Saturday, January 5, 2019
Good luck with the voting and feel free to get the word out to encourage others to vote. Your Bridge matters! :-)
And with that, the 2018 Othmar H. Ammann is now open to business. Between now and December 3rd, the Bridgehunter's Chronicles is now accepting entries of (historic) bridges and people who have worked to save them for reuse. Named after the Swiss bridge engineer who left his mark in bridge building in New York and the surrounding area, the Award is given out, both on the national and international levels in te following categories:
Best Bridge Photo
Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge
Lifetime Achievement (including post mortem)
Tour Guide- Communities, Counties, Districts with a high number of historic and fancy modern bridges
Best Kept Secret- Individual Bridge
Mystery Bridge and
Bridge of the Year.
To enter the contest, please click here:
and you will be followed to the contact form and e-mail address where you can submit your entries. The contest is open for all people, but please pay attention to the guidelines for Best Bridge Photo. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles.
Good luck and may the bridgehunting bring you the best bridges deserving the best recognition.
If you missed it on PBS, you can watch it on their website:
Now that the bridge is operational, the navigation channel is open to all Fox River watercraft that able to lock through Appleton.
Some back-of-the-envelope calculations show that Bridgehunter.com, Landmarkhunter.com, and BridgeReports.com would be on the hook for $19,000 per year at current usage under the new pricing regime.
To mitigate this, I've immediately switched all three sites to use the "Embed" version of Google Maps which will remain free (at least for now). Unfortunately, this version is a definite downgrade: it does not offer Terrain view, the default zoom level always seems to be too close, part of the map is obscured by an overlay that can't be removed, and Google reserves the right to place advertisements within it.
The county maps, Exhibit maps, and editor tools require more advanced services that will cost $7 per 1,000 uses. Google is offering $200 per month credit, but it's possible that we'll blow past that limit even with the changes I've made. We'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it, so to speak.
I have been working on building my own mapping engine, although it's not quite ready to launch. You can try it out at Mapwhatever.com. But keep in mind, as the front page warns, "Things will break. And how!"
I'd love to eliminate the dependency on Google services entirely, but right now Street View imagery is simply too helpful to leave behind. But that might become necessary if Google keeps "streamlining" their services with more price increases.
À la carte pricing
(*) Unlimited access speeds may be throttled during periods of heavy use (see AT&T for details)
Details on payment methods will be announced as soon as they are finalized by Ms. Lirpa Sloof, the new business manager for Bridgehunter.com.
The term Functionally Obsolete has been retired, and Structurally Deficient is being redefined more narrowly so that it exactly matches the Poor condition on the new scale.
This seems like a good thing, as Good/Fair/Poor is much easier to explain. I'm looking forward to no longer fielding questions about the intricacies of the terms Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete.
The Good/Fair/Poor scale is based on the ratings for Superstructure, Substructure, and Deck, as determined during each bridge inspection. If any of these three ratings are scored as 4 (Poor) or below, then the bridge is considered Poor. If all of the ratings are at least 7 (Good), then the bridge is considered Good. Otherwise the bridge is Fair. (Culverts have a separate rating field which works the same.)
States will be expected to decrease the number of Poor bridges and increase the number of Good bridges, and will be penalized by FHWA if they don't make adequate progress in that direction.
Interestingly, the new system does not take into account NBI ratings for "Structural Appraisal" and "Waterway Adequacy Appraisal." This means that it's possible for bridges previously considered Structurally Deficient to end up as Fair (instead of Poor) on the new scale. Indeed, doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations shows that this applies to 6,815 bridges. Of these, 756 are truss bridges.
Likewise, the elimination of the term Functionally Obsolete also makes a difference. Of those bridges previously declared as Functionally Obsolete, 53,937 now fit into the Fair category, and 21,750 qualify for the Good category. Among both of these groups, 1,972 are truss bridges.
The upshot -- and we can always dream -- is that a significant number of historic bridges, particularly truss bridges, won't be quite as juicy a target for replacement. It's been frustrating to watch perfectly sound bridges being demolished simply because they were too narrow and therefore "obsolete."
Of course, we have no idea how this will actually play out, but perhaps this will help some historic bridges avoid the wrecking ball. State DOTs will now be "on the clock" to prevent bridges from slipping from Good to Fair to Poor, and this will hopefully spur an emphasis on preventative maintenance and rehabilitation.
The latest NBI dataset from 2017 does not incorporate the new Good/Fair/Poor scale. However, it's easy enough to apply the new scale, so I've updated the data shown on Uglybridges.com and here on Bridgehunter.com to reflect the new system. I've retroactively applied the new scale to the archived data to make it easier to look at trends.
On the brighter side, 2017 saw the restoration of four bowstring truss bridges, all relocated to public parks where they can be enjoyed. It also brought the long-awaited completion of several bridge projects that we've been following for years, including Dodd Ford Bridge in Minnesota, War Eagle Bridge in Arkansas, and the venerable Burnside's Bridge at Antietam Battlefield in Maryland.
Here is a look at some of the more important developments of the year. (I apologize in advance if I've overlooked your favorite bridge project.)
Year of bowstrings
Four bowstring bridges from the late 1800s are now open to pedestrian traffic in their new homes in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Bayonne Bridge progress
With a price tag of nearly $1.7 billion, the project to raise the deck of the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate taller cargo ships is likely one of the most expensive bridge rehabilitation projects ever undertaken in the United States. After a new, higher roadway deck was opened to traffic, the original lower deck was removed. This phase was completed in June, providing 215 feet of vertical clearance instead of the 155 feet of the original design by Othmar Ammann and Cass Gilbert.
With so many other major bridges in the New York City metro area in the process of being demolished (Goethals, Tappan Zee, Kosciuszko), at least the Port Authority decided to keep this bridge. They had considered replacing it from scratch with a new bridge or tunnel, or even demolishing the old bridge and not replacing it.
Other successful projects
As mentioned before, natural and man-made disasters conspired with gravity to destroy several bridges this year:
As with any other year, a large number of significant bridges were replaced and demolished. In no particular order:
Here's to hoping for a better 2018!
New editor features
I wanted to get everybody's feedback before venturing too far down the rabbit hole...
Voting will take place during the holiday season from December 4th until 6th January, 2018 with the winners to be announced on the 12th. The ballot will be available through The Bridgehunter's Chronicles. If you have bridges that deserve to be nominated and deserve an Award, or if you have any questions, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at:
Happy Bridgehunting and may the nomination for the Ammann Awards begin! :-)
I haven't figured out how best to handle companies that include the name of a person (like "A. Guthrie & Co."). These kinds of names are surprisingly common, but for now I haven't touched any of them.
For non-Garmin devices, the ZIP file includes alternate bridges.gpx and lostbridges.gpx files that can be converted to other formats using gpsbabel or other software.
If so, you may consider choosing a spot with a historic bridge in view. Here are some of the more interesting and photogenic bridges that are located within the path of Monday's celestial concealment. With the eclipse following a length of 2.36 megasmoot across the United States, there are plenty of places to choose for watching this rare stellar shrouding.
I apologize in advance if I overlooked your favorite span. From west to east:
The truck driver who caused a historic Indiana bridge to collapse because she wasn’t sure how much six tons weighed has been sentenced to jail.
Indiana Judge R. Michael Cloud sentenced 24 year old truck driver Mary Lambright to the maximum sentence of 180 days behind bars. She was also ordered to pay $2000 to cover part of the costs of the bridge inspection once construction on the new structure is completed.
The concrete arch bridge has been a source of concern for several years. Cracks and spalling raised concerns, leading to a structural analysis in 2015. Potential failure of the bridge prompted its closure on December 9 along with the closing of Ravine Drive, a roadway spanned by the bridge. According to County Executive Chris Abele, the bridge will be demolished if people ignore the chain link gates that block access.
Authorities say the bridge recently underwent structural analysis and they believe insurance should cover the cost of repairs.
The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Link to original article:
Voting will commence in December but in two parts:
Part 1 will focus on the 2016 Awards candidates themselves, while Part 2 will feature the voting of all of the winners and runners-up in each category dating back to 2011, where the top six in each will be inducted into the Chronicles' Hall of Fame, a special section where every five years, six candidates will be inducted for the US as well as international. This does not apply for Lifetime Achievement as the winners are automatically inducted annually. More to come when the voting process starts. Get your cameras out, take your kids on tours and let's see some gorgeous bridges! :-)
Under the bill, the likeness of every government structure within Michigan -- including bridges on public roads -- will be protected by copyright, making it illegal to take photos without obtaining express written consent of a newly created state office, the Copyright Revenue Adjustment Panel.
According to the bill's preamble, the legislation has several goals, including:
In a press release, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Leonard "Lirpa" Sloof, explained that he got the idea after seeing a barrage of newspaper articles and TV segments using stock footage of deteriorating lead pipes in Flint. "This whole Flint water incident has been a convenient way for out-of-state media to pursue their anti-Michigan propaganda," he explained. "But then it dawned on me: we can just claim those lead pipes are government property and we should be able to control who takes photos of them."
He added: "It's all about the children. I don't want any anybody to whine that this violates the First Amendment. The Constitution specifically allows for enforcing copyright, and that's exactly what we're doing here."
Bridgehunter.com is currently discussing options with legal counsel. If the law goes into effect, it will be necessary to blur all Michigan bridge photos, or remove them outright. Our legal team is also researching the possibility of relabeling all Michigan bridges as actually being located in a neighboring state, like Ohio.
The Mighty Mac Bridge of "Toledo, Ohio"
In addition, to commemorate the Chronicles' five-year anniversary, a special category will be added in the voting mix: The Top Five Historic Bridges one should see and The Top Five Places with a large number of historic bridges. These will be based on the top three bridge candidates that had been entered in the Ammann Awards per year since its launch in 2011. They will be added to the voting ballot.
For further questions or to submit your entry for the Ammann Awards, please contact Jason Smith either by using the contact form below:
or directly via e-mail. Enjoy the new website that has been relaunched recently and may we have some cool pics and interesting bridge entries coming our way. Happy Bridgehunting!
Photo: Cincinnati Fire Department
The semi-driver was injured when his rig collided with the rubble. Had he been a few seconds earlier, the results might have been quite different.
"What appears to have happened is, in essence, an industrial incident – a workplace incident with respect to a construction crew that's doing work out here," city manager Harry Black said. "Something went wrong, and a tragedy has occurred as a result. ... We don't believe that there is any additional loss of life."
City officials expect the highway to be closed for at least 48 hours while the investigation and cleanup takes place.
(Sources: Cincinnati Enquirer, WHIO News, various wire services)
As always, these changes may have introduced weird bugs. Please let me know if something is out of whack.
In no particular order, here are the 2014 TRUSS Award winners:
Asylum Bridge (Osawatomie, Miami County, Kansas)
The bridge: Despite having the appearance of a cantilever, this unique bridge has been classified as a "Reverse Parker", or a Parker truss where the top chord swoops downward instead of up. Built in 1905 by the Kansas City Bridge Co., it's unclear why this peculiar design was chosen, especially with a relatively short main span (120 feet) which could have easily accommodated a simple Pratt truss.
The significance: This is the only known bridge of its type in the U.S., making this a no-brainer for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The situation: The Asylum Bridge has remained abandoned for some years. Photos suggest that the stone piers are deteriorating, which could jeopardize the bridge.
The plan: Miami County has an excellent collection of historic bridges, especially around Osawatomie. Last year, the nearby Creamery Bridge was rehabilitated, and comments in the newspaper suggest that the county commissioners understand the value of historic bridges. If the Asylum Bridge were to be repaired and reopened to pedestrians, Miami County will be sitting pretty.
Republican River U.P. Crossing Bridge (Cloud County, Kansas)
The bridge: Built for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1894, this bridge features three pin-connected Pratt through trusses. Despite its location near the more famous Republican River Pegram Truss, this bridge has remained overlooked.
The significance: This is one of a tiny population of truss bridges attributed to the Lassig Bridge & Iron Works of Chicago.
The situation: Although the bridge appears structurally sound, it is abandoned and overgrown. Similar bridges have been dismantled in the past for scrap value with little or no warning.
The plan: Designed to support locomotives, the superstructure on this bridge is likely sound enough to handle pedestrians. With a new deck and railings, this bridge could be reopened for pedestrian use, making it a perfect companion for the nearby Pegram Truss bridge.
Aulwurm Drive Bridge (Cook County, Illinois)
The bridge: Nicknamed the "Blue Bridge", this was built as a four-span Warren pony truss, but one of the spans has collapsed and the other three are in appalling condition due to deterioration and visits from metal thieves.
The significance: This is a rare example of a multi-span pony truss bridge of any kind in the Chicago area.
The situation: It seems likely that the remaining spans will eventually collapse under their own weight without repairs.
The plan: A report from 2012, the Blue Island Active Transportation Plan, advocates the possibility (p. 33) of restoring the bridge for bicycle/pedestrian access to Jackson Street on the south side. It notes, "Jackson Street is closed westbound at Ashland Avenue, yet Calumet Township continues to collect tax for its maintenance. The township can return value to Blue Island residents by paying for reopening of Jackson Street as a nonmotorized route and participating in the reconstruction of the Blue Bridge as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing."
Mosquito Road Bridge (El Dorado County, California)
The bridge: Located at a scenic stretch of the South Fork American River, this one-lane suspension bridge was built in 1939.
The significance: Featuring timber floor beams, stringers, and deck, this bridge more closely resembles a rustic 1800s-era bridge than something from the 1930s.
The situation: Sitting in the middle of a sharp S-curve and having a deck width of only 9 feet, local officials have wanted to replace the bridge for many years. According to the official project website, however, no decision has been made.
The plan: Mosquito Road near the bridge features sharp switchbacks, so it seems likely that a replacement bridge would be built at a high level over the canyon to eliminate these curves. If indeed the new bridge is built on a different alignment, it should be feasible to keep the old bridge in place for pedestrian use (or even light traffic) to enjoy this scenic location.
Savanna-Sabula Bridge (Carroll County, Illinois, and Jackson County, Iowa)
The bridge: This is a large cantilever through truss over the Mississippi River featuring a partial K-truss design. It was opened to traffic on the last day of 1932.
The significance: Cantilevered trusses as well as K-trusses are both rapidly disappearing.
The situation: Construction on a replacement bridge is slated to begin 2015. The Illinois Department of Transportation offered the old bridge for adaptive reuse, but with ridiculous strings attached -- it must be completely removed within 30 days and then reassembled and maintained forever. Such a short time frame to carefully dismantle this massive bridge is virtually impossible, and would represent a truly remarkable feat in the history of civil engineering.
The plan: This bridge received the most nominations of any other bridge, but it's going to require a very well-organized campaign to have any hope of saving this one.
Fort Atkinson Bridge (Winneshiek County, Iowa)
The bridge: Built in 1892 by D.H. Young of Manchester, Iowa, this Pratt through truss features elaborate decorations above the portals.
The significance: The Iowa Historic Bridge Inventory reports that this NRHP-listed bridge is distinguished "for its relatively early erection date, well-preserved condition and the decorative iron cresting on its portals." This is a rare remaining work of D.H. Young, a civil engineer and bridge builder who later became a state representative and senator.
The situation: The bridge was closed to traffic in March 2013 after failing an inspection due to "corrosion of bridge materials." Plans are underway to replace the bridge.
The plan: Sitting next to a city park, it makes sense to build a replacement bridge on a new alignment and leave the historic bridge in place for pedestrian use.
Clear Creek Bridge (Shelby County, Kentucky)
The bridge: This is an authentic 90-ft Bailey truss relocated from an unknown location, perhaps in 1982, and set on existing stone piers.
The significance: Although the exact history of this span remains a mystery, the bridge is marked with the names of two British companies: Thos. Storey Engineers Ltd of Manchester (shown by patent plaque) and Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co. of Lincolnshire (steel brand). This strongly implies that the structure was imported from England as World War II era surplus. The British plaques make this an exceptionally rare bridge.
The situation: The bridge is closed to all traffic with a barricade at one end and a chain-link fence at the other.
The plan: Bailey bridges were intended to be portable, and that feature would come in handy if a new home can be found for this structure.
Bridge Theater (Washington County, New York)
The bridge: This bridge spans Lock 12 of the Champlain Canal at Whitehall, New York. It is a double-intersection Warren through truss built in 1911.
The significance: Although historic in its own right, this bridge is also notable for how it was used in modern times: as a performing arts center. When the bridge was closed to traffic in 1999, civic leaders spearheaded the ingenious idea of converting it into a theater. An enclosure was built inside the trusses, providing seating capacity for 60 people. This unique venue operated until 2009, when the bridge failed inspection and was completely shut down.
The situation: The theater enclosure has been removed and the bridge is in danger of demolition.
The plan: It may take another ingenious idea, but hopefully this bridge can be preserved in place. It would be a shame to lose it now after all that was done to save it the first time.
Ferry Street Bridge (Columbia County, New York)
The bridge: Built in 1905 to span a rail line along the Hudson River, this double-intersection Warren pony truss features three truss webs and a double-barreled roadway.
The significance: Although several double-barreled through trusses remain in use across the country, this is one of the only -- if not the only -- extant pony truss with this configuration.
The situation: The weight limit was recently reduced to 3 tons, putting it on the verge of being closed entirely. Ferry Street provides one of only two entrances to the waterfront (the other is an at-grade rail crossing), so this is an important bridge. Ownership of the bridge is in the process of being transferred from CSX to Amtrak, but local officials want the city to take over the bridge and replace it, calling the project a top priority.
The plan: The city has had trouble obtaining funding to replace the bridge, so they may not have any choice but to repair, instead of demolish, the bridge.
White River MO 76 Bridge (Taney County, Missouri)
The bridge: This is a five-span Camelback Pratt through truss built in the early 1950s in conjunction with the construction of Bull Shoals Lake.
The significance: For reasons that are unclear, the Camelback truss design -- seemingly obsolete at the time -- was chosen for this and three other bridges built around Bull Shoals Lake. Very few other Camelback trusses were built in the country after World War II.
The situation: The bridge is slated for replacement in 2017.
The plan: According to a news story from February, the idea was floated at a public meeting to preserve the bridge for use as a pedestrian walkway. This could potentially be more cost effective than building a walkway on the new bridge.
Kingpost Bridge (Otsego County, New York)
The bridge: This is an abandoned three-span timber Kingpost pony truss overpass of the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad, operated by the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society.
The significance: It's a Kingpost. It features timber trusses. It has three spans. What more is there to like? This is an exceedingly rare -- if not unique -- bridge.
The situation: The bridge is abandoned with portions of the deck missing.
The plan: This spectacular structure needs some attention before it deteriorates beyond the point of no repair.
To celebrate, you'll notice a few improvements to the website:
1. The masthead photos are now 100% covered bridges.
2. Only covered bridge related updates now appear on the front page.
3. By popular demand, covered bridges will be automatically highlighted on the county listing pages to distinguish them from boring old iron bridges. The ability to hide covered bridges -- a feature only used by one regular user -- has been deprecated in order to simplify the user interface and improve efficiency.
I've updated the inspection reports for the bridges on this website where possible. The "Add Bridge from NBI" tool has been updated with the 2013 data, and I've also added other years from the past to make it easier to find lost bridges.
In addition, I've posted a new version of the OVERPASS software program for processing the raw NBI data. This new version updates the fields for the 2013 edition and attempts to handle some of the broken latitude/longitude coordinates for certain bridges (although some of them are hopeless). You can download it here (note: it requires the Perl programming language).
Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 31, with the awards announced sometime in February.
To nominate a bridge, go to the page for that bridge and click the "Nominate" button near the top. Or, for bridges that aren't listed, follow this link.
First, login to the website and go to the Settings page. Make a note of the email address given under "Personalized email address for submissions." When you send messages to that address, the system will automatically process them and link them to your account so that you get proper credit.
Use the email's subject line to specify where you want the attached photos to appear. See the Help page for full details.
The main advantage is being able to upload photos or post comments from your smartphone in the field. If, for example, you discover a "bonus" bridge, you can quickly post a forum comment with a snapshot, even while you're standing on it (assuming you can get a signal).
Note that this is an experimental feature, so let me know how it works (or doesn't work).
And therein lies her problem. The SS Badger has been on the endangered species list since 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency leveled the ship into its crosshairs. Coal-fired vessels disposed of coal ash by mixing it with water and pouring it overboard. The Badger is no different, and has been disposing of coal ash into the lake since it was built in 1953. The EPA claims the coal ash is a pollutant and ordered the dumping stopped in 2008. The operators were given until 2012 to stop dumping or cease operations. The legal battle has continued ever since.
On October 10, 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff approved a revised deal between the EPA and Lake Michigan Carferry, parent company of the S.S. Badger.
The agreement allows the Badger to continue operations while modifications are made to the ship. The deal calls for a reduction in the amount of ash discharged during the 2014 sailing season and by the start of the 2015 season, the Badger will have to store coal ash on board for later disposal on shore.
With this ruling, it appears the Queen of the Great Lakes Car Ferries (and the last of her breed still sailing) will continue to be an operational historical landmark.
Congratulations to everybody who has contributed!
This year's Historic Bridge Weekend will focus on Iowa, where various types of historic bridges dating as far back as the 1870s can still be seen today, each having its own history in terms of bridge builder and in terms of its association with the communities that cherish them.
The 5th annual event will take place August 9th through the 12th and will focus on eastern Iowa and the Des Moines area. A formal dedication dinner honoring James Hippen will take place August 9th at the Stone City General Store near Anamosa, with dinner and presentations taking place August 10th at Baxa's Restaurant and Tavern next to Sutliff Bridge and August 11th at Horn's Ferry Bridge at 2:30pm as well as at Bos Landen Golf Course near the Horn's Ferry Bridge in Pella at 5:30pm.
The trip to the Kate Shelley Viaduct on the morning of August 12 will round off the four-day event.
More information on the HB Weekend, as well as contact details can be found via link here: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/04/02/5th-annual-...
Please RSPV Jason Smith before July 15th if you are interested in participating in the HB Weekend and attending the dinner and presentations, so that the venues know how many will attend and you can plan accordingly. Hope to see you at this year's HB Weekend in Iowa.
Congratulations to the nominators and all of the people involved in the campaigns to save these bridges!
With any major programming overhaul, however, it's almost certain that ugly bugs will appear. If you see any errors -- especially the dreaded "Something went wrong" message -- then please let me know.
One last reminder: The deadline for submitting TRUSS Award nominations is this Friday, Jan. 18.
While you are pondering which bridges to submit, you may also want to consider going out on a limb and nominating a threatened bridge to the America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places program run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The deadline for 2013 nominations is March 1st. It would be ideal to see at least one bridge listed every year. Many states and some cities also have historic preservation organizations that run similar programs, so be sure to check them out as well.
This is a good time to pause and reflect. What features or improvements would you like to see on this site? You can use this story to post your thoughts.
Reminder: I'm collecting nominations for the TRUSS Awards until Jan. 18, but please don't procrastinate. Right now 26 nominations have been submitted, but that's much less than in previous years.
One final plug: The hosting bills for this website have been steadily increasing thanks to the recent growth in traffic and uploaded photos. It's a good problem to have, I suppose, but it's still a problem. You can help by making a donation toward hosting costs.
If you have some free time during the holidays, or you're looking for an excuse to take a break from your relatives, then I have the perfect mission for you: nominating a worthy bridge for the 2013 TRUSS Awards. This award is intended for historic bridges that are threatened with demolition or neglect, but are worthy of saving.
To nominate a bridge, navigation to that bridge's page and then click the yellow "Nominate" button. If a bridge isn't listed, then follow this link.
The deadline for nominations is January 18, 2013.
Right now, the tool shows these items:
This tool should help settle arguments over the ownership of railroad lines, as well as whether a bridge is located in a certain town or township. It should also help cut down on duplicate listings, since it will show other nearby bridges that are already listed.
Right now this is a highly experimental feature. I plan to expand it to cover other things (rivers, lakes, highways, streets, public land). If this is successful, and it doesn't overload the webserver, then I hope to make this tool more widely available.
But Clay County, Illinois, has something equally special. Sadly, it has gone unnoticed.
When US 50 was constructed in the early 1920s, the concrete highway included three through truss bridges and one long concrete girder bridge. Three of the four bridges were built with unusual brick parapets.
The highway was bypassed decades ago by a new alignment, but everything from the vintage highway remains intact: the bridges, the concrete pavement, and the brickwork. Of course, the lack of maintenance has caused the structures to deteriorate, especially the intricate brickwork.
While the bridges are barricaded, the connecting stretches of concrete highway are still open to traffic (for landowner access), but see virtually no use, except perhaps from ATV riders. The pavement is rough, but this 2.5 mile stretch of vintage highway has potential as a pedestrian/bicycle trail. With some repairs, brush clearing, and signage, this could be a wonderful park that would cost relatively little.
Unfortunately, the replacement bridges on US 50 are also deteriorating, and IDOT intends to replace them in the coming years. This means that the historic bridges, which sit side-by-side to the replacement bridges, are likely in jeopardy because of their proximity to the construction area.
Local and state officials probably consider these orphaned bridges to be a liability, but with the right marketing, they could be transformed into an asset instead. The concrete girder bridge has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but I feel the entire collection of bridges and pavement should be evaluated as a potential historic district.
This could become a recognized historic site and a recreation area, all with a budget that would be far lower than what other counties and towns are spending to build brand-new walking and bicycle trails.
The bridges, from west to east:
The winner will be announced on 23 December.
The Bridgehunter's Chronicles has also started a new page with the best bridge preservation examples, providing people with some live examples of historic bridges that were preserved to use as a reference for their bridge that is a target of preservation versus progress. If you have a success story that you would like to share on the Chronicles, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at: email@example.com or JDSmith77@gmx.net.
Other historic bridge campaigns and mystery bridges are still being gathered for posting as well. If you have one that needs attention of the general public, out with it! You'll be amazed at the support you will receive on a larger more global scale. Thank you.
For information, contact host Tony Dillon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bridgehunter's Chronicles would like to help you bring these historic bridges to the attention of the readers, with the goal of providing support and addressing the issues involved with these precious vintage structures.
If you are part of an organization that is working to save a historic bridge or know a historic bridge that is threatened with demolition but would like to save it, please provide a short summary of the structure (history, status, etc.) as well as plans for preserving the structure and a couple photos and send them to Jason D. Smith using the following e-mail address: email@example.com. The information will then be posted on the Bridgehunter's Chronicles, where you will receive some feedback and support for your historic bridge with hopes that you will garner enough support and interest to save the structure. These articles will be posted starting in September.
In addition to that, the Bridgehunter's Chronicles is also looking for any mystery bridges that deserve to be posted. If you have a bridge, whose information is missing and would like to know more about its origins, please send the author a photo with some information (including what questions you want solved on this structure) to the above-mentioned address. The mystery bridges will be posted in the Chronicles beginning in September and listed under the heading "Mystery Bridges." Please be aware that these mystery bridges you present must be those that were built in 1945 and earlier.
The Bridgehunter's Chronicles is a column that brings the past of historic bridges to light, and provides support for preserving historic bridges for future generations to come. After all, historic bridges are relics that deserve our attention.
Despite the total destruction of a 322-ft span, the rest of the bridge, including the piers, remained intact. That's when KYTC decided to try to reopen the bridge with a temporary span. Hall Contracting, the same company that performed emergency repairs on the Sherman Minton Bridge at Louisville, was hired to fabricate and install a temporary span at Eggner's Ferry -- with a very strict deadline of Memorial Day. They delivered two-and-a-half days ahead of the deadline.
Thanks to the early completion, KYTC decided to open the bridge to pedestrians during the morning of May 25 before allowing vehicular traffic. This was a repeat of the wildly successful "Bridge Day" at Owensboro, Kentucky, where a massive crowd came to see the newly refurbished Blue Bridge across the Ohio River. The Bridge Day at Eggner's Ferry, coming on a weekday with only several hours notice, wasn't able to attract the same overflowing crowd. But that didn't matter: a sizable crowd did arrive, and everybody who walked, bicycled, scooted, or golf-carted across the bridge had reason to be absolutely jubilant.
The new truss span, a simple Warren design, isn't nearly as intricate as the historic Parker and Pratt trusses, and it tends to stick out like a sore thumb. But it's better than 322 feet of thin air. Or a UCEB.
Now that the Eggner's Ferry Bridge has reached a happy ending (at least until it's replaced in a few years), we should consider some important lessons from this episode:
1. When disaster strikes, don't just scrap everything and start over
Immediately after the cargo ship struck the bridge, it seemed that the most likely outcome would be for the old bridge to be scrapped while construction would be expedited on a replacement bridge. That's the typical response in modern American society, after all: scrap first and ask questions later. If this option had been chosen, however, people around Kentucky Lake would expect to be making lengthy detours for two, three, or four more summer tourist seasons. Thankfully, circumstances made it feasible to repair instead of scrap; based on past experience, however, it's safe to say that not every highway department would have even entertained the idea of trying to repair the damaged bridge.
2. Trusses are still a viable technology
In the aftermath of the I-35W Bridge collapse, truss bridges took a bum rap, with "experts" appearing out of the woodwork to claim that truss designs are inherently unsafe because they are "fracture critical." We've seen campaigns in many states and counties to eliminate all truss bridges from public roads, conveniently ignoring that other bridge designs have their own Achilles' heels.
Nevertheless, it was a truss design that was chosen for the replacement span at Eggner's Ferry. The span was assembled off-site and then floated up Kentucky Lake by barge to the bridge site, where two cranes hoisted the superstructure into place. It was an economical design that could be rapidly put together and installed. The more things change, the more they stay the same: these are the same benefits that bridge companies have touted for truss designs for the last century-and-a-half.
3. Truss spans can be moved
In a recent forum comment, a letter from an Ohio legislative aide was posted arguing that relocating truss bridges was an "unheard practice in today's technological age." What a load of expletive. Even with all of these technological advances at their disposal, the contractor for rebuilding Eggner's Ferry Bridge still relied on the tried-and-true practice of moving a prefabricated truss into place. Meanwhile, just downstream at Kentucky Dam, a new railroad truss bridge was built in 2009 using the same method: floating the truss by boat and then lifting it into place. And let's not forget about the amazing development in Illinois last year where a UCEB was replaced by a historic through truss relocated from another location.
Trusses were meant to be moved, either for initial construction or for later reuse elsewhere. This was a selling point historically, and is still true today... except perhaps in Ohio.
4. Bridge events bring crowds
It was fun to see all of the camera-toting people studying every square inch of the bridge while it was open to pedestrians. Letting visitors get a sneak preview of the bridge repairs was a nice touch, something that other highway departments should embrace. With last year's Bridge Day at Owensboro and now the Bridge Party at Eggners Ferry, it seems Kentucky has stumbled across an offbeat, but successful, kind of tourist attraction.
5. Throw enough money at a engineering problem, and anything is possible.
Well, I think we all knew this. It's just too bad there aren't a whole lot of opportunities for politicians to throw money at repairing historic bridges.