver projects locally. I lead our Environment and Infrastructure Group to serve client needs in transportation, municipal infrastructure, environmental services, water/wastewater treatment, construction services, energy, and cultural resources. This group is comprised of a diverse team of engineering, environmental, technical, preservation and planning professionals. We function as a trusted partner to our clients, and that partnership results in consistently outstanding solutions.

 

  1. The words restore and rehabilitation are sometimes used interchangeably when talking about HBs. Is there a difference between them?

 

Absolutely there’s a difference. Restoration and rehabilitation are two of four separate standards defined within the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. The other two are preservation and reconstruction. Together the four standards cover the range of actions that may be applied to historic bridges.

 

Rehabilitation is the one we typically follow for historic bridge projects, because it allows for adaptation of a bridge to a new purpose and/or to meet modern design standards. This flexibility is important to developing alternatives and selecting an approach that meets the project’s purpose and need.

 

Restoration is the highest standard and can be difficult to achieve for a bridge that needs to meet a current use; however, it can be applied to restore materials and/or features from the bridge’s significant period. An example is returning lost light standards or restoring a bridge railing that was removed.

 

  1. What problems have you identified regarding the following and how have you (and others) found ways to counter them?

 

  • Rehabilitating HBs – Historic bridges have a wide range of engineering challenges including structural deterioration, inadequate load capacity, poor geometrics, etc. Project challenges include limited funding, lack of support for preservation, and some owners and engineers being unfamiliar with rehabilitation approaches. We’ve found success by helping owners prioritize and invest in historic bridges that are able to fulfill ongoing transportation needs (this makes it easier to find funding). See below for a new training course that is intended to help educate about successful rehabilitation approaches.

 

  • Repurposing HBs – Mead & Hunt helped Minnesota Department of Transportation reinstall the historic Silverdale Bridge as part of the Department of Natural Resources Gateway-Brown’s Creek Trail. The Gateway Trail Iron Bridge is a wrought iron truss bridge constructed in 1873 across Main Street in Sauk Center. In 1937, the bridge was dismantled and moved to Highway 65 in Koochiching County. A new bridge was needed to accommodate heavy logging trucks and modern traffic, so in 2009 the historic bridge was dismantled and stored. Built during the days of the horse and buggy, the bridge again serves horses, along with pedestrian and bicyclists on the Gateway Trail. Challenges included field riveting used for the first time in Minnesota in many decades.

 

  • Marketing HBs – We’re not involved in this often but have had previous success helping new owners accept and move several truss bridges in Wisconsin.

 

  • Restoring HBs – We’re not involved in restorations per se.

 

  1. HBs have dwindled by the hundreds over the past decade. Can you summarize from your perspective why they are being taken down without considering reuse?

 

Limited funding, especially for historic bridges that cannot continue to serve vehicular traffic, is a major challenge. In addition, bridge owners and engineers are often not familiar with available options beyond replacement. To help address this, a team of engineers and historians, including myself, developed a course that is now offered through the National Preservation Institute. The course, Historic Bridges: Management, Regulations, and Rehabilitation, teaches participants how a collaborative approach to rehabilitation projects benefits the regulatory and design process; and how they can identify and apply rehabilitation techniques that will meet engineering and historic preservation standards.

 

  1. Engineers, especially agents at the DOT, have used the reason “HBs are functionally obsolete and they are at the end of their useful life. Can you elaborate what they mean and do you agree/disagree with the statement?

 

I don’t hear functional obsolescence used as a particular reason to replace bridges. I see the engineers I work with at Mead & Hunt and various state DOTs take a more holistic approach to evaluating alternatives for historic bridges. Foremost, we consider project purpose and need, which is a key part of the U.S. regulatory process. In addition, these factors are important to future use: rehabilitation potential, load capacity, geometrics on bridge and approach roadway, available detour for heavier trucks, and, where applicable, other restrictive factors (e.g. boat or rail traffic beneath). Our work focuses on keeping bridges in transportation use—typically for vehicles but sometimes for pedestrians, bikes and/or horses.

 

  1. Wisconsin, where Mead & Hunt is located is on a modernization spree at the cost of many HBs. Any reasons behind that?

 

Mead & Hunt has offices across the nation, and I wouldn’t say we are on a “modernization spree” in any of the states where we operate. This is because currently money for infrastructure and transportation projects is pretty tight and many states are focused on asset management and maintenance and preservation projects. However, I’d agree that there generally isn’t much support for historic bridge preservation in Wisconsin. A notable exception would be the City of Milwaukee which we’ve helped to rehabilitate several bascule bridges, including on Cherry and State Streets and Kilbourn Avenue.

 

  1. What projects are you and your crew undertaking at the moment?

 

We’re in year five of putting in place the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s historic bridge program. An early step involved review of more than 4,500 state and locally owned bridges constructed through 1970. This groundbreaking effort proactively identified 150 historic structures, allowing the LADOTD to consider these historic resources early in project planning and development. The state has committed to preserve 33 historic bridges that we identified as the best candidates for preservation.  The capstone of the program is a Programmatic Agreement that outlines procedures for managing the state’s historic bridges, streamlines coordination under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and provides public outreach, training, and funding for historic bridges.  An award-winning publication, historic documentation, and marketing bridges for reuse provides mitigation for historic bridges that were found inadequate to serve in long-term transportation use. We’re in the final stages of preparing individual management plans to guide the preservation of the 33 priority bridges.

 

We are just starting a multi-phase project in Georgia to identify historic bridges and develop management recommendations.

 

  1. What would you personally like to see done re. the remaining HBs in the U.S.?

 

I’m generally an optimist and see several positive trends for historic bridges. The current focus on maintaining aging infrastructure as states work with limited funding has owners working to extend the useful life of bridges, including those that have historic significance. Through training opportunities and better collaboration, professionals and owners are seeing more options to keep historic bridges in use.

 

I’m also a realist and recognize that you can’t save every historic bridge. I’d like to see more proactive efforts to conduct maintenance and rehabilitation activities before deterioration advances too far. More money for repairing old bridges in general—and including those that are historic—would be great. Infrastructure overall is woefully underfunded. Special funding is needed for truss and covered bridges to be repurposed on trails when they can no longer serve vehicles, since most government funding is restricted to bridges that carry vehicular traffic.

 

Pont de Vessy in Geneva. One of Robert Malliart's prized works. Photo taken in 2006
Pont de Vessy in Geneva. One of Robert Malliart’s prized works. Photo taken in 2006

 

  1. Any bridges you would like to see before you retire?

 

Retirement is quite a few years off for me but I enjoy traveling in the U.S. and abroad. I would particularly like to see the Forth Bridge in Scotland and the work of Robert Maillart in Switzerland. Once I retire, I plan to travel even more.

 

Author’s Note: HABS/HAER stands for Historic American Builders Society/ Historic American Engineering Record. Its role in documenting and preserving historic bridges and other artefacts can be found here, which includes a database on places documented by the organization. It is part of the US Library of Congress located in Washington, DC.

 

bhc jacob

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.

Bridgehunter Chronicles supports the victims of Superstorm Sandy

We have seen many disaster films where megastorms, whether they are hurricanes, snowstorms, sandstorms or a combination of them and then some burrow in on the cities, destroying buildings, places of interest and the lives of thousands of people. The film that depicted the wrath of Mother Nature at its worst and is still one of the best of all time was “The Day After Tomorrow,” produced in 2004. In that film, half of the US and the world underwent unprecedented weather changes where series of storms caused by global warming caused the area to become nothing more than ice and snow.

Superstorm Sandy, consisting of a hurricane originating from the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica, as well as a Noreaster storm from the west and an Arctic cold front from Canada, may not have turned the northeastern portion of the United States back towards the Ice Age, like it was depicted into the film, but the moment the storm made landfall on Monday, it was 100% clear that the livelihood of the 50+ million people living in the area and the landscape would change forever. After taking a look at the pictures provided by many mediums, including CNN, all one can say is unbelievable. Worse than Katrina, Worse than Andrew. And with the snowfall that accompanied the storm, it made the Winter 2010/11 look like a dwarf with 3-4 feet of snow in one punch. It is only a miracle that the casualties are light (only 31 dead in the US and Canada at the time of this entry).

It is unknown how many historic bridges have been damaged or destroyed, as the information is lacking at the present. But as the cleanup continues, it is certain that many of them may have become part of the infrastructural casualties, for like the transit system that links Washington and New York and is still shut down, many of the structures over rivers and ravines may have been washed away by flood waters, burned to the ground because of electric fires or flattened by falling trees. In either case, it will take a few days before we know how many bridges were sacrificed in this storm of the century, let alone which ones and where.

But you can help. If you know of a historic bridge that was affected by Superstorm Sandy, please write to the columnist and provide some information about the bridge (its location, history and bridge type) and how it was affected by the Superstorm. There are three ways to inform the readers about the bridges: One is directly to the columnist using the following e-mail address: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. The stories will be posted individually and in separate articles. You can also put your information in the Comment section at the end of this article. And you can also post your stories through the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles page on facebook. Photos of the bridge before and after the storm are strongly encouraged. Your name will be anonymous if requested. The goal is to inform the public on a wider scale about the structures affected and allow them to contribute in rebuilding them.

It will take months for people to recover from this disaster, which is still ongoing. But what they need from you is help, in rebuilding their lives, their homes and their communities and their history. There are many organizations both in the US and internationally that are available. Please contact them if you are interested. Some links to the ones I found are below.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has thoughts and prayers going out to those affected by the storm and is right behind you all the way in the recovery efforts.

Organizations that are assisting people in need because of Superstorm Sandy:

American Red Cross  (https://www.redcross.org/donate/index.jsp?donateStep=2&itemId=prod10002&scode=RSG00000E029&subcode=preimpactcdrp)

AmeriCares (https://secure.americares.org/site/Donation2?df_id=1520&1520.donation=form1)

The Salvation Army  (http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/)

Operation USA  (https://donate.opusa.org/?)

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/

Bridgeport Bridge (finally) comes down

Portal view Photo taken in August 2010

When you first take a look at this bridge, you’ll find that it is located in a very rural setting- abandoned for many years with lots of vegetation overgrowing on and around the structure, making it impossible to cross unless you want to deal with beds of thorns, poison ivy, and deer ticks. However, as you can see in the next pictures, the augmented views of the bridge, taken from the side of its successor, a piece of bland concrete piece of monotonous artwork which puts a blotch in the city scape, you will find that the bridge has gone through years of abuse and neglect, with peeling paint, rusting sections, and flooring system that has been taken out, exposing the bottom chord, most of which is corroding or missing. If you go underneath the bridge, like yours truly did during the time of the Historic Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh, last August, it was like going through the jungle of Dante (as in Dante’s Inferno), with the banks of the Ohio River, where this bridge spans, being littered with garbage, signs of darkness thanks to the overgrowth on the bridge and if there was a hint of sunlight, it created a very eerie sensation, as if you were walking through a bombed out cathedral after the war with blown out windows, charred pews and pipes of an organ, and the silence and loneliness you only see when you are clinging barely onto life while facing death at the same time.

I’ve only seen one bridge that had this eerie sensation and that was with a railroad bridge spanning the Rock River on the west end of Rock Valley, Iowa, even though it has long since been converted to pedestrian use. However, after being on and underneath this structure, it really shows what nature can do to a structure after years of neglect and what life can do to someone or some agency for neglecting it to begin with.

The Bridgeport Bridge, spanning the Ohio River at Wheeling, West Virginia, separates the state with Ohio to the east. It is one of the rarest bridges of its kind that you can find in the US- a three-span bridge whose endposts are vertical and not diagonal like a common truss bridge has. One can find those in many places in Europe, like the Hollernzollern Bridge over the Rhein River in Cologne, Germany or the Chancy Bowstring Truss Bridge over the Rhône near Geneva, Switzerland. Yet by examining the portal bracing and the finials that are located at each corner on the upper chord, it is typical of an American truss bridge, as many portal bracings on arch and truss bridges in Europe at that time were either a common portal (A-frame) or have a concrete arch entrance, like you see when entering the castle across the drawbridge. Also unique is the fact that unlike the Hollernzollern Bridge, the bridge is a three-span  pin-connected Parker through truss bridge, with all these aforementioned features, which leads to the question of why a bridge company would market that in their truss bridge catelogue, like the Wrought Iron Bridge Company did.

When the bridge was built in 1893, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company was in the middle of marketing their bridges through the catelogues. That means governments and residents wanting to have a bridge in or near their town or home would order the bridge through the company catelogue, then have the company agent send the order to the manufacturers, who construct the parts to fit the needs of the customer before it could be shipped by train and assembled on site. Wrought Iron’s style of business, similar to ordering products through a Sears Catelogue in the US or Quelle in Germany (before it folded in 2009), was later practiced by other bridge companies that wanted to keep the bridge company giant in check; especially after Wrought Iron Bridge became part of the American Bridge Company consortium seven years after the Bridgeport structure was built. It is unclear how many bridges similar to Bridgeport’s were ordered and built, but it did become clear that unless something is done to keep the crossing at Wheeling intact and used for anything apart from vehicular use that consequences would come out of it, which would scar the city for life.

The Bridgeport Bridge used to serve US Hwy. 40 until the successor was built, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Bridge, in 1998. Before that, the roadway was strengthened in 1987 by adding a Bailey truss bridge onto the deck to serve as a roadway. Unfortunately, it was not enough to accomodate the traffic flow and it was closed to traffic once the Purple Heart Bridge was open to traffic. Then it just sat there, rotting away until it became clear that the structure, deemed a beatuy when it was first opened to traffic, because an ugly eyesore, which needed to be removed- at least in the eyes of the City of Wheeling.

Attempts have been made for at least five years to do something with the structure- either restore it for pedestrian use or remove it. The former was brought up by preservationists and those interested in saving the structure, but fell on deaf ears. The latter was attempted by those who did not want the structure anymore but it fell on deaf ears due to funding and opposition.  Promises and predictions to remove the bridge has gone on since 2006, with the last call to remove it being in 2009. That did not happen. Now the US Coast Guard has come in, ordering the bridge to be removed post haste, as debris and parts from the bridge have fallen into the Ohio River. Therefore, the plan is to have the bridge removed beginning in July, with help from the department of transportation offices of both Ohio and West Virginia. The project is expected to take two months, but it will also include salvaging the most memorable parts to be exhibited at the local museums. Whether this plan will be realized due to the deficit problems in the US and the struggling growth of the economy remains to be seen. Given the situation that is being dealt with at the moment, it is possible that the plan may yet be pushed back again, and again, and again……

While removing Dante’s jungle may be a relief to many, it will serve as a permanent scar to the community as the structure would have served as a complement to what Wheeling has already. It has one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, as well as a historic city center, and the city does have some unique features that make it attractive. It was just too bad that the Bridgeport Bridge was not one of the historic features that should be saved. While leaving the bridge closed to traffic may serve as a temporary solution, it was indeed an out of sight and out of mind tactic, which once the bridge is eventually removed, it will remain a site where it once stood and it will remain in the minds of many in the community, that will associate Wheeling with this bridge.

PHOTOS (All were taken in August 2010 and linked through Flickr):

Inside the bridge with the roadway removed.

Dante’s jungle: The sun shining into the lower chord of the bridge

Dante’s Jungle: The abutment and the portal bracing from the banks of the Ohio River

Abutments: Note the bottom abutments (together with the center piers) came from a bridge built around 1837. The ones on top are from the 1893 bridge

Behind the bridge. Note: You can see the Ohio State Line sign hanging from the lower strut bracing just as one would get off by car when it was open to traffic. That sign, along with some other memorabilia from the bridge, are expected to be saved and displayed at the museum before the rest of the structure comes down.

Close-up of the finials at the corners of the bridge- this time at the center piers. Some of them will be preserved for display purposes.