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Balyeat Field Bridge

Balyeat Field Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Randy Mulder

Bridge Documented: October 20, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Park Walkway Over Nash Creek
Location
Sparta: Kent County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

This historic bridge was demolished and replaced by Sparta Village!

This pony truss bridge over Nash Creek is used as a pedestrian access to Balyeat Field in the Village of Sparta.  The field is used for soccer, as well as occasional festivals and such.  According to a folder of local historic sites (Sparta Historical Commission), the bridge was originally located a few hundred feet west on Union Street. The Union Street Bridge itself is rather old and fairly interesting itself, and dating to 1937, it is assumed that this is the date the pony truss was moved here to serve as a park access bridge. The pony truss itself stylistically dates to ca. 1905. The pony truss has been altered by the replacement and narrowing of the floorbeams and deck/flooring system. The truss webs themselves appear to retain good historic integrity. Structurally the truss as a whole appears sound, however the bottom chord suffers from widespread 100% section loss and in some panels the bottom chord is broken or missing. There also is 100% section loss at the base of the end posts. Despite this deterioration, restoration of this bridge would not be difficult. Restoration would include replicating a new bottom chord and welding plate metal on the base of the end post. Replacement of bridge shoe and bearings may also be needed since it was encased in concrete and this tends to trap moisture and increase deterioration. The majority of the truss however remains sound and would only require routine repair and restoration work.

Despite the feasibility of preservation, demolition and replacement was the fate of this bridge. One of the reasons cited was the fact that stairs provide an approach to the bridge which is not accessible and ADA compliant. However, it would have actually be possible to reconstruct the approach to be a ramp, and then simply restore and reuse the truss, and this was the solution that HistoricBridges.org would have recommended. Although this bridge was altered and not extremely significant on a state level, the bridge had heritage value particularly on a local scale. Because the bridge was only serving non-motorized traffic, this was a bridge that deserves preservation and for which preservation was feasible. The replacement bridge, which is exceedingly ugly and little more than a slab of concrete provides a sharp contrast to the heritage and beauty provided in the riveted construction of the historic bridge.

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