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Hook-Waltz Road Girder Bridge

Hook-Waltz Road Girder Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 6, 2014

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Hook-Waltz Road Over Little Cranberry Creek
Location
Rural: Allen County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1926 By Builder/Contractor: Pandora Cement Block Company

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
24 Feet (7.3 Meters)
Structure Length
27 Feet (8.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
18 Feet (5.49 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
243329

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

This historic bridge was demolished and replaced in 2014!

This bridge was one of the smallest examples of a concrete curved girder in Ohio, with a span shorter than most straight chord girders in most states. It was unaltered and retained a builder plaque.

Ohio along with Michigan appears to have built more concrete curved chord through girders than other states. In Ohio, such bridges are generally small both in span length and in visual appearance of the girders. They come in a few different layouts in terms of the most common architectural treatments.

Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory made the decision to write off nearly all examples of concrete through girder bridges as non-historic. In particular, Ohio's curved chord through girder bridges were included in this exclusion. Only a handful of states have been found to have concrete curved chord through girder bridges, and Ohio is along with neighboring Michigan one of only two states that seems to have built this unusual and aesthetically pleasing variety of concrete girder in any notable quantity. This decision to exclude concrete through girder bridges is very unusual, and is in direct conflict with the historic bridge inventory of neighboring Michigan. Even more unusual, one of the reasons given for this decision is because the concrete through girder bridge never became popular and never directly led to a popular bridge type. This statement does not take into account the importance of documenting and preserving bridges that are of an unsuccessful bridge type. They nevertheless document the evolution of bridge design in America, and because the bridge type never led directly to other similar bridge types, this means surviving examples are uncommon. Concrete girder bridges demonstrate that concrete was an experimental bridge material in the early 20th Century. Bridge builders had not yet realized that concrete could be used to build more efficient and adaptable bridge types, and instead used concrete to adapt familiar bridge types like the through plate girder into a concrete equivalent. The effect of excluding this bridge type has been profound in Ohio. Concrete through girder bridges are being demolished and replaced at a very rapid rate and soon there may be no surviving examples remaining in the state. It would have been nice to see some of the more intact examples of this bridge type identified as historic: representative examples of a specific bridge type that was briefly popular during a period of Ohio's history.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

Physical Description

The 1 span, 27'-long, reinforced-concrete thru girder bridge has paneled, shaped girders and articulated floorbeams.

Summary of Significance

The 1925 thru girder bridge is an 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: Hook-Waltz Road Girder Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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