Mead Avenue Bridge in Pennsylvania Saved- On its Way to New Home

Photos taken in August 2010

Photos taken in August 2010

Mead Avenue Bridge in Meadville, Pennsylvania. One of the most unique bridges in the US and perhaps even beyond. Spanning French Creek, the two-span through truss bridge featured an 1871 worught iron Whipple span encased with a 1912 Baltimore span.  When I visited the bridge during the 2010 Historic Bridge Weekend, the blue-colored span was closed to traffic with a bleak future in its midst. The majority of the city’s population wanted the bridge gone. But efforts were being undertaken to try and preserve at least half the span. This bridge was the first one profiled in the very first aricle I wrote for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles blog, when it was launched in October of that same year. Click here for the article.

Fast forward to the present and the situation has changed completely. The bridge is being profiled again as the first article produced by the Chronicles as a website, yet the bridge is no more.

DSCF9393 Meadville Bridge PA11 Meadville Bridge PA4 Meadville Bridge PA3

Well, not quite. :-)

Most of the historic bridges like this one would be cut up into pieces and hauled away to be recycled. In Pennsylvania it is no exception for many of them are being replaced through the rapid replacement program initiated by PennDOT and many bridge builders in the private sector last year. Yet a last-minute attempt by one pontist has paid off. The bridge is being distmantled, the parts will be hauled, BUT it will be relocated. The question is how?

The Chronicles had a chance to talk about the plan to restore the bridge with Art Suckewer, the pontist who is spearheading the efforts and pulled off the last minute trick to saving the artefact from becoming a thing of the past. What he is going to do with the bridge and the challenges that he and his crew are facing at the moment you can find in the interview by clicking here, which will direct you to the Chronicles’ website.

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Posted in Bridge Preservation, Bridge Profile USA, FYI Bridge Newsflash, Interview/ Person Profile, News, Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles Now a Website!

Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014

Bettendorf Twin Suspension Bridges spanning the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Specifically, between Moline and Bettendorf. Photo taken in Dec. 2014

Confessions of a writer: Sometimes being away from something you do helps you think of something bigger and better. The past couple months have witnessed not many postings direct from the Chronicles, and for a good reason- the online column is growing up. Once considered a blog that has attracted many readers on facebook, twitter and through direct subscriptions, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles now has its own website, powered by WordPress.

To access the website, please click on the picture below:

BoF

Disregarding the new photos on the website, including the pages, the format of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles remains the same as it focuses on historic bridges, ways to preserve them and places to visit where they are plentiful in number. There are a couple differences that are key to telling the new website apart from the blog.

 

  1. The website version will focus more in detail on some of the larger aspects of historic bridges. This includes articles pertaining to historic bridge preservation practices, tour guides of regions with a high number of historic bridges, information on bridge preservation projects, interviews with experts, etc.

 

Some of the tour guides produced in the blog version will be reproduced in the website version thanks to the newest feature: Google Maps, which will help you find the historic bridge much   easier than using an ordinary map, let alone taking some guesses as to where they are located.

 

Since it also has a polling feature, the website version will utilize this for questions for the forum, as well as for the upcoming 2015 Ammann Awards. This way, people can easily be directed   to  the polls from the article.

 

  1. The blog version will remain as is, except its role will focus mainly on Newsflyers, updates on historic bridge projects, tributes to historic bridge greats, questions for the forum that do NOT require the use of the polls, announcements of special events pertaining to historic bridges, photography, conferences, etc., and anything of importance that only requires up to a page to write. For articles to be posted in the website, an abstract of them will be featured with a link directing you to the article on the website.   These you will find through AreaVoices, an online community that is part of the InForum family. 

 

So in short, if you want to know which of the two Bridgehunter’s Chronicles types you should subscribe to, the answer is simple: subscribe to BOTH versions to get the best coverage. However, all articles from the two versions will continue to be posted in the Chronicles’ facebook pages as well as twitter. To play it safe and follow the updates of bridges from various sources posted, subscribe to the Chronicles on both facebook and twitter.  A third social network page, like tumblr or Reddit for example is being considered, and once that is launched, you will be informed here on the Chronicles.

Even though the Chronicles has eliminated the Guest Writer page for the website and will do so for the blog version as some clean-up will be needed, we are still looking for featured writers to submit articles on historic bridges and other themes associated with them. If you have an article you wish to have posted for the readers to see, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com, or use the contact form in the About the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles page. You can also post the inquiry on the Chroncles’ facebook pages.

Last note before going to a rather bitter sweet story involving one particular historic bridge, the Chronicles’ facebook page features two different pages: the main page and the group page. The group page will remain as is, providing information on historic bridges in the US with a platform where you can provide questions for others to discuss. If you want to join, please ask the administrator, and you will be welcomed with open arms.  The main page is where you can read up on all the articles on historic bridges from the Chronicles as well as other online sources. There you can Like to follow for more coverage. The goal is to reach 500 Likes by the end of this year. Given the number accrued so far, that goal is realistic, esp. if word goes around from readers like you.

The Chronicles welcomes any comments and suggestions pertaining to the website. If you would like to see some changes, please let the author know.

Now without further ado, let’s go to a story about one bridge that had been closed for many years, but now has a happy ending. Hint, this bridge was the first written for the blog version, when it was launched five years ago. Any guesses of what the name of this bridge is, let alone where it is located?

Let’s find out, shall we?  :-)

 

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Cairo Bridge Closed for a Year

Photos taken by James Baughn

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in Bridge Preservation, Bridge Profile USA, FYI Bridge Newsflash, News, Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Europabrücke in Rendsburg Coming Down

Underneath the Europabruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

Underneath the Europabruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

bhc new logo newsflyerCo-produced with sister column

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RENDSBURG, GERMANY- It’s one of the longest and highest bridges in Schleswig-Holstein: 1457 meters long, 30 meters wide and 50 meters high above the Baltic-North Sea Canal. The Europabrücke, locally known as the Rader Hochbrücke, is one of the most heavily travelled bridges in northern Germany, carrying the main artery connecting Flensburg and all points in Scandanavia to the north and Hamburg and all points to the south, the motorway A7. Built in 1972, the cantilever deck bridge has reached the end of its useful life.

Unlike the April Fools joke involving neighboring Rendsburg High Bridge in 2013, this is a serious matter.

According to sources from shz.de, plans are in the making to replace the bridge with a wider and sturdier structure with plans to have the structure replaced in 12 years’ time. Two factors influence the decision by the Ministry of Transportation in Berlin and the state authorities in Kiel to replace the 43-year old bridge. First and foremost, inspection reports revealed wear and tear on the bridge’s deck, caused by extreme weather conditions, salt and debris from the canal it spans and lastly, too much traffic on the bridge. The bridge was closed for several weeks in 2013 because of spalling cracks in the concrete that needed to be patched. This resulted in chaos for travellers needed to detour through the tunnel in Rendsburg, the transporter portion of the Rendsburg High Bridge in order to get across or even the ferries near the city, just to name many alternatives.  The second factor for the bridge replacement is because the motorway is being widened from its present four lanes to six lanes, between Hamburg and Flensburg. Already underway is the stretch between Neumünster and Quickborn, the widening process will include replacing over four dozen bridges built in the 1950s, widening the present lanes and adding one additional one in each direction to ensure that travelling this stretch is safer than before. This stretch of A7 has been notorious for several accidents and traffic jams, especially near Hamburg. The bridge replacement will be part of the next stretch of highway to be widened.

While the design-phase is in its infancy, the plan is to build one half of the replacement span wide enough for four lanes of traffic. After shifting traffic onto the new span, the old span will be torn down and replaced with the second half of the replacement span. The plan is to have the bridge completed by 2027.

Yet pressure is being applied by German Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt to start construction of the new bridge as soon as possible, giving designers up to 18 months to complete the process before construction starts. The project is being considered for federal support by officials in Berlin. How long the designing process and the impact surveys will take place as well as when construction will start remains open. But given the critical situation of the bridge and the motorway, the bridge will most likely move up the priority ladder quickly so that work can start at the latest next year.

Judging by the bridge’s modern appearance, from the photographer’s and pontist’s  point of view, the bridge appeared to be functioning great and its sleak design makes it one of the crossings worth seeing while biking aling the Grand Canal. However, looks can be deceiving when looking at the cracks in the concrete. Given the recent bridge collapse in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, politicians and engineers are wasting no time getting the project moving forward in Rendsburg.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest with the bridge. Together with sister column The Flensburg Files, a series on projects in Schleswig-Holstein is being produced to give travellers an idea what to expect in the coming months.

Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

Author’s notes:

A series on the Bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal was produced by the Chronicles. The Europabrücke is found here.

The Flensburg Files is doing a quiz series on the 16 German states as part of the country’s 25th anniversary celebration. The first one on Schleswig-Holstein you can find here. The answers will come on 24 March.

And like the Files, The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is currently undergoing an upgrade to internet status. Articles will continue to be posted during the construction proces, which is expected to take a few weeks to complete. So stay here and enjoy the articles to come.

 

 

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Fehmarn Bridge Spared/ Industrial Areal Rejected

Fehmarn Bridge in Germany. Used as the new logo for the Bridgehunter's Chronicles. Photo taken in September 2014

Fehmarn Bridge in Germany. Used as the new logo for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Photo taken in September 2014

Co-produced with sister column:

FF new logo

 

 

 

Burg (Fehmarn)-  In the last 20 years, attempts have been made to turn the largest island in Germany, located northeast of Oldenburg in Schleswig-Holstein at the border to Denmark, into an industrial area, especially in the northern half of the island. And since last summer, a petition was made to put the proposal up to vote, which was granted on March 8. The question was whether profits from the new industrial area would make sense or whether it is best to keep the island as is and feed its profits from tourism and environmentalism. In other words, do they want the industry or not.

The majority spoke for the latter- and by an enormous number of votes!

Voters on the 8th voted unanimously to reject the proposal by the conglomerate Baltic FS to establish an industrial area in the northern part of the island with an average vote of two thirds favoring the annullment of the agreement with the firm and less than a third for the agreement. The plan would have allowed companies to establish their facilities on 15 acres of land between Puttgarden and Marienleuchte, which would have resulted in the widening of the Migratory Route (Vogellinie) between Hamburg and Lübeck to the south and Copenhagen in the north.  The majority that voted against the proposal were concerned about the increase in air and noise pollution caused by the establishment of several small firms as well as the subsequential increase in traffic, and that the environmentally sensitive region would sustain significant damage as a result.

Proponents of the proposal wanted additional revenue to that coming from the tourism section, which is the main source of income. Yet because of the haste in planning by Baltic FS combined with questions about the affects of the Areal being answered vaguely or even left out, the majority of the residents of Fehmarn voted to cut the cord on the deal. The proposal, according to the news source Fehmarn Heiligenhafen is now on ice for at least two years, but attempts are being made by the Initiative Bewahrt Fehmarn (Preserve Fehmarn) to ensure that the Areal plan is off the table for good, together with the widening of the Vogellinie route and with that, a new bridge over the Fehmarn Sound to the south west of Burgstaaken and a new tunnel to the north at Puttgarden. Should this plan be successful, it is most likely that the Areal may be scrapped or even relocated. The Danish town of Rodby in Lolland may be the best place for the district, if the latter is proposed, given its strategic location.

 

Fehmarn Tunnel and Bridge on Ice?

In addition to the good news regarding the Areal, work on the Fehmarn Tunnel between Puttgarden and Rodby (Denmark) as well as the proposal for building a new Fehmarn Bridge between Burgstaaken and mainland Germany has been stalled for political reasons. According to sources from the Lübecker Nachricht newspaper as well as from the Initiative Bewarht Fehmarn, work on the new 18-kilometer long tunnel will most likely start in 2018 with the completion being in 2024. This will be three years later than scheduled. Reason for the delay is the debate on the future of the Fehmarn Bridge on the south end. According to an article produced in December, the 1963 basket-weave tied arch bridge was the very first bridge of its kind built, setting the stage for several more similar structures that have been built since then and three more to be built in the next five years; one of which is the Levansau Bridge west of Kiel.

The German Railways (Die Bahn), owners of the bridge, wants two new bridges- one for railway traffic and one for the motorway and relieve its duties in maintaining the bridge- possibly even tearing it down. Residents are against the proposal for the bridge as it is one of the main icons of the island, plus it would mean residents losing acres of land and pollution setting in from an increase in traffic. While the tunnel proposal is on the table, it has not been etched in stone due to opposition and costs for the project, which politicians in Berlin are debating. While the bridge is expected to handle traffic for another 30 years at the most, according to sources, work is underway to determine what needs to be done with the bridge to prolong its life further, while at the same time ensure that the island does not witness an increase in volume of traffic through the tunnel or three-bridge solution and with that, the conversion of the two-lane road into a motorway, something the majority of residents are opposed to.

More on the Fehmarn Bridge you’ll find via Bridgehunter’s Chronicles by clicking on the logo below:

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The Flensburg Files and its sister column will keep you informed on the developments in the Fehmarn Region. Yet the Initiative Bewahrt Fehmarn needs your help and support. For more on how to help, please go to their facebook page and contact the people involved to see how you can help.

 

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Interview with Jet Lowe

Photo taken by John O’connell Link: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/George_Washington_Bridge_from_New_Jersey-edit.jpg

If there is a word of advice to give to a person wanting to engage in the hobby of photography, it would be this:

1. Look the surroundings. What do you see beyond the naked eye? What is most unique about the surrounding that is worth photographing?

2. Choose an object and/or a person you find attractive. Why choose this subject and how unique is it from the eye of a photographer?

Photography has become a popular hobby for many people, as they find the best spot/subject for a good photo opportunity and after taking dozens of snap shots, find the best photo that they are proud of- that they display for others to see, and benefit from the prize money from the photo contests sometimes. :-)

For Jet Lowe, photography has been a major part of his life for almost five decades. Ranging from skyscrapers to bridges, Lowe has produced some of the most unique shots of his subjects from angles that even some of the amateur photographers today can even dream of doing.  Lowe was selected as the winner of the 2014 Ammann Awards in the category of Lifetime Achievement for his role in photographing hundreds of bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere, and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles had an opportunity to interview him about his experiences and the secret to being a great photographer. Here is what we found out about him:

1.      Tell us about yourself: how did your career start, and how did it lead you to HABS-HAER?

I owe my career to an academic trip to Haiti in 1966.  A faculty member of the school I was attending loaned me his Pentax h3v with which to take pictures.  It was a one month trip, film was expensive so I rolled my own cassettes of 20 or more black and white tri-x, a dozen rolls of kodachrome and basically got hooked.  This was my first year of college, from that point on I knew I wanted to be a photographer, did not know exactly how to go about it so I ended up majoring in Art History which in retrospect was a great choice.  Straight out of college I landed a job as the staff photographer for the Georgia Historical Commission doing museum photography as well as photographing historic districts for the then new federal program of the National Register of Historic Places.  It was working for the Historical Commision that put the bee in my bonnet about how it might be neat to work for HABS some day ( I did not know about HAER at the time which in retrospect was a much better match).

2.      How did you become interested in photography?While traveling in Haiti with my professor’s loaned camera I found myself ending up in places that I might not have been in had I not been in search of images,  and meeting people.  The Haitians although quite poor economically have a strong and magical spirit.

3.      A large portion of your photos posted on HABS-HAER have been historic bridges. Are they your primary targets, or do you also photograph other historic places, such as buildings, stadiums, etc.?As the staff photographer for HAER our mandate was and is to photograph the engineered and built environment of the United States. From windmills to the Space Shuttle,  No small mandate!  I like to think of bridges as a subject matter for HAER(Historic American Engineering Record) like houses have been for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).  Bridges tend to encapsulate the structural engineering thought of any given time period.  

4.      Which bridge you photographed was your favorite?The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson always comes first to mind for its complexity, significance, as well as photogeneity.

5.      Which bridge was the most difficult to photograph? How did you overcome this difficulty?  I would have to say the Brooklyn Bridge because it was my first major documentation of a nationally significant bridge.  The documentation was to involve getting to the towers via walking up the cables.  Never having done this caused me a bit of anxiety in the week leading up to the day of working on the bridge.  The maintenance men who were my hosts drily assured me they had not lost any one yet walking up the cables.  The Brooklyn Bridge was also the first one that I photographed from the air using a world war II vintage aerial camera.  One thing that helped in overcoming the more difficult hurdles of the assignment was a week spent in New York getting as many photographs completed on the ground before climbing the towers.  When the big day finally arrived I was at least fairly familiar with the structure.  One of the great privileges of my job at HAER was the opportunity to climb around on numerous other big suspension bridges,including the Takoma Narrows,  Oakland, Golden Gate, and Verrazanno Narrows to name a few that are now housed in the HAER collection.

6.      Which bridge that you had photographed but was later demolished was one that you wished to have preserved and why?The Bellows Falls (Vermont) arch suspension bridge was amongst the most elegant of bridges I have photographed and represented also one of the greatest losses to our patrimony.

The Bellows Falls Bridge: one of many bridges photographed by Jet Lowe. Photo taken before its demise in 1982. Source: HABS-HAER

7.      Many other photographers, including James Baughn (who finished second in the Lifetime Achievement category) and (Nathan Holth, who finished third) have done a great deal of contributions of photos for their historic bridge websites. How important has photography been in addressing the importance of historic bridges and ways to preserve them? Photography is still the most palpable way of showing us the way a bridge structure looked, and occupied its environment.  I think the photographer David Plowden deserves credit for being one of the first photographers to focus attention on the contribution and richness that bridges add to our built environment.

8.      If someone is interested in photography as a profession, what advice would you give him/her and what is the outlook in your opinion?I think there will always be a market out there for photographers that have a special vision and are obsessed with their work. Young photographers should look at the work of others and study the great prints in the museums and also think in terms of converting their favorite images in to a photographic print, not just an electronic entity.   It is probably even more difficult to break into the discipline as a means of making a living now because of the dilution of the medium via iPhones and the internet.  The outlook is difficult, however I can not stress enough the rewards for following one’s muse.

 The last sentence stated by Jet Lowe could not be any clearer than that. With social networks and iPhones dominating our livelihoods, many of us have a canny for selfie shots, shooting events in our lives, or even getting some shots of places of interest while travelling. However, the quality of real photography has declined because of the flooding of pictures that would be considered null and void in the eyes of the professionals. However, it does not mean that professional and amateur photography will die off. Many of us will specialize in areas once considered unknown, such as night photography, landscape photography and forms of architectural photography (and in particular, bridge photography) because they are important for people  interested in not only looking at them on display but also to document the historical importance, using them as a springboard for preservation efforts. Therefore, one should not be afraid of engaging in such a unique hobby. It may not be a full-time profession, but it is one that will satisfy the interest of the photographer and those interested in taking a look at his/her work.  So to close the interview, take the camera, take your girlfriend out with you, take some shots of what you think is beautiful and show her life from your perspective- from your own lens. You may never know what your photos will look like, let alone be worth when selling them on the market or entering them in a contest. Henceforth, click-click!

Photo taken by the author in December, 2014


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Newsflyer: 3 February, 2015

Plaka Bridge in Epirus, Greece- now gone. Photo courtesy of Inge Kanakaris-Wirtl.

One Historic Bridge Gone by Mother Nature, Another Destroyed Illegally, Another Disappears but One is Restored and Reused

Greece has been a thorn in the side of the European Union since 2010, or rather the EU has been a thorn in the side of Greece, if looking at it from Prime Minister Tsipras, who was recently elected and has promised changes not pleasing to Brussels. Yet with recent flooding going on in Greece, he will have more to do at home, as clean-up efforts are taking place. This includes rebuilding historic bridges, like this one, the 1866 Plaka Bridge. That bridge was destroyed by flooding, while the other two bridges to be mentioned in the Newsflyer have also disappeared mysteriously. How this happened will be featured here in the Chronicles’ Newsflyer.

Plaka Bridge in Greece Falls to Flooding

INOANNINA, GREECE: Located 400 km northwest of Athens, the Plaka Bridge was one of Greece’s prized treasures. Built in 1866 by Constantinos Bekas, this vaulted arch bridge spanned the Arachthos River, and tourists had an opportunity to view the beautiful and steep valley. Unfortunately, rainwaters swelled the river to the point where flooding wreaked havoc in the region. This bridge collapsed on Sunday as a result of  flooding. Photos from a local newspaper shows that the entire arch span fell into the water, leaving the abutments remaining. A video shows the bridge remains while a Bailey Truss Bridge was constructed to allow for one lane traffic to cross. While Tspiras is sending aid to the region as well as experts to determine the extent to the damage in the region, experts from a polytechnical university in Athens are being summoned to the region once the floodwaters subside to look at the bridge remains and produce a design for a replica of the bridge. This is the second bridge of its kind that has succumbed to either mother nature or man-made disasters. The Stari Most Bridge in Bosnia-Herzegovina was destroyed in the Yugoslavian Civil War in 1993. It took 11 years to rebuild the Ottoman structure. It is unknown how long it will take until the Plaka Bridge is rebuilt. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the developments.

Oblique view of the Hammond Railroad Bridge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Historic Bridge Illegally Destroyed for Scrap Metal

HAMMOND, INDIANA: Police and local officials are looking for a group of people responsible for the dismantling and demolition of an abandoned railroad bridge spanning the Grand Calumet River in Hammon. Ronald Novak, director of the Hammond .Department of Environmental Management received a tip from locals on Thursday of a group of people taking the bridge apart, which was located west of Hohmann Avenue, using bulldozers and other cutting tools to pull the main span into the river. The fallen span presents a double danger, where cresolate, a chemical used to coat wooden rail ties could dissolve in the river, and the steel structure itself could cause blockage of the river. The Army Corps of Engineers has been notified of the matter. It has been suspected that the crew tore the structure down not because of its abandonment for over a decade, but because of the scrap metal, whose value has been sitting high for many years. Because the demolition process was not approved by the City, your help is needed to find the people responsible for tearing down the bridge without permission. Any tips should be given to the police or the City as soon as possible. The 1909 railroad bridge itself was unique because it was a two-span Warren through truss bridge functioning as a Page bascule bridge. More information can be found here. With the Hammon Bridge destroyed, there is only one bridge of its kind left in the US, located in Chicago.

 

Abandoned Iowa Bridge Disappears

OSKALOOSA, IOWA:  Local pontists are looking for clues behind the disappearance of an iron through truss bridge spanning the North Skunk River at Yarnell Avenue, a half mile north of Iowa Hwy. 92. A product of the King Bridge Company, the Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal bracing had been abandoned for many years and was reported present in 2012. However upon recent visit by one of the pontists, the bridge disappeared. The question is now narrowed down to how the bridge disappeared, whether flooding washed it away or the bridge was torn down. More information is needed and leads should be posted in the bridgehunter.com website under Yarnell Avenue Bridge.

 

San Saba Railroad Bridge Restored and In Use

SAN SABA COUNTY, TEXAS: Spanning the Colorado River at the San Saba and Mills County border, this bridge received the Author’s Choice Award in 2013 after a fire burned the trestle approach span (all 800 of the 1050 feet bridge) to the ground. The good news is that the bridge has been rebuilt. JCF Bridge and Concrete Company, a local company, rebuilt the trestle last year in order for the Heart of Texas Railroad to resume rail service. A gallery of photos show the finished work, which you can see here. Made of steel and concrete, this portion of the bridge will allow trains to run heavier equipment across the river at moderate speed. As for the Warren through truss main span, that bridge was spared from the fire as well as the replacement process and can still be seen from US 190, just a half mile south of the bridge.

 

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BB Comer Bridge Update: Impartial Economic Survey to be Undertaken

Overview of the slough, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer

SCOTSBORO, ALABAMA- The clock is ticking as far as the future of the BB Comer Bridge is concerned. The replacement span is close to completion, and there are still some issues to settle as far as the future of the 1930 steel cantilever truss bridge is concerned. Apart from the ownership and liability, some further studies on the impact of keeping the historic bridge- among them economic, are being considered. As you can see in the most recent press release by the Comer Bridge Foundation, a grant is being sought so that an independent entity is hired to conduct an impartial economic survey, which will in turn persuade county officials to hand over ownership to the CBF once the new bridge is open to traffic. The date of the completion as well as the eventual demolition has not yet been set, however parties will have to act quickly but thoroughly to ensure that once the new bridge is open, the decision on the future of the old bridge will be made to benefit all the parties involved. More information on the progress of the bridge is in the press release below:

SCOTTSBORO, AL, January 30, 2015 — After the January 26, 2015, meeting of the Scottsboro City Council, the Comer Bridge Foundation (CBF) is now identifying and hiring an independent entity to prepare an economic impact study. The B.B. Comer Bridge crosses the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Alabama. An application for grant funding to assist with procuring the study will be submitted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to comply with the Trust’s deadline (February 2, 2015).

“We have determined that such a study is essential for CBF to show local citizens and governmental bodies how much the bridge can bring to the area, which in turn will help CBF gain eventual ownership of the bridge and prevent the bridge’s demolition. The timeline for demolition is not as tight as we anticipated, and we have time to explore how to lessen risks while growing the rewards of keeping the bridge intact,” explained CBF President Charles Holderfield.

“The study will solidify CBF’s commitment to saving, preserving and repurposing the bridge at an upcoming meeting of the Jackson County Commission,” said Holderfield.

In March 2014, CBF entered into a collaborative agreement with The N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association (NSRGA), another bridge-preservation group. Local attorneys Bill Tally and Justin Lackey represent CBF and NSRGA, respectively.

“The study will provide real numbers that support our plans to provide jobs, training and education in areas from hospitality, event management, security and maintenance,” shared Julie Bowers, executive director of Workin’ Bridges, the consulting arm of NSRGA. “The bridge can become a place to go for wellness and serenity, and a place where wildlife and human life are celebrated. Food, fun, music and historic preservation go hand-in-hand.”

The board of directors for CBF and NSRGA submitted a formal purchase plan to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), which currently owns the bridge. In September 2014, however, ALDOT informed the two organizations that the bridge could be sold only to a governmental entity. With support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Land Trust of North Alabama, Justin Lackey went before the Scottsboro City Council in mid-January 2015 to request that a tourism development authority be formed by the City to take ownership of the bridge. In addition to owning, leasing and developing land, improving and managing real estate and owning equipment, the authority could also employ personnel, execute documents, and accept and receive gifts from the public or private funds. It would also be able to apply for and receive federal grants.

The City Council members asked for additional time to study the request prior to its next regular meeting on January 26, at which time Lackey requested that the Council vote on the creation of the tourism development authority. The City deferred voting on the authority, with the majority of the Council members agreeing that the City could approve such an authority only in partnership with the County Commission. CBF will provide the economic impact study to the County Commission for review prior to formally requesting that the Commission consider partnering with the City Council to create the tourism development authority.

Comer Bridge, completed in 1930, is the last of the 15 memorial toll bridges enacted by legislation in 1927 that were built by the Kansas City Bridge Company but contracted through the Alabama State Bridge Corporation. Selected for the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in October 2013, the historic bridge will now be submitted for national recognition by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Certificate from the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

More updates on the BB Comer Bridge will be posted in the Chronicles as the story unfolds. In the meantime, you follow the events in real time, just by visiting  the CBF website at www.comerbridge.org and considering  liking CBF’s Friends of B.B. Comer Bridge at https://www.facebook.com/comerbridgefoundation. There you can find out more about how you can help save the bridge.

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Newsflyer: 20 January, 2015

Bridge collapses in Ohio- one dead, Bridge in Kansas City demolished, Two Arkansas bridges coming out, also one in Missouri.

Could we see a repeat of 2013? Judging by the number of bridges being demolished or being scheduled to be demolished, it seems that 2015 is reverting back to the days where the draconian mentality of replacing instead of fixing at the expense of tax payers is the norm. Yet, despite the massacre of over a dozen bridges at the beginning of 2013 and more throughout the year, the number of bridges scheduled to come out are much fewer. But some of the bridges that are targeted for demolition are the same ones that are being fought by preservationists to save them because of their historic value. With the collapse of an old Interstate bridge in Ohio last night though, that might provide a knee-jerk reaction among politicians and engineers to override the protests, as seen with the Linz Railroad Bridge in Austria. With more on that, here are the headlines:

Interstate Bridge in Cincinnati (Ohio) collapses- one dead.

CINCINNATI- Spanning Hopple Street carrying northbound Interstate 75, the 1960s style bridge was scheduled to be demolished after the new bridge opened to traffic weeks ago, and workers were already prepping the old structure to be removed from service. Little did they realized is that the bridge itself found its way to the dumpster earlier than expected. The structure collapsed at 10:30pm last night, as the main span dropped onto the street below, crushing everything like pancakes. A construction worker on the bridge was killed in the collapse. A truck driver going towards the bridge on Hopple Street slammed on the brakes as it collapsed, missing him by inches. The front of the semi truck sustained extensive damage but the driver survived with only minor injuries. According to Jeffrey Blackwell of the Cincinnati Police Department, it was a matter of just seconds, “and his fate would have been different.”   The collapse the bridge triggered the shutdown of the entire freeway, which will take days while crews clean-up the disaster. While there were no reports of any structural shortcomings with the bridge, investigations are being undertaken to determine how the bridge collapsed in the first place.  More on the article and photos of the collapse can be found via link here.

 

War Eagle Bridge in Danger!

BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS- Spanning War Eagle Creek in Benton County, Arkansas, this 1907 structure built by Illinois Steel, features a Parker through truss main span, three Waddel A-frame pony approaches made from scrap metal and another steel beam approach, making the bridge 183 feet long. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2010 at a cost of $600,000. Now the county is looking into options with the bridge, claiming that the bridge has problems worth $1.8 million. The options are to either make the repairs and leave the bridge open to traffic or replace the bridge on a new alignment, but keep the truss span in tact for pedestrian use. Both the bridge and its adjacent mill are considered historic landmarks by the National Register, but the bridge is only open for light vehicles only. How the future of this bridge will pan out remains to be seen. More information will follow on the Chronicles.

 

Eldorado Viaduct to be demolished

EL DORADO, ARKANSAS- There is something special about this bridge, spanning the railroad yard, spanning Hillsboro Street in El Dorado. The bridge was built in 1935 by Fred Luttjohann, a local engineer from Topeka, Kansas, and features an arch span, several T-beam spans, concrete ballustrades and a length of over 980 feet. A candidate for the National Register, this bridge is loved by many in the city. Yet the city council has voted to demolish the structure in favor of its replacement. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to take place in the summer. For more on the bridge and to view the pictures, please click here.

 

Fairfax Bridge demolished. Replacement bridge to come.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI- The Chronicles did a report last fall about the replacement of the Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges, spanning the Missouri River carrying US Hwy. 69 between Kansas and Missouri. The plan of merging two separate bridges into one large six-lane bridge by 2016 moved forward on Friday, when the 1935 truss bridge that had once carried the southbound portion of the highway imploded, sending the bridge’s spans into the water. Crews are in the process of removing the bridge remains from the river, cutting up the parts for scrap. Once completed, the new span will be constructed. The 1957 Platte Purchase Bridge will be demolished towards the beginning of next year, once the new southbound portion opens to traffic. Photos of the Fairfax Bridge demolition can be found here.

New Chain of Rocks Bridge to be demolished.

GRANITE CITY, ILLINOIS- Built in 1963, the twin cantilever Warren through truss spans once carried the Chain of Rocks Canal (the canal arm of the Mississippi River) east of St. Louis, carrying I-270 that surrounds the metropolis. Micheal Dean used one of the photos taken by the author for his 2012 album, which fits to his style of music. Now this bridge will soon become a distant memory. After the completion of the concrete spans in December, the twin cantilever bridges will come down beginning January 20th. The process is expected to last through the end of February.

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2014 Ammann Awards: Results Part Two

Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, UK. Photo taken by Laura Hilton

Picking up after leaving off Part I and the Author’s Choice Awards, we now move onto the next category of Bridge of the Year 2014.  Several bridges nominated for this award because of their golden anniversary celebrated this past year became disappointments in the voting stats. Among them include the Tower Bridge (which turned 120 years old), the Forth Bridges (the suspension bridge turned 50 years old) and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (which also turned 50). Yet none of the bridges stood a match against the winner of the Bridge of the Year Award- the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon in Bristol (the UK). It turned 150 years old in December and was the masterpiece of Ishambard Kingdom Brunel, who started this bridge (and his career) 30+ years earlier but died shortly before its completion. The bridge was mentioned even in the comment section when the ballot was finished and ready to vote in December. How did it do with second place Fehmarn Bridge in Germany and third place Firth of Forth Bridges? Look at the results below and see how much loving this chain suspension bridge spanning the high gorge got in the voting process:

FINAL RESULTS.

1. Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol (UK):  67 votes  (77%)

2. Fehmarn Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein (Germany): 8 votes (9%)

3. Firth of Forth Bridges in Scotland (UK): 5  votes (6%)

Raven Rock Bridge in New Jersey. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

In the category of Best Preservation example, there was a tight race among seven candidates battling for first and second places. However in the end, the Raven Rock Bridge in Huntderton County, New Jersey edged out the Red Bridge in Kansas City and the Freedom Prime Bridge in Indiana for the award. The bridge is one of the oldest in the state and was dismantled, sandblasted and repainted before being reassembled on a new concrete decking, all during the summer. The bridge looks just like new with the railing and decking being the only differences. Impressive enough for the award. :-)

FINAL RESULTS:

1. Raven Rock Bridge in New Jersey 5 (26%)

2. Red Bridge in Kansas City 4 (21%)

3. Freedom Prime Bridge in Indiana 3 (16%)

Monk’s Bridge at Ballasalla, Isle of Man, UK Photo submitted by Liz Boakes

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge

There were many really good bridge candidates in this category, regardless of whether it was in the US category or the International one. That was the primary reason for the rather low voter turnout because of the difficulty in deciding which ones deserved the awards. But in the end, the winner has to be determined, right? In the US category, we have the Independence Bowstring Arch Bridge, an abandoned King Bridge Company structure that has been abandoned for many years, but after winning the award, will most likely receive some attention regarding its reuse. It edged the Fort Morgan Rainbow Arch Bridge in Colorado by three votes and two bridges by four votes to win the title.

FINAL RESULTS USA CATEGORY:

1. Independence Bowstring Arch Bridge 6 votes (43%)

2. Ft. Morgan Rainbow Arch Bridge in Colorado 3 votes (21%)

T 3. Backyard Bridge in Packwood, Washington and Powwow Polygonal Truss Bridge in Amesbury, Massachusetts  2 votes (14%)

In the international subcategory, the results of this award were really tight, for each candidate received at least one vote. In the end, the Monks Bridge on the British Isle of Man won the award, followed by the Pont de Langlois in France and the Swimming Bridge in Wuppertal in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Here are the results:

INTERNATIONAL:

1. Monks Bridge on the Isle of Man in the UK- 4 votes (33%)

2. Pont de Langlois in France- 3 votes (25%)

3. Swimming Bridge in Wuppertal, Germany- 2 votes (17%)

In the all around category, the Monks Bridge finishes second behind the winner, the Independence Bowstring Arch Bridge, with the Pont de Langlois and Ft. Morgan Bridge finishing tied for third.

Ely Stret Bridge in Bertram

 

Best Kept Secret- City Tour Guide

The final category for the 2014 Ammann Awards is the City Tour Guide, awarded to the city and/or region with a high number of unique (historic) bridges worth visiting. Some of them have been mentioned in the Chronicles, yet other places to visit have been recommended by other websites, including some city websites. This year’s category featured a big upset in the USA category, as the historic bridges located in Bertram, Iowa (east of Cedar Rapids) upended Chicago and Pittsburgh for the title, whereas in the international category, Manchester (the UK) won the award, beating out Budapest and Sault Sainte Marie. Despite losing the Ely Street Bridge to flooding, Bertram has a wide selection of pre-1910 truss bridges located within a 10-mile radius, many of whom were built by local bridge contractors. Manchester has a wider selection of historic and modern bridges, whose designs are very appealing to the tourists. Both communities also share the title in the all around division as well, beating Chicago and third place Pittsburgh and Budapest.

FINAL RESULTS:

USA

1. Bertram, Iowa- 5 votes  (33%)

2. Chicago- 4 votes (27%)

3. Pittsburgh- 3 votes (20%)

 

INTERNATIONAL

1. Manchester- 5 votes  (42%)

2. Budapest- 3 votes (25%)

3. Sault Ste. Marie- 2 votes  (17%)

 

ALL AROUND:

T1. Bertram and Manchester

2. Chicago

T3. Pittsburgh and Budapest

This sums up the 2014 Ammann Awards. The next time we start nominating and voting will be at the beginning of November. Please check the page on the Chronicles to find out when nominations are being accepted. In case you want to provide feedback on this voting process, please do so either in the comment section or by sending an e-mail directly to the author. Otherwise, get the cameras going and start finding some bridges worthy of this year’s results. Happy Bridgehunting and thanks for voting. :-)

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