A Replacement Bridge

Sometimes in transportation, our bridges cannot be saved (which can only be said after a Section 4(f) evaluation). Reasons often relate to safety or structural deficiency or loss of integrity, among other items. It’s a complex law and evaluation. Large bridges like the Champlain Bridge are rare projects; often bridge projects are much smaller.

Remember the Newfane Bridge?

The 1945 Newfane Bridge.

Recently I drove through Newfane and saw its replacement. It was a historic bridge located within a historic district. To the public this means that a bridge replacement (if determined to be the only feasible and prudent alternative) will be a context sensitive solution; i.e., compatible with its surroundings.

Looking east. May 2013.

Looking east. May 2013.

Looking to the west. May 2013.

Looking to the west. May 2013.

The approach rail.

The approach rail.

The railing, endwall, and approach rail.

The railing, endwall, and approach rail.

The endwall with guardrail inset.

The endwall with guardrail inset.

Side view of the bridge girder and railing.

Side view of the bridge girder and railing.

New bridges will not look like the old bridges due to engineering designs, traffic safety, modern vehicles, modern materials, etc. How do you, as a historic preservationist, or a community member feel about historic bridge replacement?

Preservation Photos #123

The construction date (1921) of this concrete bridge was inscribed on the end rather than the side of the end wall. Typically, if inscribed in the concrete, you'll see it framed in a panel. Perhaps this one was done by hand? This bridge is located on Justin Morrill Highway in Strafford, VT.

Preservation Photos #105

A temporary bridge installed over an art deco style concrete bridge. The temporary roadway was raised above the existing road. Breaks the part of heart that loves little concrete bridges.

Abandoned Vermont: Wheelock Schoolhouse

While traveling the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a few friends and I came across a deteriorated concrete bridge. I have a newfound adoration for concrete bridges so we paused to look at it. When we turned to the side we saw an abandoned building that looked partially like a general store and partially like a school. It was boarded up so we couldn’t see much, but it was (of course) fascinating.

Small concrete bridges are all over backroads of Vermont. This one dates to 1934.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to concrete bridges that are not maintained. Another sad story for another post...

Located at the crossroads - a logical location. Interesting additions, yes?

It’s hard to figure out the history of the building without stepping inside, but I have some guesses. The front gable has “1924” in the peak, so that makes sense for a school (see the window picture, too). I peaked in where I could (without trespassing, fyi) and it seems like this was most recently a residence. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it served as some sort of store, too.

Another view of the front.

See where it is boarded up? The long line of windows always indicated a 1920s/30s schoolhouse, when light and more sanitary buildings were very important in education reform. Usually there are at least 4 windows (judging by what I've seen so far - sometimes 6 or 7). This one has 5 windows.

A mattress frame, a window in front of a window. What gets left behind in abandoned buildings in often puzzling.

Layers of siding. Also, the rear addition (beginning on the right) was just abutting the front building, barely attached at all.

Often, the worst part about abandoned buildings is the feeling that they will be abandoned forever and eventually fall. What stories lie in this building, just sitting lonely on a dirt road in the Northeast Kingdom.