This twelve span through truss bridge appears to be among the longest simple-spanning multiple span through truss highway bridges remaining in existence in both Indiana and Illinois, and perhaps ranks among the top in that category nationwide. As such, the bridge is historically and technologically significant as a major engineering achievement and an impressive example of how long bridges were construction during the period. Also right after this bridge is Maucks Pond Bridge. Although separate bridges, they should be considered a single historic resource.
Indiana and Illinois both decided that the best way to deal with such a beautiful and historically significant bridge is to demolish the Mt. Carmel Bridge. Maucks Pond Bridge is being replaced too. Such a decision is a clear display of how broken both surface transportation and historic preservation policy truly is in the United States. Since a new bridge is under construction on a new alignment, the historic bridge is not in the way of anything. There is absolutely no reason or point to waste money demolishing this bridge!
It is shameful enough that Indiana / INDOT would consider demolishing this historic bridge, however Illinois / IDOT is actually the lead agency for this state line bridge, which makes it even more appalling. Illinois has far less historic truss bridges than most states in the Midwest and Northeastern United States, and as such an extremely rare and significant multi-span bridge like this should be preserved without hesitation. As for Indiana, while the state has overall shown a strong commitment to historic bridge preservation, particularly on the local level, two points bear consideration. First, while locally owned bridges have been preserved, INDOT owned bridges (which include the majority of historic massive member state standard truss bridges in Indiana) are not being preserved. Second, preservation of historic bridges elsewhere does not excuse demolition of a particular bridge. Each bridge should be evaluated for preservation feasibility with common sense. In this case, with the new bridge constructed next to its replacement out of the way of the historic bridge, demolishing this historic bridge serves no other purpose than to destroy history, waste taxpayer dollars, and fill the pockets of scrap steel companies who get to cash in on historic bridge tragedies such as this.
What should be done instead? The bridge is currently safe for vehicular traffic and has no extremely serious problems, and as such, the bridge could likely stand next to its replacement either for pedestrian use or completely abandoned as a historic relic, for decades to come even without preservation work done on it. As such, the bridge should be left standing next to its replacement. The money that would have been used to demolish the bridge could be used to make repairs to the worst conditions on the bridge.
Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey
Statement of Significance
The current bridge replaced a long-used ferry crossing of the Wabash. Although not exceptional from a national perspective, the design of the trusses varies in many secondary ways from the IDH's patterns. The spans and the structure, though, are quite long by Indiana standards. A prolific Hoosier builder manufactured the trusses. Aside from contemporary guardrails, the bridge appears to retain all its original members.
The Mt. Carmel-Princeton Bridge Company filed
articles of incorporation with the Indiana Secretary of State in January
1927 to build a toll bridge across the Wabash River "if it is impossible
to secure adequate bridge construction in Indiana out of public funds."
The State of Illinois took the initiative in responding to the hint and,
in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Highways, designed a
twelve-span Parker through-truss structure of 2,700'. The Vincennes
Bridge Company built and erected the trusses upon a concrete
substructure for about $400,000.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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