2014 Ammann Awards for Bridge of the Year/ Lifetime Achievement

Entering the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York City- one of the candidates for Bridge of the Year. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Here’s a summary of the nominees for the 2014 Ammann Awards with links to learn more about them. This will help you in your voting process. After reading the summaries, click on the links to vote.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:  https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495827/

BRIDGE OF THE YEAR: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495844/

Lifetime Achievement:

James Baughn: Since 2002, James Baughn has run his website entitled Bridgehunter.com. First focused on historic bridges of the midwestern part of the US, his website now has a databank of over 40,000 bridges, 80% featuring photos from over 170 contributors, including the author of the Chronicles. Baughn hosts the TRUSS Awards every February, where historic bridges threatened with demolition are recognized, giving locals and other preservationists more fuel to save the bridge. More on his website here: http://bridgehunter.com/

Jet Lowe: An avid photographer, Jet has photographed thousands of historic bridges, big or small in the past 30+ years, while working for the Washington-based Historic American Engineering Record, a subsidiary of the National Park Service. More about him, you’ll find here:  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=Jet%20Lowe He submitted a photo of the Millau Viaduct for this year’s Best Photo Award.

Nathan Holth: At 28 years of age, Nathan Holth is the youngest candidate for this award. And that is no surprise, for his website, HistoricBridges.org, which has been in syndication since 2003, features nearly 4,000 bridges in North America (all fully photographed), web pages with guides on how to preserve historic bridges and his famous Wall of Shame, a list of historic bridges of high value that were scrapped senselessly, without looking at other alternatives to saving them. More on him can be found at his website here: http://historicbridges.org/

Nels Raynor of BACH Steel: With over three decades of work, Mr. Raynor has had a lot of accomplishments under his belt not only as far as restoring historic bridges are concerned, but also teaching many how to do it, so they can try it as well. More about him and his company here: http://bachsteel.com/

Friends of Bunker Mill Bridge: Consisting of several dedicated people of all ages, this group of preservationists have gone all out in saving the Bunker Mill Bridge outside Kalona, the bridge that was badly damaged in a fire in August 2013 but they are working to rebuild. This includes hosting open air concerts and having a small shop at the bridge, with money raised going to the rebuilding efforts. Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/582901311753226/

Bridge of the Year:

Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York City: Built in 1964, this bridge was the last engineering work of Othmar H. Ammann, who died eight months later in March 1965. It still holds the title of the longest suspension bridge in the US after 50 years, but who knows for how long…. Link: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/history-verrazano-narrows-bridge-50-years-after-its-construction-180953032/?no-ist

Fehmarn Bridge in Germany:  Connecting the German mainland with the largest island in Europe, this 51-year old bridge was the first of its kind to introduce the now popular basket-handle arch bridge. That is why residents are fighting the attempts by the German Railways and the state to replace it with a tunnel and tear this “Merkmal des Insels” down. More here. A petition to save the bridge and block a proposal for three bridges can be found here.

Linz Railroad Bridge in Austria: The three-span steel bridge, built in 1912 and spanning the Danube River, has been a focus of a struggle between the modernists of the Social Democrats and Mayor Luger who want the bridge replaced and the preservationists and citizens who want the bridge saved, or at least bring the referendum on the bridge’s future to the attention of the city. Link: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2014/08/05/linz-railroad-bridge-preservation-interview/

Goodwill Bridge in Brisbane in Australia: We have bungee jumping, and we have bungee swinging, from one of the fanciest bridges in Australia. Link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_Bridge

Raven Rock Bridge in New Jersey: One of the rarest iron bridges left in the country, this 1874 bridge is the oldest in the state. Luckily for residents, this bridge underwent some renovation this summer and will remain in service for decades to come. Link: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=newjersey/ravenrock/

Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol:  Before John Roebling built the first wire suspension bridges in Cincinnati and Brooklyn, Ishmail Brunel built the highest and longest chain suspension bridge over the River Avon. It was his first solo project for the engineer but died before the bridge opened in December 1864. This year marks the 150th birthday of one of England’s beloved bridges. Link: Clifton Suspension Bridge Homepage

Firth of Forth Bridges in Scotland: The duo crossings feature two unique bridges: the first steel cantilever truss bridge opened in 1890 and is scheduled to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a roadway  suspension bridge built next to it and is 50 years old this year. You can see the photos submitted by Mark Watson in the category of Best Photo. More about the history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge

Tower Bridge in London: This bridge is perhaps the cornerstone of bridges built during the Victorian era, as it was built in 1894 and features a combination suspension and draw bridge. It just celebrated its 120th birthday this summer and now has a new glass platform where people can look down from the towers. More here: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/

Natchez Trace Parkway at Birdsong Hollow, TN: This soon-to-be 20-year old bridge is unique not only because of its design and its conformity to the environment, but also its height above the Harpeth River Valley- 150 feet above the valley floor. Calvin Snead has a brief summary on this bridge here.

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2014 Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret/ Tour Guide

Pont de l’Anglos in France. One of the Best Kept Secret candidates. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langlois_Bridge

Here are the list of candidates for the 2014 Ammann Awards in the category of Best Kept Secret in the areas of individual bridges and regions with a high number of historic and aesthetically significant bridges. Have a look at the summary and links of the candidates before voting using the links below:


USA:  https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495852/

International: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495855/


USA: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495856/

International: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495861/





Independence Bowstring Arch Bridge in Independence, Kansas- Built in 1871, this iron bowstring arch bridge is an earlier work of the King Bridge Company in Cleveland, OH. The bridge has been abandoned since 1964 but given its proximity to the city of Independence, it may have an afterlife in a few years. Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ks/montgomery/independence-bowstring/

Front Yard Bridge in Packwood, Washington: Photographer and pontist K.A. Erickson found this bridge sitting on the lawn of a property owner, who purchased the bridge and had it relocated to its present spot. Given the railing features, the concrete bridge dates back to 1915.

Fort Morgan Rainbow Arch Bridge in Colorado: Built in 1923, this 11-span Marsh arch bridge with a total span of 1,100 feet was the longest bridge of its kind when it was built. It has been converted to a pedestrian crossing, providing walkers and bikers with a splendid view of the South Platt River. Link: http://bridgehunter.com/co/morgan/fort-morgan/

Powwow River Polygonal Truss Bridge in Amesbury, MA: This bridge is one of the smallest polygonal through truss bridges ever built. It is a question of what truss design it features. More here.

Clarendon White River Bridge in Monroe County, AR: Spanning the White River, the Clarendon Bridge is one of three sister bridges spanning the White River in Arkansas. Yet the cantilever truss bridge’s future is in doubt as a replacement bridge is being built. Yet efforts are being made to preserve and restore it for bike trail use. More here.

Cincinnati Municipal Water Intake Half Bridge in KY: Located on the Ohio River, this bridge is unusual for it features one through truss leading to a municipal waterworks tower in the middle of the river. This tower helps provide water to nearby Cincinnati. Link: http://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=kentucky/intake/


River Durme Bridge in Hamme, Belgium- This bridge has a history in itself as it featured a three-span curved Town lattice pony truss bridge, carrying rail traffic and built in ca. 1870. Yet the center span of the bridge was destroyed by German troops during World War I and was subsequentially replaced with a swing span with Warren truss features. This bridge still serves traffic today.

Monks Bridge on the Isle of Man (the UK)- Located in the northernmost province of the United Kingdom, this bridge features one of the oldest examples of stone arches designed gothically. Possibly built during the Roman era, this bridge is one of the oldest existent structures in the British Isles.

Oschutztal Viaduct in Weida, Germany- Located in the German state of Thuringia, this iron deck Town Lattice deck truss bridge spans the valley where the village of Weida is located. Once serving rail traffic connecting Greiz and Gera, the bridge was abandoned in the 1980s but plans are in the making to repurpose the structure for recreational purposes, especially as it just turned 130 years old this year. Link with photos: http://www.viadukt-weida.de/

Lindaunis Schlei Drawbridge in Eckerfoerde, Germany- Located in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, this combination Strauss Bascule pony truss bridge and Warren bedstead through truss approach span was built in 1927 and serves rail traffic between Kiel and Flensburg. Yet its future is in doubt as plans are underway to replace the structure. More here.

Swimming Bridge in Wuppertal, Germany- Located in North Rhine-Westphalia near Dortmund, this bridge is a primitive version of the pontoon bridge, with a catwalk being supported by boats. More here.

Pont de Langlois / pont Van Gogh, Arles – Bouche-du-Rhône; France- Spanning a small canal in Arles, France, this bridge was the subject of many paintings by Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh. A replica of the double leaf bascule bridge retains its original form and is still a popular attraction today. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langlois_Bridge



The Bridges of Berlin, Germany: There is something mystical about the bridges serving Germany’s capital as spans ranging all the way back to the 1700s can be found here, as well as those barricaded by the Berlin Wall. Link: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2014/12/11/berlin-the-bridges-and-the-wall/ 

The Bridges of Prague, Czech Republic: Over three dozen bridges can be found in the Czech capital, most of them over the Charles River, including the city’s beloved Charles Bridge, built in the Medieval period and still attracts many tourists. Link: http://www.1pragueguide.com/bridges-in-prague

The Bridges of Budapest, Hungary: The Danube divides the Hungarian capital into Buda and Pest, but several crossings, including the Chain Suspension Bridge, Margaret’s Bridge, Liberty Truss Bridge and Langomanyos Bridge tie the city together. Link:  http://www.bridgesofbudapest.com/

The Bridges of Manchester, Great Britain: Once known as one of the dirtiest industrial towns in England, the second largest city behind London is now a huge financial hub, with several bridges, like the Salford Quay, the Blackfriar’s and Albert Bridges connecting the districts. Link: http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/bridges.html

The Bridges of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan/Ontario: If one thinks of Sault Ste. Marie, one can think of the International Bridges and their double-arches. Yet, there are at least seven more bridges to see on both sides of the border when looking down from the viaduct. This includes two steel arches and a multiple-span steel truss bridge with a vertical lift span, just to name a few. More on the bridges here.



The Bridges of Grand Rapids, Michigan: Located on the Grand River in western Michigan, this city features several historic truss and arch bridges, most of which have been restored and are being used as pedestrian crossings. They are also photo-friendly. Link: http://historicbridges.org/b_a_county.php?county=Kent%20County,%20Michigan

The Bridges of Pittsburgh: The city has a lot to be proud of, apart from the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. The second largest city has a wide array of historic bridges spanning three rivers, among them: the Smithfield, Hot Metal, Warhol, Carson, Clemente, Dusquene, Fort Pitt, Manchester, and Point Bridges, just to name a few. The Pittsburgh Gazette did a series on these bridges which you can view here: http://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/bridges/monongahela/

The Bridges of Doniphan County, Kansas: Located west of St Joseph, this county features a variety of unusual bridges, reused with parts salvaged from other structures. More here.

The Bridges of Bertram, Iowa: Located east of Cedar Rapids, this community has a wide selection of truss bridges dating back to 1885, including the now destroyed Ely Street Bridge. More on the bridges here.

The Bridges of Miami County, Kansas: This county features several truss bridges, including the reverse Parker truss bridge, several arch bridges and two Marsh Arch bridges. It is perhaps the most populous in the state when it comes to historic bridges. Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ks/miami/

The Bridges of Chicago: The windy city has one of the most populous swing and bascule bridges in the world. And this is only part of the story: http://chicagoloopbridges.com/ and http://www.historicbridges.org/b_c_il_cook.htm

The Bridges of Camden State Park in Minnesota: Located southwest of Marshall in Lyon County, the park features remnants of the village of Camden, located in the Redwood River valley. This includes the bridges serving the park, all but one of which are scheduled to be replaced in the near future. More here.

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2014 Ammann Awards for Mystery Bridge

Photo taken by Sam and Anna Smith in 2012

Here are the list of candidates for the 2014 Ammann Awards in the Category of Mystery Bridges. Click on the links to each of the candidates and have a look at them before voting here:

USA: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495871/

Imnternational: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8495873/


USA Candidates:

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2014 Ammann Awards for Best Example of Restored Historic Bridge

Cherry Street Bridge in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). One of the Candidates for Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. Photo taken by Roger Deschner.

Here is a list of candidates and their summaries for the 2014 Ammann Awards in the category Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. Each summary features work that was done on the bridge. This will be useful when you vote for your favorite candidate, which you can click on this link below:


Cherry Street Bridge in Toronto, Canada: This 1930 Strauss Bascule Bridge features a Warren bedstead through truss with riveted connections. The bridge was rehabilitated for two years between 2012 and this year and featured the replacement of the trunnion as well as some bridge parts and decking. More on this complicated task here.

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

Raven Rock Bridge in Hunterdon County, New Jersey: Built in 1878 by a local bridge builder, this cast iron through truss bridge is also nominated for Bridge of the Year. The 130-foot long bridge was rehabilitated this year when it was disassembled, sandblasted and reassembled onto new abutments and received a new deck. Bridge looks like new, as seen in the article here.

Poughkeepsie Viaduct over the Hudson River in New York State. HABS/HAER


Poughkeepsie Viaduct in New York:  Spanning the Hudson River between New York Poughkeepsie and Highland this 1889 iron cantilever deck truss bridge once served a rail line until its closure in 1974. After being abandoned for over 30 years, it was restored for pedestrian traffic in 2009 and has become the longest and largest pedestrian bridge in the world. It became a poster boy for other examples for other long-span bridges to be restored. If this bridge wins here, it would be long overdue.

Waterford Truss Bridge near Farmington, MN Photo taken by Healy Construction and submitted by Julie Bowers

Waterford Bridge in Minnesota: Spanning the Cannon River near Northfield, this Camelback through truss bridge was one of the finest works of the Hennepin Bridge Company, owned by a family of bridge builders. Apart from the need to integrate it into the bike trail network, this is one of many key reasons why new abutments and wing walls were needed for the bridge, which was done earlier this year. You’ll find a photo of the bridge under the category of Best Photo.

Red Bridge in Kansas City. Photo taken in August 2011

Red Bridge in Kansas City, MO: Built in 1932, this bridge is unique because of its curved truss design, which is unusual for bridge construction. Once carrying US Hwy. 50 before it was realigned onto the new bridge (converting it to local traffic), this structure received new life for the third time this year when it was converted to a bike/pedestrian bridge, integrating it into a nearby park. That park now has a wonderful masterpiece with a lot of history to share.  More on this bridge can be found here.

Freedom Prime Bridge at its original location in Owen County, prior to its relocation. HABS HAER

Freedom Prime Bridge in Indiana:  Here’s a rarity one will never see again in this lifetime: A 300-foot Pennsylvania petit through truss bridge being relocated from Owen County to Delphi, restored on site and hoisted onto its new foundations: over a major highway. Someone must’ve read about the successes of Silverdale Bridge in Minnesota and found ways to make it happen here. Typical of Indiana but rare for a bridge this size:  Link: http://www.jconline.com/videos/news/local/indiana/2014/09/09/15348403/


Saline River Bridge at US Hwy. 183. Photo taken by Robert Elder

Saline River Bridge at US Hwy. 183 in Kansas: This 600 foot long, seven span open spandrel arch bridge was made obsolete by a newer crossing this year and but left in place, to be used as a bike trail. While more work is likely needed in the future, this step is the biggest and will garner more attention from tourists who want to visit and photograph the bridge in the future. Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ks/ellis/saline-183/

Devil’s Elbow Bridge before its much-needed rehabilitation. Photo by James Baughn











Devil’s Elbow Bridge in Missouri: Once part of the Mother Road, Route 66, this 1923 two-span through truss bridge underwent extensive repairs during the year, which includes new decking and truss parts so that it can be open to traffic again. This bridge is located in Pulaski County and an overview of the project, completed in May, can be found here:


Vischr’s Ferry Bridge in New York State. Photo taken by Marc Scotti

Vischer’s Ferry Bridge at Erie Canal in New York: Spanning the second Erie Canal, this Whipple Bowstring Arch Bridge was rehabilitated by rebuilding the abutments using limestone and replacing the decking. A rather simple task but one that will keep the pedestrian crossing in place for generations to come.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 52: The Bridge from Brazil

Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Here’s a pop quiz for you readers, with regards to this mystery bridge:

1. When was the oldest swing bridge in the US ever built and

2. When was the first time a bridge was ever relocated in the US?

This Mystery Bridge takes you to Florida and in particular, this bridge. Located over the Suwannee River at the Lafayette and Suwannee County border, the Drew Bridge features a swing bridge with a Warren through truss design. The name Drew comes from a family that consisted of George Franklin Drew, who governed Florida from 1877 to 1881, and his sons, George L. Drew and Franklin Drew, who operated a lumber business near the site of the bridge and purchasd a large segment of the Suwannee and San Pedro Railroad in 1899 and extended the line to Mayo, to accomodate their business. They purchased this bridge, located somewhere in Brazil, in 1900 and  was put into service after being transported to its current site  in 1901. It served traffic until the railroad was abandoned due to competition in 1921. Since that time, the bridge has been sitting abandoned in an open position. The bridge was named after the elder Drew, who died in 1900.

Nathan Holth visited the bridge earlier this year and is looking for some information as to the date of the construction, the bridge builder, and whereabouts is the bridge located. The reason for this (and one can see it through the information and photos he took on the trip) are the features of the bridge- both in terms of portal and strut bracings as well as the way the bridge was constructed, both in terms of materials used as well as the how the bridge parts were assembled (and reassembled upon its relocation. It is clear that the bridge has been in its current location for 113 years. However, the inscriptioions on the steel, combined with the design have it being pointed to the construction date of between 1870 and 1885. More information can be found via link here:

Link: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=florida/drewbridge/

If you have any information that is important to the research on this bridge, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact information on his website. You can also place your comments here for readers to read.

Because of its unique design and history, the Drew Bridge is one of the candidates for this year’s Ammann Awards in its respective category. :-)


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Fehmarn Bridge in Germany: At the Crossroads between Preservation and Progress

FEHMARN ISLAND, GERMANY-  Connecting Fehmarn Island with mainland Germany in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, the Fehmarn Bridge is unique in three different ways: its historic value, its touristic value to the region and lastly, its infrastructural value.

The bridge was built in 1963, using the very first bridge design conceptualized by an engineering firm in Oberhausen, in North Rhine-Westphalia: the basket-weave tied arch bridge. The arch design features two arches that meet at the center of the span above the roadway, with a network of diagonal beams supporting the arches. The concept of connecting Fehmarn Island with the rest of Germany was introduced in 1912, yet the plan was first realized when the Organization Todt began construction on a combination roadway/railway crossing in 1941, shortly after the Nazis had occupied Denmark thus enlarging its empire. The cost for the investment was 8 million Reichsmarks. The project was halted in 1942 and would not be continued until 1960, when the construction firm of C.H. Jucho, Felten & Guilleaume und Flender, restarted the project with G. Fischer, T. Jahnke und P. Stein of the company Gutehoffnungshütte Sterkrade AG of  Oberhausen-Sterkrade designing the blueprint of the bridge, and Gerd Hofmann masterminding the architectural aspect. It took three years to complete the project. Originally scheduled to open on 30 April, 1963, it had to be open to restricted traffic in January for ferry service was suspended due to a harsh winter. Crossing the bridge required a special permit for construction was not yet completed. This was lifted when the bridge opened to traffic at the end of April. The bridge has a double function of being a highway bridge and a railway bridge all in one, both serving the purpose of connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen.  The total length of the bridge is 1400 meters. 900 meters consisted of the bridge itself with the basket-handle tied arch span having a length of 350 meters. The rest of the length consists of approach spans, including an arch span over a road connecting Avendorf with Strukkamp.

Since its inception, many engineers have looked to the Fehmarn Bridge as reference, giving them some ideas on how to construct similar spans. Already planned are the new Bettendorf spans over the Mississippi River at the Quad Cities (replacing the twin suspension spans) as well as the Levansau Bridge over the Baltic-North Sea Canal near Kiel, using the basket-handle spans similar to the one at Fehmarn. The Fehmarn Bridge is one of the main attractions for tourists and one can see the bridge on any souvenir item available. Even the streets of Burg and its boroughs have houses decorated with the lighted Fehmarn Bridge emblem.  And most recently, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles introduced the bridge as part of its new logo, a measure well-received by residents of Fehmarn Island as well as in the bridge and preservation communities.

Despite this, the future of the 51-year old bridge is up in the air. Plans are in the making to widen the roadway and upgrade it to motorway status. This is part of the plan to create an industrial area on the island, the proposal that has been met with opposition from residents and people associated with the island alike. According to Karin Neumann, spokesperson for the initiative “Bewahrt Fehmarn” (English: Preserve Fehmarn), the industrial group Baltic FS, a German-based group, wants to create an industrial Areal where warehouses, a industrial storage facility and factories would be created on 15 hectares of land on the island. In addition, the motorway will feature a new tunnel connecting Fehmarn with Denmark, thus eliminating the need for ferry service between Rodby (Denmark) and Puttgarden. And finally, the German Railways (Die Bahn), with support from the German Ministry of Transportation in Berlin is working together to construct a replacement for the Fehmarn Bridge. Proposals include:

  1. Three bridges while keeping the Fehmarn Bridge- one for rail traffic, one for the motorway and one for local traffic,
  2. A tunnel for motorway and rail traffic while keeping the bridge
  3. Two bridges for rail and motorway traffic but the Fehmarn Bridge would be removed.

The options were presented in August with meetings taking place in Berlin and Oldenburg (the administrative district where Fehmarn Island belong to) in September. Despite claims by die Bahn that no one would want the bridge after it is replaced, thus justifying the need to demolish the bridge, the proposal to tear down the Fehmarn Bridge was met with a protest similar to Hurricane Katrin slamming New Orleans in 2005. Local authorities and people associated with the bridge objected to the demolition proposals forcefully, claiming that Die Bahn was short-sighted and as inconsiderate as a bully in kindergarten.  Apart from wanting to keep the bridge as a tourist attraction and key bicycle and pedestrian crossing between Fehmarn and Grossenbrode, the bridge is protected by the state preservation laws of Schleswig-Holstein as it is considered a technical historic landmark. In addition, an agreement between the states of Germany and Denmark signed at the time of the bridge’s construction stated that the connection between mainland Germany and Denmark via Fehmarn Island is to remain two lanes for automobile traffic and one track for railroad traffic. According to Neumann and other sources, the agreement would need to be replaced should both Germany and Denmark want a motorway connection. But most importantly, as Neumann stated in an interview with the Chronicles, having three bridges as well as the Areal would degrade the natural and tourist value of the island, which according to latest figures, 2.5 million tourists from Germany, Denmark and elsewhere take their vacation on the island annually, and even though the total population of the inhabitants is roughly 30,000 year round, at least triple the number are on the island in the summer time, mostly for the purpose of camping, biking, swimming and visiting the villages and historic places that have existed for over 400 years.

Given the lack of experience of Baltic FS with its plan of constructing the Areal combined with the hastiness of  Die Bahn and the German and Danish governments, the idea of the Areal, combined with the idea of additional bridges at the site of the Fehmarn Bridge has been seen in the eyes of the preservation group and the locals as poorly timed, poorly thought out and most importantly, poorly communicated between the planners and the residents, most of whom are against any proposal dealing with the Areal project as well as the replacement of the Fehmarn Bridge unless there is a tunnel variant and the historic bridge is saved. This according to sources from Bewahrt Fehmarn and other locals with knowledge of the project.

The current situation is as follows: A petition drive started this summer to halt plans for the Areal project as well as the replacement of the Fehmarn Bridge. With as many as 1800 signatures, the district of Oldenburg and the state of Schleswig-Holstein have approved a referendum, scheduled for 8 March of next year, where people will have an opportunity to vote on the Areal project. Politicians in Berlin and Kiel are working together on a solution where a tunnel would be built instead of two additional bridges and the Fehmarn Bridge would be handed over to the state or Oldenburg district, which governs Fehmarn.  Given the support for their beloved island, a vast majority of the people will most likely vote against the Areal, citing the need to preserve the island as  a place of natural interest and the fact that tourism has been the locomotive of the island’s economy. Even the majority of local businesses are against the Areal project as well, for only two have favored the district, according to Neumann. In addition, although the trend is leaning toward the tunnel solution, chances are very likely that the Fehmarn Bridge will remain in service, even beyond 2020, as many politicians are claiming that its lifespan will end.

But even if residents on Fehmarn have it their way, it will not stop the project of constructing a tunnel between Puttgarden and Rodby from getting underway at the earliest, next year, replacing the ferry service. This has put pressure on the parties involved regarding how to find a solution to the problem with the Fehmarn Bridge. Yet chances are likely that if all is approved in favor of the locals, then the Fehmarn Bridge will have new life as a local and bike crossing, with the tunnel variant taking over main traffic. That would be a blessing for many who cherish their beloved structure, whose history dates far back, and whose design is the pioneer of the bridge type that is still being used to this day.

Check out the photos of the Fehmarn Bridge on the Chronicles’ facebook page, which you can find here.

If you want to know more about how you can help save the Fehmarn Bridge and stop the Areal Project, check out the Bewahrt Fehmarn page, which you can click on here for more details. Special thanks to Karin Neumann for providing some useful information for this write-up.

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Historic Bridge Awareness Month: Interview with Craig Holstein

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

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



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











How many concrete truss bridges exist in the US?


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


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

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

How many roadway bridges exist in Washington state?

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

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


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


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


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




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Clifton Suspension Bridge Turns 150

Deck view of the bridge. Photo courtesy of Laura Hilton

150th Anniversary Celebrations to take place in December with concert, bridge walk and fireworks

BRISTOL (UK)- Before John Roebling made his mark with the construction of wire suspension bridges in Cincinnati (1869) and Brooklyn (1883), suspension bridges were built using chain cables to support the wooden decking. Chained suspension bridges are one of the oldest and rarest to build. The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of a few examples of such bridges that can be found in Europe. Built in 1864, the bridge was one of the prized works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a well-known bridge engineer who constructed numerous landmarks on the British Isle for three decades, during the time where Victorian architecture was becoming popular.  In fact, Brunel was 23 when construction of the bridge started in 1831, and it was his first solo project.  He died just before the project was completed 33 years later. The bridge was eventually dedicated in his honor upon its completion by his colleagues, William Barlow and John Hawkshaw.  Spanning the Avon Gorge between Clifton in Bristol and Leigh Woods in North Somerset, the bridge is one of the key symbols of Bristol, as it can be seen on several postcards and other souvenirs. Over 8,800 cars cross the structure daily. And the bridge has set some historic marks worth noting. With its decking being 75m (or 245 feet) above the River Avon, the bridge was the highest structure in the world built above the water when it was built, and it became the source of its first bungee jumping event in 1979. The last ever Concorde flight went over the bridge in 2003, the bridge was the centerpiece of the 200th birthday of Brunel in 2006 and the passing of the Olympic torch occurred on the bridge in 2012, enroute to London, the venue of the Summer Games.

Now there is another reason for celebration: the bridge turns 150 years old.

To honor the bridge and Brunel, the communities the bridge serves, together with the Volunteers of the Brunel Suspension Bridge are hosting the 150th anniversary celebrations, scheduled to take place beginning December 6th, with the procession taking place December 8th, the 150th anniversary of the bridge’s dedication and opening. A reenactment of the opening ceremony is being scheduled for that day, while a treasure hunt is scheduled for the 6th.  More information can be found via link (here) as well as the Clifton Suspension Bridge’s facebook page (here). Additional events will follow, which includes the bridge walk in January (more information here.) A concert is scheduled to take place on 22 November. According to Laura Hilton, the ceremonies also include the opening of the new visitors’ center and lastly, even a musical piece, TV programme, theatrical and computer app are planned honoring the bridge. While the bridge has attracted 1 million visitors and 4 million motorists annually, the number is expected to increase when the celebrations are in full swing in December.

Even if you do not have the opportunity to visit the bridge during the celebrations, the visitors’ center is open daily and provides guided tours, providing people with a chance to learn about Brunel and the construction of the bridge. For more information, please click here for details.

While the Clifton Suspension Bridge has received many accolades over the years because of its historic significance and magnificant design, it may have another title or two in January, for the bridge is nominated for the Othmar H. Ammann Awards by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles for Bridge of the Year for 2014. Voting for the bridge is scheduled for December with the winner being announced in January. More information to follow.

Opening ceremony of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1864. Photo courtesy of Laure Hilton




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Swing Bridge in Lübeck to be Rehabilitated

Photo taken in October 2013

Lübeck, Germany-  It is touted as the third oldest swing bridge in Germany and one of the last two swing bridges remaining in Schleswig-Holstein. Now the 1892 Drehbrücke, spanning the Trave River between Lübeck’s suburbs of St. Lorenz and the City Center (or Altstadt (Old Town)) is receiving a much-needed facelift.

The Crane ENAK lifted the truss span out of the water and the structure was transported to an undisclosed location, where it will be rehabilitated. The three curved Howe trusses (the center one dividing the street) will be sandblasted and redone, while the hydraulic motorwill be overhauled. The project is expected to take seven months to complete at a cost of 3.6 million Euros, and will cause some headaches for travellers having to use the Holsten Bridge and Puppebrücke, both located 1 kilometer south of the crossing to drive to St. Lorenz, as Willy Brandt Alle, where the bridge is located, will be closed during the reconstruction period.

Listed as a German Heritage Site, the Drehbrücke once served as a joint railroad and street crossing until the 1980s when the line was abandoned and the bridge became a two-way divided crossing. Its mechanism features a hydraulic motor, which lifts the bridge 16 meters before the rollers turn the bridge to a 70° angle. A video showing the bridge in the open position before closing can be found here:

This is the second bridge that Lübeck is replacing or restoring since 2013. The Posehlbrücke spanning the Elbe-Lübeck Canal in the eastern part of Lübeck was replaced last year, despite being built in 1956. The City is catching up on rehabilitating or replacing many of its bridges because of structural deficiencies found in the inspection reports so far, trying to eliminate the title of the “Stadt der Maroden Brücken” (Raw translation: City of Broken Down Bridges). But recognizing the structural integrity and historic significance of the bridge together with it popularity among residents, the city has taken a conservative approach and is keeping a piece of history by giving it a much-needed rehabilitation, so that it can serve traffic for another 122 years. And it is no surprise: the bridge will be 125 years old in 2017 and by that time, the it will function just like new- right in time for the celebration. :-)  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you updated on the progress of this bridge.

A video captioning the lifting of the bridge can be seen below, but German station NDR1 has pictures of the event, which you can click here.

Last year, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a special coverage on Lübeck’s historic bridges, including this bridge. More on the bridges that should be visited can be found here. They include pictures which you can click on the links for access. The city’s bridges finished in second place on the international scale and third all around in the Othmar H. Ammann Awards last year under the category of City Tour Guide.


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Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges Coming Down

Fairfax (left) and Platt Purchase (right). Photo taken by James Baughn in Aug. 2011

KANSAS CITY-  The Kansas City Royals baseball team finally snapped out of their doldrums this year and not only reached the playoffs in Major League Baseball for the first time since 1985, but was two runs shy of winning their first World Series in 29 years.  Yet the city has lost over half its pre-1945 bridges during that time span. With the Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges coming down this year, the trend seems to be continuing without slowing down.

Work is underway to replace the twin cantilever Warren through truss bridges that span the Missouri River, carrying US Hwy. 69 from I-635 in Kansas City into Wyandotte County Kansas. The spans feature a southbound span built in 1935 and a northbound span built 22 years later. Specifically, here are some details about the bridges:

Photo taken by the author in August 2011

Fairfax Bridge:

Location: Missouri River at US Hwy. 69 southbound

Built: 1935 by the Kansas City Bridge Company

Length: 2,594 feet total; largest span is 470 feet

Width: 20 feet

Last rehabilitated: 1979

Photo taken by the author in Aug. 2011

Platte Purchase Bridge:

Location: Missouri River at US 69 northbound

Built: 1957 (presumably by the same company)

Length: 2,601 feet; largest span is 474 feet

Width: 25.9 feet

Last rehabilitated: 1997

The plan is to replace the twin spans with one span that will accommodate six lanes of traffic. The project has already started with the southbound lanes being shifted onto the Platte Purchase Bridge and the Fairfax Bridge being demolished first. As soon as the new bridge is completed by late 2016, the Platte Purchase Bridge will follow suit. Both of the bridges, which had once collected tolls until 2000, had been made available for taking by the Missouri Department of Transportation until May of this year, when no takers were announced and the decision was made to turn these beautiful spans into a pile of scrap metal. The Fairfax Bridge, named after the city in Kansas, had been considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places The Platte Purchase Bridge was named after the Platte Purchase of 1836, where Missouri annexed the northwestern part of the state along the Missouri River up to the Iowa border, including the suburbs that belong to Kansas City today. That purchase was in violation of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which drew the border between the free states and territories of the north and those of the south, including Missouri. Yet the two are the latest casualties of truss bridges along the Missouri River that are dwindling rapidly in numbers. Since 1990, over 80% of the pre-1950 bridges along the second longest waterway in the United States have been replaced with only a handful of examples being kept for recreational and historic purposes. This includes the Paseo Bridge, located downstream in Kansas City. The 1950 suspension bridge over the Missouri River carrying I-29 was replaced by the Christopher Bond Bridge in 2010 and later removed. While Kansas City still has a large number of historic bridges, including those along the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, as will be shown in the Chronicles’ tour guide, the numbers are decreasing. And with the Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges coming down within the next two years, we could see numerous other examples being torn down in favor of modern but bland structures less appealing to travelers and tourists. While the Royals may have woken up after a long sleep and suddenly become contenders again, it is time for the rest of the city to wake up, look at their heritage and see to it that some of it is saved before it is too late- before we can only see them on youtube videos, as seen below:


More on the bridge replacement project can be found here.


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