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This bridge is like a movable monumental bridge, and it is one of the largest bascule bridges ever built. Even when closed, the bridge still offers considerable clearance for boats. The mighty bascule leaves open up to a 45 degree angle. This is not as far as other bascule bridges can open (some can open to near 90 degrees), but given the bridge's high clearance in the closed position, this opening angle was apparently sufficient.
This bridge also is unusual because it is a movable braced ribbed through arch bridge. Most movable bridges feature a truss bridge superstructure or a plate girder superstructure. The bridge also enjoys an incredible amount of local significance as it is the only highway bascule bridge in the entire state, in addition to its high level of national significance for its size and unusual design. Finally, the bridge features impressive a number of large deck arch spans that provide an approach to the structure. This bridge underwent a restoration, and the photos for this bridge were taken while this work was underway. The bridge was closed to all traffic during these renovations.
The bridge's bascule span is a rolling lift bascule bridge designed by the patent holding Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. It was designed with the assistance of noteworthy engineer J. E. Greiner, who had offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Chicago, Illinois. Vang Construction Company of Cumberland, Maryland built the concrete arch approach spans, with Toledo Bridge and Crane Company of Toledo, Ohio fabricated the bascule span, while Chicago-based Kelly-Atkinson Construction Company, which was noted for its involvement with many Chicago bascule bridges, erected the bascule span.
According to an August 1919 issue of Michigan Architect and Engineer, "The bridge is so designed that in the open position it acts as a double leaf cantilever. In the closed position the dead load is carried as a cantilever, and the live load is carried as a three hinged arm." In other words, when open, the bascule leafs act as cantilever trusses, but when closed, the bridge functions as a three hinged arch. The article also mentions the bridge has 1200 tons of structural steel and 90 tons of machinery and castings. It advertises an opening time of 1.5 minutes and a total contract price of $170,000.00
Video of the bridge being lowered after a boat passes through in 2015 is available on YouTube.
Above: Photo of bridge in raised position after rehabilitation. Photo courtesy TDOT.
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