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Ironwood Drive Bridge

Ernsberger Street Bridge, St. Joseph County Bridge 206

Ironwood Drive Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 2006 and April 8, 2012

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Ironwood Drive Over St. Joseph River
South Bend: St. Joseph County, Indiana: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1940 By Builder/Contractor: National Concrete Company of Indianapolis, Indiana

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
130 Feet (40 Meters)
Structure Length
479 Feet (146 Meters)
Roadway Width
51.8 Feet (15.79 Meters)
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This open-spandrel bridge is one of the larger structures in South Bend, featuring a larger vertical clearance that other examples. It is unclear whether the railings on the bridge are original or not. They utilize a design unlike the other South Bend bridges, but this could mean anything. The main arch superstructure however does appear to be intact, and still creates an impressive bridge to look at. A visit in 2012 revealed that the bridge has been repaired and coated with a sealant. This occurred sometime after the initial 2006 visit to the bridge. Previous rehabilitations had occured in 1969-1970 and in 2000.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Statement of Significance

Indiana's counties and cities built only a couple of open-spandrel bridges in the decade before the Second World War. The rings of this structure are unusually flat and the use of spandrel piers of additional note. While the replacement feck somewhat reduces the architectural integrity of the bridge, it retains all its original structural elements.

Architectural Description

Open-spandrel arches are more economical than the common solid-spandrel and filled arches only where the distance between the roadway and the stream and the volume which the watercourse carried were both considerable. In such circumstances the amount of concrete and reinforcement needed to compensate for the weight of the required fill and the length of the span sometimes tipped the balance towards open-spandrels. The more graceful appearance of open-spandrels sometimes contributed to their selection, especially in urban settings.

This is a three-span, open-spandrel structure flanked by four reinforced concrete approach spans at each end. Consisting of a pair of ribs, each symmetrical, rather segmental arch-ring spans 130' and springs from an inclined bed raised upon modestly decorated spandrel piers. Spandrel columns transfer the loads from the deck to the ribs. Extended about 10' beyond the columns and ribs on each side, floor beams carry the 52' concrete-slab roadway and the 5' sidewalks and metal railings. Clyde E. Williams and Associates designed the replacement deck, and the Foundation and Bridge Corporation built it.

 County Engineer R. J. Lang prepared plans for a 4-span filled spandrel arch estimated to cost $231,650; National Concrete successfully bid $159,500 to build 3 span open spandrel of Luten design; 478 feet long; 122-130 ft spans; 2 ribs per span; spandrel piers; new cantilevered slab deck (1970), removed balustraded rails and lampposts with cast bronze fixtures.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Luten


Photo Galleries and Videos: Ironwood Drive Bridge

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