This historic bridge remained open to traffic until June of 2009 when a drunk driver severely damaged the bridge (at 9:00 AM, with a blood alcohol of .28, the characteristics of which include severe motor impairment, loss of consciousness, and memory blackout). In this state, the driver hit the modern Armco railing at the southwestern end of the bridge, careened off that and slammed into the hip vertical and endpost at the northeastern end, nearly shearing the hip vertical and bending and pushing the endpost off the caisson support, before finally apparently landing in the grass next to the bridge. The bridge however remained standing, despite loss of support at an endpost. Other members of the bridge remain largely undamaged. The fact that the bridge was pin connected allowed the impacted hip vertical to rotate around the pin when struck, which may have reduced the structure-wide shock and damage the bridge took compared to a pony truss with riveted connections, also perhaps helping prevent collapse. If the number of people who die as innocent victims on the road who get killed by drunk drivers is not enough evidence for the need to punish people who drive drunk more severely, then consider the cost in terms of historic bridges! Laws should be in place that anyone who destroys a historic bridge due to negligence or drunkenness be forced to pay for the bridge's complete restoration.
Vern Mesler was invited to inspect the damaged bridge to see if the historic bridge might still be relocated and preserved at a new location, because the county's managing director for the road commission was willing to leave the bridge standing abandoned until Mesler could figure out a way to save the bridge. Mesler determined that this bridge was feasible to restore and preserve. However, other members of the road commission were unwilling to wait to plan for the bridge's safe removal for preservation, and instead forced ahead with a bid to remove the bridge. Once the lowest bidding contractor was awarded the contract, Mesler lost all ability to acquire the bridge because the contractor insisted that Mesler pay the $4000 in scrap steel to acquire the bridge. Prior to this, standard practice (outlined by Section 106/Section4(f)) is to make historic bridges available for free if a preservation covenant is in place for whoever takes the bridge. This outlines one of the most serious flaws in the way historic bridges are treated in the United States. It should be illegal for a contractor to acquire scrap steel money from a bridge considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is immoral for anyone to profit directly from historic materials acquired through the demolition and removal of a historic bridge. Laws should be in place that provide for a special preservation fund in which any scrap money from a demolished historic bridge. This money would then be used toward future historic bridge perseveration projects within the state.
This stunning five panel pony truss is one of Michigan's more photogenic pony trusses, which may be old enough to be dated to the 1890s. This bridge is listed with a 1920 construction date in the bridge inventory. This date is obviously incorrect. Lightweight pin connected truss bridges with a 13 foot deck width were not being built in 1920. This bridge is visually noteworthy for its tall trusses, yet the bridge has very lightweight members and chords, immediately suggesting a relatively older construction date. The name "Jones and Laughlins" appears on the metal of the bridge. That iron/steel company dropped the "s" in the Laughlins name to become Jones and Laughlin in 1905, so the "s" indicates a pre-1905 bridge. Further, Vern Mesler's inspection of the bridge uncovered more factual evidence of the bridge's age, seen in the presence of tooth-edged sections of metal on the bridge, which point to metal cuts made on the bridge by creating a series of tiny holes, a method used because oxy-acetylene torches were not available yet. As such torches became available around 1908, the bridge is likely older than that date, due to this evidence. This is only further evidence of the bridges pre-1905 construction date.
The historic integrity of the bridge is excellent, despite the fact that the structure's original railings have unfortunately been replaced. The main span is seated on riveted caissons. A steel stringer span at each end provides an approach to the structure. Abutments are concrete. The deck is not original, including corrugated metal and an asphalt wearing surface.
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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