Inside the City of Baltimore, Maryland (note that Baltimore City is not part of Baltimore County). About two miles south of downtown Baltimore.
Urban, within the city limits of Baltimore, and connecting commercial areas south of the river to an industrial area to the north.
Exit Hanover Street off of Interstate 95. The end of the bridge is at the Maryland Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and a boat ramp, both on the north side of the parking lot for Harbor Hospital. Although there is no dedicated parking lot for the memorial, boat ramp, or bridge, there is plenty of space in the hospital parking lot.
Middle Branch of the Patapsco River
The bridge carries two-lanes in each direction of Hanover Street, also known as Maryland Route 2. The bridge has a cement deck, except for the center portion of the bridge, which is movable and decked with steel mesh. The bridge has sidewalks on both sides for pedestrians.
Date plaque near the center of the bridge states "Bascule Span, Rall Patented Type, Designed and Built by Strobel Steel Construction Co., Chicago, ILL., 1916. The four corners of the movable central span have ornamental, small tender houses about 25 feet high. A bronze plaque on the cement abutment on the southern end dedicates the bridge as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, placed in 1993 by Chapter 451 Vietnam Veterans of America, Baltimore, Maryland.
None known. The bridge is fairly heavily used for local traffic flow between southern Baltimore and northern Anne Arundel County and downtown. Regional traffic flow follows Interstate 95 and other nearby highways. The 1934 thesis by John F. Maynard, less than 20 years after construction, documents major settling problems and need for re-construction at the northern end. In 2013, at least two of the spans on the northern approach appear almost new, suggesting that these settling problems have continued throughout the years, and have been corrected by additional re-constructions since 1934.
The bridge appears very grand from a distance, and was certainly very impressive back in 1916. However, it is now disappointing when viewed up close. Most of the traffic has long since been diverted onto highways, the bridge connects blue collar and industrial areas a substantial distance from downtown, and most residents probably do not even know it is there. The bridge is not well kept. There are many places where the cement facade is crumbling, revealing the inner steel supports. The tender houses are closed up, with the windows in their upper stories boarded up. The bridge gets little foot traffic, so the sidewalk is littered with garbage.
The overall design of this bridge was guided by J. E. Greiner, a noted engineering company with roots in Baltimore. The company also had a major office in Chicago.
The main span of this bridge is a bascule truss, while the approach spans are cantilever concrete arch bridges. In terms of rarity and historic engineering significance, each would be nationally significant as one of the only surviving examples of a complex and rare span type. To have them both on a single bridge only makes this bridge that more rare and significant. The steel bascule truss span is of the Rall type, one of only a few suriviving in the entire county. The Rall bascule operates by incorporating a trunnion around which the leaf rotates, while the trunnion itself rolls back on a track. Theodor Rall patented this design, and the patent was held by the Strobel Steel Construction Company.
The approach spans are concrete cantilever arch spans. In this sense they are one of the rarest concrete arch types that in a sense do not really function as arches, although visually they look like arches. However, there is no structural connection at the crown. From each pier, cantilever arms extend outward, these arms being able to independently support themselves without need for the cantilever arms on the adjacent piers to be present. Historical construction photos help illustrate this fact, see the historical articles linked above.
An original drawing of the reinforcing for the arch spans is shown below. As can be seen here, the arch ribs are reinforced with a steel truss system, and a tension eyebar runs from the ends of the cantilever arms to the top of the piers. This is nearly the same design chosen for Detroit's Belle Isle Bridge. Together, these two bridges are unique for this combination of the trussed ribs with tension eyebar.
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