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Mystic River Bascule Bridge

Mystic River Bascule Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 27, 2019

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
US-1 (Main Street) Over Mystic River
Location
Mystic: New London County, Connecticut: United States
Structure Type
Metal Through Girder, Movable: Single Leaf Bascule (Brown) and Approach Spans: Metal Through Girder, Fixed

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2012
Main Span Length
85 Feet (26 Meters)
Structure Length
220 Feet (67 Meters)
Roadway Width
33 Feet (10.06 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
362

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View The Brown Bascule Bridge Patent

View Other Movable Bridge Patents By Thomas Brown

View Paper About Bridge Rehab

This bridge is one of the only surviving Brown type bascule bridges in the country, and the only one in Connecticut. It is an outstanding example and in a good state of preservation. The Brown bascule is distinguished by its overhead counterweight attached to a balance truss (sometimes called a rocking truss) which pivots on the counterweight tower on a fixed counterweight trunnion, while pulling up the bascule leaf via a link system. The bascule leaf rotates around a fixed main trunnion. As originally designed, and as presently operating following rehabilitation, operating machinery for this bridge is located below the deck level. A rack and pinion system is present, with the addition of an unusual large operating wheel that is visible above the deck level, this wheel being connected to the leaf via an operating strut.

This particular bridge is a single leaf bascule, uncommon since most highway bascule bridges are double leaf. The leaf is a through plate girder. The operating links and struts and the trunnions for the bridge are all out in the open enabling visitors to easily see how the bridge works. The bridge can raise to an almost perfect 90 degree angle.

The inventor and patent holder of the Brown bascule was Thomas E. Brown Jr. of New York, New York. The general contractor for the bridge was the J. E. Fitzgerald Company of New London, Connecticut. The superstructure contractor was the American Bridge Company of New York, New York.

In 2012, this bridge was extensively rehabilitated, representing a major preservation success story for one of the most significant historic bridges in the region. The machinery on the bridge was replaced, but an effort was made to replace these elements in-kind, even to the point of moving the motors back to their original location below the sidewalks. The motors had been moved above the roadway for many years after a hurricane flooding event. During rehabilitation, the massive counterweights had to have temporary girders and shoring under them to enable the repairs to take place. The trunnions were replaced, and to enable the new trunnions to slide into place easily, they were cooled with liquid nitrogen, which shrunk the steel. Once in place, they warmed and to normal temperature, expanding to the correct size. The consulting engineer for the rehab project was TranSystems.

Above: Bridge in raised position.

Above: Historical postcard showing original bridgetender house.

Above: Historical image showing previous bridge at location, a through truss swing bridge.

Above: Historical image showing previous bridge at location, a through truss swing bridge.

Above: Earlier bridge at this location, a rare Truesdell truss swing bridge built 1866 by A.D. Briggs & Co. of Springfield, Massachusetts and replaced in 1904.

Above: Earlier bridge at this location, a rare Truesdell truss swing bridge built 1866 by A.D. Briggs & Co. of Springfield, Massachusetts and replaced in 1904.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Mystic River Bascule Bridge

 
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Boat Passage and Bridge Being Lowered
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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Maps and Links: Mystic River Bascule Bridge

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