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Ashtabula Bridge

Ashtabula Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 6, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Bridge Street (OH-531) Over Ashtabula River
Location
Ashtabula: Ashtabula County, Ohio: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Rivet-Connected Polygonal Warren Through Truss, Movable: Bascule (Brown) and Approach Spans: Concrete Slab, Fixed

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2008
Main Span Length
160 Feet (48.77 Meters)
Structure Length
223 Feet (67.97 Meters)
Roadway Width
20 Feet (6.1 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
406635

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

View The Brown Bascule Bridge Patent

View Other Movable Bridge Patents By Thomas Brown

This bridge is one of the only surviving Brown type bascule bridges in the country, and the only one in Ohio. It is a large and outstanding example in a good state of preservation. The Brown bascule is distinguished by its overhead counterweight (of relatively small size) 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. Operating machinery is located on the counterweight tower. A rack and pinion system is present, this 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 polygonal Warren through truss. The bridge is very attractive, with nice looking railings and the trusses themselves provide geometric art. Although an overhead counterweight design, the counterweight is not very large, and does not visually detract from the bridge. The operating links and struts for the bridge are all out in the open enabling visitors to easily see how the bridge works.

Wendell P. Brown of Cleveland, Ohio was the designing and consulting engineer. He was not related to the inventor and patent holder of the Brown bascule, which was Thomas E. Brown Jr. of New York, New York. Kelly-Atkinson Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois was the superstructure contractor. Fort Pitt Bridge Works of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the steel fabricator. The Fawcus Machine Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the machinery contractor. The American Construction Company of Cleveland, Ohio was the substructure contractor. The electrical contractor was the Fowler Electrical Supply Company of Toledo, Ohio

The historic bridge inventory says that the rehabilitation included a new truss span. This is not correct, the truss is original, but was repaired. The truss leaf was floated away for repair off-site.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

The bridge carries a 2 lane street and sidewalks over the Ashtabula River in the downtown area adjacent to the port.

Summary of Significance

The bridge was designed by Kelly-Atkinson Construction Company of Chicago in 1925 and fabricated by the Ft. Pitt Bridge Works. It is a rare and significant example of the Mystic-type of Brown Bascule bridge invented by Thomas E. Brown of New York. The bridge was designed by Wendell P. Brown (no relation). Determined eligible for the National Register in 1978 (listed 1985) for its unique design and operation. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1985-1987 by Union Industrial Contractors, Ashtabula. The project was designed by Richland Engineering Limited. The work included new roadway concrete filled steel grid deck, new truss span, galvanized steel stringers and floor beams, reconstruction of truss member lower chord connections, steel deterioration repairs, new sidewalks, reconstructed steel railing, new concrete railing and light poles, new west abutment, new timber fenders in the river, new operators house and machinery room, complete cleaning and painting, machinery overhaul, new driver motors, new brakes, new SCR drive control system. New toe lock system, new lighting, new traffic gates and barricades, new electrical system, new submarine cable, new standby generator, new television observation system, . The moving truss span was completely removed from the bridge location by floating the span on a barge. The rehabilitation project cost @ $3,000,000 and was paid with federal, state and county funds. The bridge has an operator on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week from April to December. The bridge opens on the hour and half hour when there is river traffic. There were 2,891 lifts in 2003. (source 2005, Richland Engineering, Preliminary Engineering Study).

Justification

Once common in cities with navigable rivers off the lake like Cleveland, Toledo and Ashtabula, many vehicular examples have been replaced by high rise bridges. Five bascule bridges remain dating from 1920 through 1956. The railroads preferred swing span, vertical lift and rolling lift types where their lines crossed navigable rivers. This is a rare national example of the Brown design. There is also one at Mystic, CT, and it is recognized as historic as well.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Ashtabula Bridge

 
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CarCam: Southwestbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
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CarCam: Northeastbound Crossing
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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