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This bridge is an outstanding example of a cantilever through truss bridge. The bridge's main spans include a seven panel suspended truss span as part of the center (channel) span. The design of the cantilever spans overall is traditional, with no particularly unusual details. However, bridges like this are rapidly being demolished and replaced across the country, so this bridge is today historically significant and increasingly rare.
Klug and Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the superstructure contractor while Minneapolis Bridge Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota was the substructure contractor.
In addition to the cantilever truss spans, the bridge also includes an impressive series of deck truss approach spans. Perhaps overlooked by casual viewers, the approach spans are just as interesting as the main spans. The approaches of the bridge are curved. The westernmost deck truss has an unusual design where the bottom chord steps down from the abutment to the pier. The deck truss spans have three truss lines. Another interesting feature is the stairways that are midway along the approach spans at each end of the bridge and allow pedestrians to climb up to the bridge sidewalk. The stairway at the western end (heavily documented in the photo galleries) is more extensive than the eastern one. The western stairway includes a crossover stairway that passes under the deck truss allowing pedestrians to switch which sidewalk they are walking on without walking across the roadway. Incidentally, the walway under the bridge also provides a convenient and interesting view through the bracing of the deck truss spans.
The bridge rests on handsomely designed concrete piers. Original lighting mounts remain on the bridge in the form of riveted steel bars. Another noteworthy observation is that the original riveted sidewalk railings remain on the bridge.
This bridge is an exceedingly rare example of an outstanding preservation solution. Rather than waste money and history demolishing and replacing the historic bridge, to increase the volume that this crossing can serve a second bridge was built next to the historic bridge, forming a one-way couplet of bridges. This is a great way to increase traffic capacity for historic bridges that are too narrow for additional lanes. It also provides redundancy for the crossing. Should one bridge require repairs or need to be closed for some reason, the other bridge can temporarily operate as a two-way bridge. Despite all these benefits, one-way couplets are rarely used, which is unfortunate. The replacement bridge does not overly obstruct the views of the historic bridge, as many nice angles are available north of the historic bridge and the new bridge is located to the south.
This crossing also makes an interesting comparison between historic bridges and modern bridges. The modern bridge's main span is, as modern bridges go, fairly attractive looking, even if it lacks the geometric complexity of a historic bridge. The modern bridge's main span is a steel through arch. But what about the modern bridge's approach spans? It would be hard to describe those as anything other than hideously ugly, composed of huge, plain steel beams. But in contrast, the historic bridge, with its beautiful main spans, also has approach spans composed with attractive deck trusses. With modern bridges, the goal is always simplicity, and that simplicity usually results in bridges that are boring and unattractive. Even when an attempt to produce an attractive modern bridge is made, as with this modern bridge, it is still highly minimalistic.
The previous bridge at this location was a low level crossing, consisting of pin-connected through truss spans including a swing span. One of the spans was destroyed in a vehicle collision in 1935.
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