Feb 10, 2012

Bridging Our History

Part of Don Cunningham's political patter as a candidate and elected official is repairing or replacing bridges in the county. When you replace a bridge which doesn't need replacing, you're wasting taxpayer money. When you replace a historic bridge which doesn't need replacing, you're stealing our culture

The Reading Road Bridge, scheduled by Cunningham for replacement, is in excellent condition. Although my observation and top photograph clearly shows that, I did confirm it's structural integrity with someone formally with the City engineering department.

The bridge was built in 1824 and totally rehabilitated in 1980. At that time a separate walking bridge was built next to it for pedestrian safety.*

Although the beautiful two arch stone bridge needs no work, and Cunningham has been in office since 2006, the steel beams of the walking bridge are in dire need of paint. How sad that inexpensive maintenance is ignored, while $million dollar projects are planned.
click on bridge photographs to enlarge image
An engineer familiar with the bridge told me that he if was asked by supervisors to justify replacing the bridge, he will cite flooding; He added that in reality it's a moot point, because the stream flow in high water situations is also impeded by the nearby Hamilton and Union street bridges.

UPDATE: The above post appeared in June of 2010. This past Wednesday, the bridge project was presented to the County Commissioners for approval. The newest member, Mike Schware, prevailed upon the Commissioners to postpone the deliberation. I would like to remind the Commissioners that Schreiber's Bridge is now handling the former north bound traffic from the 15th Street Bridge. Once replacement begins, Schreiber will be handling virtually all the traffic from the south side. Schreiber's is also a stone arch bridge, of the same design, built at the same time as the Reading Road Bridge. Although the 15Th Street bridge was built 130 years later, that's the one that now has to be replaced. I urge the Commissioners to make a good investment in our culture, history and budget, and allow the Reading Road Bridge to remain.


Bill said...

I totally agree with the points you are making. We have tremendous infrastructure needs...why would we spend a million dollars to replace a good bridge? These old bridges seem to have been built with a much longer design life than the ones that they are being replaced with. I live near all the bridges you referenced in this post and use them nearly every day and see no need to replace them.

Mike Schware said...

Michael -

Thank you for posting this again.

Just to clarify my position, I am not against the County Executive's focus on bridges. In fact, I think it's good that he has made a strong commitment to making sure our county bridges are safe, and in good repair.

In this instance, however, I think it's appropriate to look beyond the age of a structure and consider other factors. Many of those factors are well-stated in your post.

Thank you again for your concern for our historic structures, and for keeping your readers informed.

Anonymous said...

what does this mean?:

Bill 2 Shade Tree Amendment Amends Article 911, Shade Trees, Section 911.03 by requiring a permit and fee of $10 for each tree (not to exceed $100) for all work done to shade trees in the public-right-of-way, establishing a permit and fee of $10 fee to remove vegetation encroaching on the public right of way and establishing a license and annual $50 fee for professional tree services to perform arboricultural work in the city.

GW said...

Agree and hope the bridge will be reavaluated with the maintenance as you point out completed.Also its time to take a look at replacing the trestle bridge.Not sure if its considered a county bridge but since its closure new less costly design alternatives have been done in similar stream situations.