Actually Nathan this bridge did not replace any bridge. Rte 50 actually went over the Parkersburg bridge in Belpre which still stands. It was originally supposed to go over the Parkersburg memorial bridge but that was canceled.
West Virginia seems to try to build unique bridges. They also like to use piers of old bridges like the new Williamstown bridge is built on the piers of the old Williamstown bridge therefore they had to use a lighter steel span.
Network Tied Arches will not be unique for much longer, as HNTB moves to build this design at Lake Champlain: http://www.nysdot.gov/lakechamplainbridge/alternatives
Sadly, I doubt this will be the last historic bridge to be replaced with a network tied arch.
Also, on the topic of modern bridges, the design for the replacement of the historic Inner Belt Bridge in Cleveland (another HNTB project) is basically a copy of the steel rigid frame portion of the replacement Lake Champlain Bridge (the spans that flank the tied arch) lined up one after another. http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/09/opinions_differ_on_new_inner_b.html
As new bridges go, this is one of the more fascinating ones I have seen. The lack of any horizontal members in the overhead bracing gives an almost mesmerizing appearance. Although still not at the same level as an historic truss bridge, this is one span that might just make a lasting impression 50 years or so from now..............
You mentioned the contractor, Walsh Construction, and to be complete, the designer, a joint design by Michael Baker Corporation and HNTB. I was the project manager for the design of the main span and plate girder approach spans and enjoyed the challenge of design of the second network tied arch on the North American Continent. The only other networked tied arch, currently, is on Interstate 195 in Rhode Island.
The owner of the Blennerhassett bridge is the West Virginia Department of Transportation. It is now, according to my best information, the second longest networked tied arch bridge in the world. The longest was constructed in China just a few years previous to the opening of this structure although I have not personally been able to verify this information.
Parkersburg, WV is a particularly interesting town to drive through, in part due to the geography that highways must navigate. This includes many steep hills and two major rivers, the Ohio and the Little Kanawha. These factors have resulted in a variety of interesting bridges being constructed here.
This is at least the second unique new bridge to be constructed in the Parkersburg, WV area recently. The old East Street Bridge was demolished in the late 1990s, but was replaced by another through truss instead of a UCEB. It appears that the Parkersburg WV/Belpre, OH area is bucking the UCEB trend.
I am guessing that this bridge is probably carrying the new US 50. Old 50 ran through the middle of Parkersburg and after winding through an area that sometimes gets congested, crossed the river downtown.
This is a network arch bridge- similar to a modern tied arch but more in common with a historic Bowstring truss with its diagonal hangers. Acts more like a truss than a tied arch under analysis.
Photo 1- First visible looking south/east
Photo 2- Looking South
Photo 3- Signage looking north
Photo 4- Looking North
Photo 5- Up close scale
Photo 6- Top shot going thru
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