Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cedar Grove Bridge Safe........For Now

A decision this week by the Indiana Department of Historic Preservation and Archaeology gave a glimmer of hope to the abandoned Cedar Grove steel truss bridge in Franklin County. INDOT owns this span and has requested a certification from the DHPA to demolish it. The bridge has been closed since 1999 and officials are concerned about rusted beams falling on people canoeing on the Whitewater River below. The 2-span Camelback truss bridge was built in 1914 and is an impressive site as it towers over the river valley. The review board has tabled any decisions on the matter for at least 6 months.

So while this "Stay of execution" is a good comes the daunting task of finding a group to assume ownership of the bridge from the state. There has been some talk of a Whitewater Valley Trail in the county, so extending the trail to (and through) the bridge could be one possibility. Liability issues seem to be the biggest obstacle  for any takers. Although it wouldn't cost as much to prepare the bridge for pedestrian use, it would need a new floor system and a new paint job. Some lower bracing rods that have broken and are hanging down give the bridge a much worse appearance than it deserves, as it is still a very steady structure. With some repairs and lighting this bridge could be a real centerpiece for the town of Cedar Grove.

Hopefully, better days will be ahead for this majestic span!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Home Needed

Of the many historic truss bridges that are sitting abandoned in Indiana, few are as impressive as the Vera Cruz Bridge in Wells County. Standing proudly on a bypassed segment of State Road 301, this 1887 Whipple truss iron bridge deserves a better fate. Although still very solid to walk across, the trees are taking over the bridge and I'm afraid without intervention they will be the demise of this landmark. The bridge is listed on the INDOT Historic Bridge Marketing site as available, but I'm not sure if it's still owned by the state or is now county property.

There are several covered and metal bridges owned and maintained by the state on DNR properties. Currently, the finishing touches are being placed on the relocated Portersville Bridge that is now a part of Charlestown State Park in Southeastern Indiana. That being said, the nearby Quabache State Park would be a perfect home for the Vera Cruz Bridge. There it could stay over the iconic Wabash River just upstream from it's current location, and be enjoyed by the many visitors to the park.

Let's just hope the right people see this Blog!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wells Street Bridge The Center of Community Activities

I visited Fort Wayne this past Sunday and was delighted to see the beautiful Wells Street Bridge hosting activities for the Three Rivers Festival. The Victorian embellished 1884 Whipple Truss span was abuzz with people enjoying the nice weather. The city is fortunate to have retained this rare example of a cast and wrought iron span that once used to exist in many cities across the state. The bridge will play host to another event in August.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rothrock Mill Bridge Being Readied For A New Home

A newly painted and restored Rothrock Mill Bridge will soon be the feature attraction on a trail near Corydon. The 1915 Parker Truss span had sat patiently near it's replacement since 2005 before being dismantled and moved to the Hayswood Nature Preserve. At it's new home it will span Indian Creek on the Indian Creek Nature Trail. The bridge appears to be ready except for a deck which will likely be installed after the span is placed on it's new abutments.

Thanks to Jonathan Parrish for supplying this photo of the bridge awaiting placement on a new foundation being built in the background.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jackson Covered Bridge damaged

Parke County's 1861 Jackson Covered Bridge was damaged on Monday, June 27 by a careless truck driver that attempted to cross it with a 23 ton semi. The driver entered the bridge and proceeded to break no less than 7 of the upper lateral bracing cross members before a falling beam severed a hose between his cab and trailer, and mercifully halted his progress. The 207 ft long Burr Arch bridge is the longest single span covered bridge still serving traffic in the U.S., and was restored in 2007 at a cost of about 2 million dollars. Fortunately, this restoration that brought the signed load limit up from 3 to 13 tons may have saved the venerable landmark from collapsing. The truck sat entirely on the bridge for upwards of 4 hours before it could be extracted. The bridge is currently closed pending an engineering inspection and repairs. Hopefully the driver will be held responsible and insurance will be available to cover the cost of fixing the damage.

Medora Covered Bridge restoration now complete

The long awaited restoration of the 1875 Medora Covered Bridge in Jackson County has been completed this past week and a ribbon cutting is to be held on July, 12 @ 1:30 at the bridge. The 462 foot (total length) J.J. Daniels built span is the longest historic covered bridge in the U.S., and has been in need of repair since it was closed to traffic in 1972.