Newsflyer 13 September 2013

Chicago and Great Western Bridge in Des Moines- now a distant memory. Photo taken in August 2011

Iowa railroad bridge now history; another Mississippi River crossing to be demolished; Riverside Bridge example being taken on by other bridge groups?

Do you know of a historic bridge that you wanted to photograph but you could not because it was gone before you had a chance to visit it? Many people have these bridges on their places to visit list but when they visit them, end up with a piece of metal as a souvenir because it ended up in the dumpster. And one can imagine the reactions that these people had when this happens: “If I would have bleeping known that it was going to be demolished, I would have bleeping done this and bleeping done that……” as one of the pontists explicitely did while we were on tour of some bridges in western Ohio in 2010.

There have been several bridges in the US alone this year that has fallen into one category or the other, many of which have already been mentioned in the Newsflyer. But there are some that are doomed, but there is still a chance to see them while they still are standing, even though in the case of a couple bridges, the decision to replace instead of rehabilitate have reasons that are questionable. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a round of unfortunate events here in this Newsflyer for Friday the 13th.

 

CGW Bridge finally gone.

The City of Des Moines has a wide collection of bridges, historical and fancy, spanning the Raccoon and Des Moines River for over 130 years. Unfortunately, this bridge (as seen in the picture above) is no longer one of them. Two days ago on the 12th anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on New York and Washington, the last of the four spans of the Chicago  Great Western Bridge spanning the Des Moines River south of the confluence with the Raccoon River was pulled down with hundreds of spectators watching from the Scott Avenue Bridge. A link to the video can be found here.  The 1887 bridge had been abandoned since 2001, and plans were in the works to incorporate the Pratt through truss bridges with a 15° skew into the bike trail network. Yet a series of unfortunate events sealed the bridge’s fate, starting with the flood of 2008 and 2011 combined with a series of arsons which substantially damaged the bridge’s deck and piers. The plan to raise the dikes and bridges to ease the flooding along the Des Moines River sealed the railroad bridge’s fate, as work commenced in the Summer of last year to tear down the bridge. The Chronicles was the first to report on this development as unusual activity was reported which caused the first westernmost span to collapse. It was later reported that the bridge was being removed. When the bridge was reduced to one span on the east end of the river by fall, there was hope that the bridge, which was handed back over to the City of Des Moines after the demolition contractor canceled his contract to demolish and remove the entire structure, there was hope that the bridge could either be relocated for reuse or converted into the pier. A facebook page promoting the preservation of the last span was created earlier this year, but it was taken down recently. It was also present at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend. But in the end, it had to go. Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the bridge, commenced with the dismantling of the bridge and with one screeching fall, the span ended in the river.  It will take until the end of this year to remove the steel and piers. Then the bridge will be all but a memory. John Marvig visited the bridge multiple times and has photographed the bridge when it was being removed. A link can be found here with information on the bridge’s history.

 

Sylvan Island Bridge to come down

Located in Moline, which is part of the Quad Cities, and spanning the Sylvan Slough, which was part of the Mississippi River, this 1901 two-span Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings provided people with the only link to Sylvan Island from Moline. That was until earlier in May of this year, when concerns over the bridge bouncing when crossing led to it being closed and fenced off to all traffic. Now the bridge’s fate appears to be sealed as the city hired a contractor to tear down the structure and replace it with a more modern one. When the bridge will come down is unknown, but the window is closing fast for those wanting to see it before it becomes history. The decision to tear down the bridge has led to two questions: 1. Does a bouncing bridge really justify the need to replace it or if it is just a knee-jerk reaction in the name of liability, and 2. What will the future hold for the other bridge located at Sylvan Island: an 1869 Whipple through truss bridge that was brought in from Burlington to serve rail traffic until its abandonment?  Both of these questions are being pursued, and the Chronicles will keep you posted.

 

Reasonability versus Radicalism involving a pair of New Hampshire bridges

The Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh Bridges are two identical green 1920 Parker through truss spans that carry NH Hwy. 119 over the Connecticut River and its island connecting Battleboro and Hinsdale. Both are considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But sadly both are too narrow and need to be replaced. Replacement plans have been in the works  for over 20 years, but one person tried to quicken the process by vandalizing the bridge. Mike Mulligan was arrested for pulling the wooden planks from the pedestrian boardwalk and causing additional damage to the structure as a way of justifying the need to replace the bridge. He was later released with a restraining order that he stays away from the bridge and if he needs to cross it, he must not get out of the car. Mr. Mulligan recently used James Baughn’s Bridgehunter website to justify his actions, which turned into a philosophical discussion involving the bounciness and the oil for the wheel. Needless to say he did not receive any support but he is in the running for the 2013 Smith Awards in the category “Dumbest Reason to Destroy a Bridge.” A link to the Charles Dana Bridge with the dialogue in the comment section can be found here.  As for the bridges themselves, they are scheduled to be replaced but plans are in the making to convert these bridges into pedestrian crossings. But it will take 3-5 years before work actually begins, given the current budget situation in New Hampshire.  Sorry Mike, but you have to deal with the current situation and grin and bear it. It’s better than going to jail and paying dearly for vandalism.

 

Rehabilitation or Replacement? Dilemma with the Tunnel/Bridge

Blue Earth County in south central Minnesota has one of the highest number of historic bridges in the state of Minnesota. Or given the trend that has occurred in the last two decades, it had one of the highest number of pre 1950 bridges. And if things go in the way of the county engineer, another bridge, a 20 foot long and 36 foot wide tunnel/bridge, which spans Minneopa Creek at the State Park near Mankato will be altered beyond recognition. Built in 1876, the arch bridge carries a railroad and county road but is unique because the tunnel shifts at a 45° angle. The county plans to replace the road version but it is unknown whether the railroad portion will also be replaced. The reason for the plan is because the stone arch was deteriorating. Can a stone arch deteriorate and if so how? This question will be pursued in hopes there will be some concrete answers to be posted in the future. In the meantime, attempts are being made to nominate the bridge onto the National Register and address the need to preserve the bridge. More information on that will come.

Blue Earth County built a high number of Marsh Arch bridges and iron bridges built by the Wrough Iron and Bridge Company. This includes the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, the longest of its kind in the country and second longest in the world behind the Blackfriars Bridge in Ontario (Canada). A tour of the bridges will be provided in the Chronicles.

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2 Responses to Newsflyer 13 September 2013

  1. Mr. Smith,

    You fundamentally don’t know the long problems with the NHDOT and the politicization of our NH transportation system. This guy has had repeated studies and reports about replacing thesebridge since 1978. You could have built three bridges with the cost of all these reports. We been on the ten year wish list many times in 30 years…we have been over the same territory over and over again with the dysfunction and over prescribed ten year list. Our 1921 bridge is not going to get replaced for 50 Year.

    Remember the nails and screws on those planks had completely rusted away and there was nothing attaching the boards to the bridge. This is the way we in NH get the NHDOT to fix our bridges. I was the first person in the history of NH who repaired a state owned bridge, and got arrested for it to boot. Those boards were firmly nailed to the bridge next day by the NHDOT. I damage no other component of the damaged bridge.

    Here is an example of how horrid the NHDOT is. On Sept 12 of last week, we local people got the treat of watching the NHDOT washing last winter’s salt off this bridge through a huge water tanker truck. What is wrong with this picture?

    Mike
    16032094206

    • I sympathize with you in respect that you are trying to make a statement. But don’t you think that by addressing the issue to the local authorities that something could be done with the bridge? Even if you have public involvement, it’s more legal than taking the law into your own hands. I would have done it and provided evidence in the form of pictures and eyewitnesses as a way of telling people to fix and better maintain the bridge. Remember, it’s not the size and functionality of the bridge that counts, it’s how you maintain it properly and if something is in doubt you have the authorities check it out. It’s that simple…..

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