Posts Tagged ‘bridges’

Lost Landmarks along the Lincoln Highway in PA

December 17, 2008

I’m still reviewing my Lincoln Highway Companion book maps and so was using Google Maps to check out aerial views of the old stone bridge over Poquessing Creek. If you’re ever northeast of Philadelphia, you must go check it out – a turnpike-era bridge in the woods but within sound of wide boulevards and suburban sprawl.

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I kept scrolling east towards the NJ border and recognized a couple places I’d been years ago – the US 1 North Drive-In Theater and the original railroad crossing at Fallsington, used by the Lincoln Hghway through 1920. In fact, the entire LH from the Philadelphia line (which the Poquessing Creek Bridge crosses) to Morrisville (at the NJ line) is filled with interesting reroutings, made all the more challenging to discern because so many of the changes were made so many years ago.

pa_fallsington

The long-closed drive-in amazingly survives but nature is overtaking it. The old crossing can be found by locating the two skinny roads leading to the tracks; I’ve marked the location of the bridge. Both are noted on the map below — click to enlarge it.

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Lincoln Hwy map tweak at Grand Junction Iowa

December 12, 2008

Reviewing the Iowa chapter in my forthcoming Lincoln Highway Companion, I often compare my maps to extreme close-ups of the LHA’s excellent CD-based maps based on the DeLorme system. My book has a photo from just east of Grand Junction, Iowa, where 4 bridges cross Beaver Creek. However, I noticed the LHA maps only show 3 roads/bridges there, despite a notation of “4 Bridges.”

So I checked with Bob and Joyce Ausberger, who made the ultimate effort to save the original tiny concrete bridge there by purchasing it and the land around it! They confirmed that the original LH needs to be shown crossing it. “There is still the remains of the road grade. You need to be standing at the right location to see it. It was never more than a graded dirt road, but it’s there. Right now it is covered with brome grass so it probably wouldn’t show up on the DeLorme maps.”

You can see all 4 in the Google Maps aerial view — from top: original LH, railroad, old LH, and US 30. (And note how lucky we are – the aerial views go low-res just a few yards to the west!)

ia_grjunctionbridges

On a sample of the DeLorme map, I’ve drawn in by hand a bright blue line where the original route should be, and a black circle where the bridge is. I’m guessing at where it joins the revised LH/222nd St on the west end but maybe readers can help confirm that.

ia_grjunctionmap

The Sky(way) is falling! Well, not yet anyhow.

January 8, 2008

An article in The New York Times examines the current state of the Pulaski Skyway, an overhead road that bypassed part of the Lincoln Highway in northern New Jersey in 1932. The 3-mile-long superhighway, named for Revolutionary War general Casimir Pulaski, was built to handle the traffic resulting from the opening of the Holland Tunnel in 1927. It carries traffic above the region’s heavy industrial and commercial areas. On its first day of operation, 48,611 cars used it; today the average is 85,000 according to the Department of Transportation. The skyway was an engineering marvel when opened in 1938: the American Institute of Steel Construction called it the most beautiful steel bridge, and it still is a grand structure. But its lanes are narrow, and after the tragic collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis that employed the same antiquated design, it’s again being reviewed. All of the 700-such bridges in the US lack a secondary support, “meaning that the failure of just one piece of steel could send them plummeting to the ground.”

NJ_PulaskiSkyway

NJ Governor Jon S. Corzine says that “instead of spending the $10 million a year now planned to keep the skyway safe and operational, it might be wiser to replace it,” but that would cost $1 billion. The bridge was inspected in spring 2007, but the NJ Department of Transportation, “citing security concerns, refused to release the records of that inspection or discuss whether the findings differed substantially from those of the previous inspection.” Another inspection was ordered after the Minneapolis collapse.

So the most recent data is from a 2004 inspection. On a scale of 0 to 9, with 9 being perfect and 0 requiring a shutdown, the skyway was rated 4 for the physical condition of its structural members and 5 for the physical condition of its piers and other substructure components.

According to the Times, “Those numbers are not dire. But the scores are similar to those assigned to the bridge in Minneapolis. It received a 4 for structure and 6 for substructure during its most recent inspection.” That makes it “structurally deficient” though “not a risk of imminent collapse.”

Although it is 35 years older than the Minneapolis span, it may actually be safer; since less was known about structural support then, more steel was often used than was needed. And because Jersey City banned trucks from the bridge in 1934, it’s taken less of a beating. That’s why officials want to assure drivers not to panic, that there’s plenty of time to plan for repairs or replacement. Let’s hope so.