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Fulton Lucas Road Bridge

Fulton Lucas Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 15, 2007

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Fulton Lucas Road (CR-1) Over Tenmile Creek
Location
Rural: Fulton County, Ohio and Lucas County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1928 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1980
Main Span Length
56 Feet (17.07 Meters)
Structure Length
59 Feet (17.98 Meters)
Roadway Width
23.3 Feet (7.1 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
4830768

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

Although their appearance is quite different, this bridge functionally appears to be based on the ideas behind the unique concrete curved chord through girder bridges designed and built in Michigan. The design was simple, yet it was not known to be built widely outside of Michigan's borders. Ohio has a small number of remaining concrete curved chord girders, however and each remaining example should be considered historically significant. The design essentially consisted of taking the standard concrete girder bridge and adding an arch shape to the girders. This was likely done to increase strength, improve efficient use of materials, and enhance the physical appearance of the structure. Ohio did not build as many of the unusual curved chord through girder design Most of Ohio's concrete curved chord through girders do not appear to be larger than 60 feet, and many appear to be right at that sixty foot length.

This bridge is an example of the most common Ohio design, with distinct end posts, a smooth curve, and inset rectangles on the girder face.

HistoricBridges.org disagrees with not only the Not Eligible finding of the Historic Bridge Inventory, but also the philosophy upon which that decision was based. Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory basically wrote every single curved chord through girder off as Not Eligible, failing to list even large, early, or unaltered examples as significant. The reason given for this was apparently because the bridges did not contribute to the development of bridges in Ohio. However, HistoricBridges.org still believes the bridges are important in the context of Ohio bridge history because they document the fact that the development of bridge design was not perfect, and in some cases, bridge types were proliferated throughout the state before engineers ultimately decided that they were not the best type of bridge to be building. Also, the inventory makes the comment that the curved aspect of the girder is "not aesthetic." While certainly, the curve of the girder serves an engineering purpose, it actually does also serve an aesthetic purpose, since curves are an aesthetic element in bridge design. A separation of aesthetic and structural purpose may be required in modern bridges, where aesthetics are (if present at all) are confined to superficial decorations on the bridge. However, with historic bridges like this one, aesthetics and structural function were not exclusive. Engineers developed aesthetics that were not superficial but were instead functional parts of the bridge structure. This bridge is an example of this technique.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural area of active farms.

Physical Description

The 1-span, 59'-long, reinforced-concrete thru girder bridge has paneled, shaped girders with blocky end posts and articulated floorbeams. It is supported on concrete abutments.

Integrity

Alterations in 1980 unspecified and not apparent from photos.

Summary of Significance

The 1928 thru girder bridge is a late and undistinguished example of a standardized bridge type in use from the mid 1910s to 1930s. It is not technologically significant. Reinforced-concrete thru girder bridges are composed of a pair of cast-in-place longitudinal girders and transverse floorbeams or deck slab (the former is the case with most Ohio examples) that are connected by the arrangement of the steel reinforcing bars. The roadway passes between the paired girders, which are the main supporting members and also serve as railings. The girders are commonly very large in appearance (18" to 30" wide and 4' to 6' deep) and have deep panels to save on weight. The depth of the girders is related to span length with the longer the span the greater the depth. In many cases, the girders are shaped to achieve the greatest depth of beam at mid-span where it is required to support the design moments (stresses). The shaped girder is a design detail to accommodate longer and/or wider spans and/or heavier design loads, it is not aesthetic.

Like other reinforced-concrete bridge types, including the slab and T beam, the thru girder appeared nationally and in Ohio during the first decade of the 20th century. The oldest surviving example in the state, dated to 1905, is located in Morrow County (5930669, Phase 1A Survey, 2008). In Ohio, the type does not appear to have been widely used until after its adoption as a state standard in 1915. Of the approximately 60 identified surviving examples, only three are confirmed to predate 1915. Between 1915 and 1924, the department issued standard plans for thru girder bridges in span lengths ranging from 27' to 65' and roadway widths from 16' to 24', which account for the vast number of Ohio's surviving examples. They also developed an unusual, and perhaps unique to Ohio, cantilevered thru girder design that was adopted as a standard in 1922. The only known surviving example of the cantilevered design is in Gallia County (2742322).

The thru girder bridge type played a prominent role in state and county efforts to improve Ohio's roads and bridges in the 1920s, but over time it proved to be one of the least successful of the standard designs and its use was diminishing by 1929 and had ended by 1940. The majority of Ohio's surviving examples (35 of 60) date from 1922 to 1930. Over time, the thru girder proved to be less economical than T beams for the same range of span lengths and was limited to relatively narrow roadway widths (about 24' max.). By 1928, George A. Hool, a noted authority on reinforced-concrete bridge construction, reported that "from a standpoint of economy, the thru girder should not be built except where insufficient headroom or other local conditions prevent the use of the deck girder [T beam]." Thru girders were also difficult to widen, a concern that was increasingly on the minds of bridge engineers by the late 1920s.

The body of engineering knowledge soon reached the conclusion that thru girders were not as successful or versatile as other standard types. The thru girder can be viewed as a 'dead end' in the evolution of bridge technology, and this limits the bridge type's significance. Many state highway departments did not use thru girders or stopped building them in the 1920s. And even though Ohio's engineers continued to use thru girders somewhat longer than engineers in many other states, they reached the same conclusions about their disadvantages. The thru girder's contribution to the historical development of Ohio's highways simply was not as great as many other standard types because of its limitations and shorter period of use.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No

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Maps and Links: Fulton Lucas Road Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
41.712830,-83.880290

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