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calendar   Saturday - September 29, 2012

The Berk Still Works

Weekend Wallpaper



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These pictures are pretty much brand new, both taken in August.

Visit RailPictures.net for thousands more.

The “Berk” in this case is the Nickel Plate Road engine 765, a 2-8-4 Berkshire locomotive. Built in 1944, this anthracite eating 400 ton chugger is again making steam and delighting rail fans around the northern mid-west.

Read a bit more about her here. And here as well. And there are loads of pics and videos as close as your nearest search engine.

For more about the Nickel Plate Road, aka the NKP, which is the TLA that the NPR actually goes by, because “New York, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad Company” takes too long to say, venture over here.

Bridges? Nah, I’m not saying anything about those two, although the stone one is quite famous. And the other one is wrought iron.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/29/2012 at 03:50 AM   
Filed Under: • BridgesFun-Stuffplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Wednesday - September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Buttzville

Your bridge is 110 years old.

Built in 1902. And she never looked better.

Well done.


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The bridge on Mill Street in Buttzville in Warren County NJ is the kind of somewhat rare truss called a Double Intersection Warren through truss, because it’s a triangular Warren truss with another triangular Warren truss superimposed on top of it, offset half a length, and it’s the kind of bridge that goes up high and is connected over your head, so it’s a through type, not a pony type. A Double (intersection) Warren is very easy to confuse with a Howe truss, which were common at the time, although Howes always have all the verticals. The bridge in the picture only has hip verticals under the end end posts. Unfortunately, none of the variations of the Warren truss have any special names, so this one isn’t a Parker, or a Camel, or a Petite, or a Baltimore, or any of the nice names that the variations of Pratt truss have (if it were a Pratt it would be a Whipple). Lame, but I don’t set the rules.

This one is almost completely original, save for a few dozen rivets replaced with nuts and bolts over the past 110 years.  The floor of the bridge is 6” timber, and that is brand new. An inch or so of asphalt goes over that as a wearing surface for you to drive on. The floor beams may be original; if not, then at least they are proper I beams and not the wide flange H beams used today.

Barely a block away is where the north-south road to Princeton (Route 31) meets the west-east road to New York City (Route 46). Thousands and thousands of cars and trucks hammering down the highway every single day, just behind the white house in the back of this picture. But one block back, here on Mill Street, time stopped long ago.

In the half hour I took to photograph this bridge, which is only 10 minutes up the road from where I bowl every week, not even one vehicle crossed the bridge. A couple of crows flew by, and I swear the trout in the stream were watching me when my shadow fell on them. But that’s it.  Just like in my county, the modern world exists mostly on the main roads. A block or two back and it’s whatever year you want it to be, except you’ve got HDTV and internet and modern stuff whenever you want.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/26/2012 at 01:10 AM   
Filed Under: • BridgesHistory •  
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calendar   Saturday - September 22, 2012

To me this has meaning

I got a Parker.

And it’s a Camel.

And it’s a Pony.

And mine has skew!

And you don’t have one.

So neener neener!




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The metal across the top of a truss bridge is called the top chord. Most of the time it’s flat, going in a straight line from one side to the other. Sometimes it has a bit of an arch to it, like this one. That’s called a polygonal top chord. When you have a Pratt truss, like this one, in which the inner diagonals all point towards the middle of the bridge, and you have that arched top chord, that kind of bridge is called a Parker. Each chunk of a truss bridge between the vertical beams is called a section. When you have a Parker that has exactly 5 angled bits in it’s top chord, regardless of how many sections down below, that’s called a camelback, or a camel. When you have a bridge that has no overhead works - in other words, it’s just two sides sticking up, with no bars running across above you - that’s called a pony truss.  Skew is when one end is longer than the other, or offset a bit, because bridges rarely cross things at perfect right angles.

So what you’re looking at would have been mighty rare back in the once upon a time era: a skewed camelback pony truss. But in this modern era, where wide flange H beams have long since pushed I beams aside, and instead of rivets and pins we have gusset plate welding, you can do just about anything and it makes a good strong bridge. So making one out of one of the two pinnacle truss designs (ie a camelback truss and a half subdivided Warren truss) is a bit like gilding the lily, but it makes for a mighty strong bridge. You could drive tanks across this one if they’d fit. All of them, sir.

But still ... modern or not ... a Parker Pony. Neener neener! Neener neener!!



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Going full circle: in the foreground is a wooden Kingpost, the most simple and oldest truss design; it’s older than islam. Put weight in the middle and it stretches the vertical iron rods downwards, which in turn pull on the wooden “A frame” boards, squeezing them together and downwards, and that downwards is applied at the ends of the bridge. So when you think it would bend down in the middle from your weight, it’s actually trying to bend down at the ends, and thus stays flat and can carry more than twice what a plain flat bridge of it’s size and materials can. This truss gets used everywhere, including in the roof of your house. And if you notice, there’s an upside down kingpost in the middle of the Camelback in the background. Because nothing is every really new all by itself.

My MIL had to be taken to the hospital at 10pm tonight ... this is not a positive sign. Won’t be much sleep for me tonight.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/22/2012 at 01:56 AM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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calendar   Friday - August 31, 2012

In Which Drew Learns What Bridge Horns Are For

I’d seen these the other week and had no idea what they were for


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I thought maybe they were for hanging Christmas lights from, or for stringing barbed wire to in high crime areas.  I was sort of half right. They are for stringing wires to.


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So when I saw them again today I stopped and asked somebody. They’re temporary offset arms for holding cable that a great big tarp will be hung from, so that when the bridge painters go to work chipping all the paint off it doesn’t fall into the river. And the tarp also lets them work when it rains. And when they’re all done, the horns come off.

But I laugh at my fertile imagination, naming them “ears” or “horns” to myself. Bridge horns. Beep beep.

PS - yes, these two bridges are almost identical. Same age (1890), same size, same plan, different builders. Both started life as one lane bridges over mill streams along dirt roads, both are now two lane bridges down Main Street in their towns.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/31/2012 at 09:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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calendar   Thursday - August 30, 2012

Holiday Requiem In August

It’s Not Just Me



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county residents love their bridge, especially at Christmas



Next To Last Christmas for White Bridge Road Bridge.

See? Other folks understand the allure of having a 120 year old chunk of iron in your neighborhood. It’s got looks. It’s got charm. It’s got those! I love those on a woman bridge! Plus it keeps the speeds down, and it keeps giant trucks from using your street as a short cut or a bypass route.

But as much as they love their old white bridge - and they love it enough that the last time the county painted it, painted it county green when it’s the only bridge on WHITE BRIDGE ROAD (duh), the locals came out at night and painted it white again - it’s literally on it’s last leg. And that leg is rusting. The thing is falling down, victim of too many beatings, too much rust, and just not being built strong enough to begin with.

Read all about it, and look at some sad pictures, here.  But see happy holiday pictures here!!

No official time has been set for the bridges demolition as far as I know; discussions are still under way more than 3 years later, federal funds have been spent, state funds have been gathered, and a tentative date of June 2013 has been floated. We’ll see.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/30/2012 at 07:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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calendar   Friday - August 24, 2012

Old Local Good News

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I for one am glad of it. We’ve got radon here, one of the highest concentrations in the entire world. So it’s no surprise to me that there’s something else radioactive underground. I’m just glad there wasn’t enough of it to make a going mine, or else we’d have pale green slag heaps everywhere, and the steady tick-ticking of Geiger counters.

I walked to Pennsylvania and back 3 times today yet only strolled for a bit over a mile. I never took the same way more than once. And there is a river between here and there, a significant one.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/24/2012 at 01:17 AM   
Filed Under: • BridgesHistory •  
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calendar   Thursday - August 23, 2012

Villagers With Torches?

I knew we had a covered bridge in my county, but I didn’t know the story behind it. Oh, those radical Red State clingers! Yes, in New Jersey. Conservatives in touch with tradition and history.


An Aroused Group Of Citizens



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This is the last public covered bridge in New Jersey. It was erected in 1872 on abutments dating back to colonial times. Damaged in 1960, the superstructure of this bridge was completely dismantled and removed to make way for a conventional span. However, in 1961, as a result of the efforts of AN AROUSED GROUP OF CITIZENS, the state of New Jersey, using the materials of the original covered bridge, fully restored this link with the past.

Well done. But to be fair, what they got back from the government may not have been exactly what they expected. Or perhaps even wanted. But it was what they needed though.

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The wooden truss inside the bridge is massive. The baulks are 15” across. The truss has iron rods for verticals. While wooden bridge truss designs are often called King Post, Queen Post, Long, or Howe, because of this one’s “double V” design it could just as easily be considered to be a double Warren with alternate verticals. Which would make it rather cutting edge, for 1872. But while the great wooden truss remains, and the thick wooden deck with rough planks bolted on gives passing vehicles that bump-a-dump-bump “crossing an old time bridge” sensation, the truss isn’t really doing anything more than holding the roof up. All the weight is born by the completely modern underpinnings, starting with the 24” tall I beam stringers crossing the creek and the slightly smaller floor beams and diagonals supporting the 4x12 wooden floor joists. This one only looks old and delicate on top. Underneath it’s a modern mini-monster.

This is the way that old bridges survive in the modern world. When the new bridge was put in back in 1961, just inches away from where this covered bridge now stands, it was built with even mightier beams which let it handle any kind of traffic load AND a set of picturesque stone side walls a foot and a half thick.

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Those beams underneath have to be three feet tall if they’re an inch. So traffic goes north on the open stone walled bridge, and south on the wooden covered bridge, and does it without weight limits or without even slowing down. Because 99% of all the drivers behind the wheel are just too damn busy getting on with their own lives, getting to where they have to be as fast as they can, to even notice where they are. There’s an observation about life in there somewhere ... if you’re willing to take the time to slow down and think about it.

However, since the covered bridge is only 84 feet long it is pretty comical to see front end of a full size tractor trailer come blasting out the south end of the bridge while the back end is still going in. Kind of like in those cartoons where the dachshund dog sticks out of both ends of the doghouse at the same time. And if you follow this link and look at the last picture added in the comments section, you’ll see that the entire wooden superstructure - the truss, the roof, and the walls - is supported by “puny” little 4” I beam stubs welded on to the main beams almost as an afterthought. That’s how strong modern steel is, that’s how weak even massive hardwood wooden trusses are, and it’s an indication of just how strong this “new” bridge really is: you could drive tanks across it if they’d fit inside.




I know. I know. Another boring ass bridge post by Drew, from his going crazy period. But I liked the “aroused citizens” part ... and I won’t bore you with the 2 turn of the century pony trusses I found up the road, nor with YET ANOTHER 1870s Phoenix column through truss 3 miles down the road from this one. Hunterdon County is an easy place to be a bridge spotter. You can get your fix every 100 yards or so, with fancy ones and historical ones hidden in the weeds every couple of miles.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/23/2012 at 02:29 PM   
Filed Under: • BridgesHistory •  
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calendar   Friday - August 17, 2012

A roll full of miracles

Duct tape - it fixes everything!
It even works for bridge repairs!



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wooden joists sistered in around the steel ones, held in place with duct tape

on the TISCO half-subdivided 5 section polygonal top chord Warren pony truss

Union Forge Park, High Bridge, New Jersey




Ok, I’m being a tiny bit silly, but the duct tape is there, and it was used to hold the boards in place when the new decking was laid down. And the thing that is annoying about Warren truss bridges is that none of the variations ever got specific names; had this been a polygonal top chord Pratt truss it would have been called a Parker, and since this one has a 5 section top chord that Parker would be called a Camelback. And on a Parker, the half-subdivided aspect would probably make this one a “K Camelback”, since you get a “K” when you subdivide the top part of the diagonal on a Parker. Or any Pratt actually.

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But on the whole, who cares? It’s an odd little bridge in the middle of a steel factory that existed since colonial times. And that factory is both a public park and an active business.  The bridge crosses the South Branch of the Raritan River of course, as do all my bridges so far; it’s about 3 miles downstream from the one I posted the other day. But this bridge doesn’t quite fit in with all the rest, since it’s only a single span pony. And it’s the wrong color. And all that barbed wire makes it quite unfriendly. And it was never made to carry more than foot traffic, or perhaps a single horse and carriage. It’s undated, and in C- condition, and obviously somebody got at it with a welding torch and access to the county’s spare bridge parts bin and tacked on that 1900’s yellow railing that was probably snagged from some other local bridge. I’d guess this bridge was made in the 1920s, but that could be anywhere from 1915-1945. The abutments of a far older span are just 75 yards downstream, and a much newer girder bridge is just 25 yards upstream, somewhat visible in the left picture above.


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Some people get their exercise by going for a walk. Me too, plus I immerse myself in history at the same time. It’s worth a 10 minute drive.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/17/2012 at 10:30 PM   
Filed Under: • BridgesHistory •  
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calendar   Tuesday - August 14, 2012

local fame


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You see these things everywhere out on the roads. Any place there is road work. Any place the road crews are widening a lane, repaving a bit of highway, whatever. I gather that these portable concrete short protective walls are called Jersey Barriers everywhere on the planet ... except in New Jersey. We just call them “those concrete things in the road”. Which is funny, because they’re from here actually. My own very local part of from here, actually.

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Small claim to fame, I know. But like the great Jersey Divide, those little blue road signs always give you a bit of local history.

And if there ever was an area where crash-proof lane dividers really needed inventing, this is it.

I was coming down Iron Bridge Road this afternoon ... there is no iron bridge there any longer; that old bit of 1850s iron was long ago replaced and these days there is a galvanized steel girder bridge with wood planking there instead, turned 45 degrees to the road and with a blind drop off ...


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It takes a real leap of faith to come down hill and drive across this bridge any faster than a crawl.



... and I’m riding the brakes hard the whole length of the road. Trust me, I’m not a ninny behind the wheel, or afraid to go fast or to corner hard. But the roads out here seem vertical. I’ve gone on milder ski slopes that were marked with black diamonds. Plus the lanes are very narrow, and dark under the trees, and they quickly turn to the left and right. Blindly turn I should say. You know it starts being a challenging drive when the signs say “blind corners next 4 miles”, but it really gets the driving challenge on when the signs say “extremely steep road ahead drive at your own risk” ... and that’s where Jersey Barriers were born. In the steepest and blindest roads in the state. Right here in Hunterdon County, not 5 miles from where we live. In the mountains, almost. Well, almost in what passes for mountains in New Jersey. There are two of them I think, in the whole state. And they aren’t really all that tall. Just vertical on the sides. grin


Personally, I prefer the taller “Ontario barriers”, “F barriers” or whatever they’re called. They do stop bigger trucks better, but I like them best because they block the headlights from even the tallest pickups and SUVs coming the other way and I don’t get blinded in my low to the ground little skateboard Saturn.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/14/2012 at 05:29 PM   
Filed Under: • BridgesMiscellaneous •  
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calendar   Friday - August 10, 2012

still not dead

Still not dead. Not posting much. Online a whole lot less.

Looking for work.

Still not smoking. Not even using an unlit cigar as a chew toy at this point.

Doing a little bit of bridge hunting; very happy to report that All Is Right With That World: A) not only are there Parker truss bridges in Somerset, the next county over; B) I’ve found yet another phoenix column bridge along the South Branch. Ok, this one is actually along the Raritan Water Power Canal, a strange bit of capitalist history in itself, and was put there for scenic effect after being a working bridge in two previous locations. But the Power Canal is only a couple hundred yards in from where the South Branch and the North Branch come together; C) (and the real cause of my happiness) truss bridges are still being built in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties. Ok, they aren’t the big massive works of the middle 20th century. And they aren’t the flyweight fairy bridges of the late 19th century. But they have a peculiar modern beauty all their own that I’m learning to love. And they’re all twin span pony trusses, which fit in perfectly with the other bridges in the area.

No big pictures today.


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The Studdiford Drive “Camel Warren”. A twin span camelback half subdivided Warren pony bridge.  This is about 3 miles up the road from the lenticular bridge I posted on the other day, with 2 other interesting bridges in between them.



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At the eastern end of the Raritan Water Power Canal is this nice old bridge, now restored and open only for foot traffic. The sign calls it a “double intersection Pratt” which is another way of saying it’s a Whipple truss. Pretty darn rare, although once common for railroad bridges. Twin span, but a through truss not a pony. Same kind of bridge as the under bridge in that domestic terrorism post the week before.
This “last” bridge in my two part walkabout is about 4 miles east of the Studdiford Drive bridge, with “only” the phoenix column between them. Another 2 miles to the east are a few Parker railroad bridges and a possibly interesting foot bridge to nowhere. But hey; D) Parkers!!!! Woo hoo!!! It was Parkers that got me started on this whole summer of bridge learning.

And yeah, there’s a double Warren a few miles to the north of me in Belvedere. Same kind as the bridge down south in Washington’s Crossing. And if I visited that one, I’d have to stop at the other phoenix column bridge down in Stockton. Hoo boy, imagine that, 4 separate phoenix column bridges in a 20 mile radius from where I live. Plus cast iron Pratts, all sorts of old pinned trusses, riveted trusses, a modern camelback, a lenticular, a Fink in a warehouse somewhere, and some genuine Parkers. As a bridge spotter, I am spoiled for riches without ever using more than a gallon or two of gas. Sweet.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/10/2012 at 02:08 PM   
Filed Under: • BridgesDaily Life •  
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calendar   Wednesday - August 08, 2012

Teaser

Another bridge post. All pictures linked to much bigger versions.

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One of the more rare early truss bridges is the one called the lenticular truss. It looks like a lens, a discus, or a UFO. It is very strong design, combining the strengths of both the arch and the suspension bridge in one. It also has a tendency to bounce like the set of carriage springs it resembles, so the popularity of this kind of truss waned pretty quickly when it turned out that the rapidly moving public wanted bridges that did more than merely not collapse; they wanted them to SIT STILL while they were being crossed. Sorry Charlie.

Only about 40 of these bridges remain in the USA. Only about half of those are still in use for vehicular traffic. And most of the ones still in use turn out to have been made by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company of New Berlin Connecticut. How about that? Pretty darned good work record, considering most of these old girls are nearly 120 years old now. You can find them from New England down to Texas, with a good number across upstate New York and another bunch scattered across Pennsylvania. New Jersey has two, so OF COURSE one of those is near where I live, and in pretty darned amazing great shape, open to regular vehicular traffic, albeit rather weight limited traffic. And where else would it be, but on the South Branch, our local little river that seems to have more antique truss bridges across it per mile in it’s 10 mile length than any other river in the country.



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I have a ton more pictures naturally. This is the Elm Street Bridge in Neshanic Station NJ, just over the county line into Somerset County, and is about 2 miles downstream on the South Branch of the Raritan River from the Higgensville Rd bridges in Three Bridges NJ, which are in turn about 1 mile downstream from the Rockafellows Mills bridge I last posted about.

Those nuts on those nice new shiny stainless steel pins - the Elm Street bridge is well taken care of, and is yet another example of the “rare” pin connected truss (rare everywhere but Hunterdon and Somerset Counties NJ) - are about the size of the palm of your hand. This bridge is two spans across, each span is about 140 feet.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/08/2012 at 09:09 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - July 26, 2012

Bridge Haters

Meant to post this yesterday but family issues got in the way. As usual.


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anarchist’s target: the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge



5 OWS Domestic Terrorists Charged: Plot To Blow Up Bridge

1 Cops Pleas, Rats Others Out

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such a freaky group. They look like the subs from my Tuesday bowling league.

AKRON, Ohio - One of five men charged with plotting to bomb an Ohio highway bridge pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against his co-defendants.

Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, who has a criminal record for theft and breaking and entering, pleaded to all three counts against him in U.S. District Court. His attorney, Michael O’Shea, said Hayne hopes to get leniency in return for his testimony.

Under the terms of the surprise plea deal, Hayne will have the chance to avoid a life prison term. With the plea and offer of testimony for the prosecution, he could face 15 years to nearly 20 years in prison.

“I don’t think any of these guys intended harm to human beings,” O’Shea said. “I think they just thought this was a way of making some sort of political statement. But I’m relatively confident none of these people had any desires to actually hurt anybody.”

O’Shea said Hayne was a latecomer to the alleged plot and, as such, had the least standing to argue that he had been manipulated by an FBI informant as other defendants have contended.

Authorities have called the men anarchists, and investigators say the group planted what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant on a bridge south of Cleveland and then tried to detonate it.

The defendants could face life in prison if convicted.

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said the government would now turn its attention to proving the case against the other four men. “We are pleased with today’s guilty plea and are prepared to prove the allegations against the remaining defendants,” he said in an emailed comment.

The five were charged with plotting to bomb a bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs by placing what they thought were real explosives at the site and repeatedly trying to detonate them using text messages from cellphones, according to the FBI affidavit.

The FBI said the suspects bought the explosives - actually fake - from an undercover employee and put them at the base of a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, about 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.

After leaving the park, they tried to initiate the explosives using a text-message detonation code, and they called the person who provided the bombs to check the code when it failed, according to the FBI affidavit.

The men also discussed other potential targets, including a law enforcement center, oil wells, a cargo ship or the opening of a new downtown casino, according to a prosecution affidavit.

The five had been associated with Occupy Cleveland, but organizers of the movement have tried to distance the group from the men. They say the five didn’t represent it or its nonviolent philosophy.

Yeah right, the Occupy Movement’s nonviolent philosophy. CYA much? You think we’ve forgotten the Occu-Mess already? The beatings, rapes, robberies, public defecations ... the desire for anarchy. And now their anarchists have been caught. And if this Loserama bunch of pond scum rejects had got their hands on real explosives, or found somebody with the smarts to create his own, we’d be out at least one nice bridge by now. Maybe two, depending on the size of the blast and the collapse. And I’m not buying the “we didn’t mean or intend to hurt anybody.” Bullshit. The bridge is used by thousands of people every day. No matter when they pushed their detonate button, there was likely someone on the bridge. Had their bomb been real and gone off, that would have been murder.

Life in prison is too good for this crew. Hang ‘em.

[ Back in May 2012: ] CLEVELAND (AP) - After unknowingly working with an FBI informant for months, five men have been charged with plotting to bomb an Ohio bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs.

Federal authorities Tuesday described the men as anarchists who are angry with corporate America and the government. They say the alleged plotters researched explosives and obtained what they thought was C-4 explosives. The material, in fact, was harmless and the public was never at risk because the men got it from the informant, officials said.

Their arrests Monday night marked the latest case in which FBI agents planned fake terrorism plots alongside targeted suspects, an indication it continues to be a top strategy for the government in preventing terrorism.

“They talked about making a statement against corporate America and the government as some of the motivations for their actions,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in announcing the arrests with the head of the FBI in Cleveland, Stephen Anthony.

Court documents detail several conversations the FBI secretly recorded in which its informant discussed the bomb plans with some of the suspects.

In one, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, allegedly said “Taking out a bridge in the business district would cost the ... corporate big wigs a lot of money” because it would cause structural damage and prevent people from going to work.

He and another suspect, Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, favored targeting a bridge because it would limit “the number of casualties and the potential for killing possible supporters,” court documents said.

I know what you’re thinking, and I have the answers you want ...

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/26/2012 at 01:35 PM   
Filed Under: • BridgesTerrorists •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 17, 2012

Tenacious As A Terrier

I Found It: One Parker, Pinned




Oh boy! Yay me! I’m doing the happy dance here.

(all pictures link to much larger versions)

It took me just over a week to locate the bridge I’d seen on TV and posted about here. The one I’d seen on the final episode of the TV show House. Man what a bunch of work it’s been. But I’m 100% certain I’ve got the right one. Not only does it match in style, size, color, and location, it’s right around the proper age. Best yet, recent photos of the bridge match what I saw on TV right down to the Rustoleum™ marks, the turnbuckles, the surrounding trees ... it’s a perfect match. SCORE !!!


What I Saw On TV:
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What I Found Online
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So what and where is this thing? It is the Rinconada Las Pilitas Bridge, a pinned Parker truss bridge built in 1917 by the Gutleben Brothers bridge company of San Francisco. The bridge is located in San Luis Obispo County California. It crosses the Salinas River about a mile northwest of Santa Margarita Lake. The bridge underwent a bit of restoration and got a new paint job in 1996. Since a new concrete bridge was built just 150 feet away, the old Parker is no longer open to car traffic and is reserved for hikers and bikers. And the occasional TV show motorcycle it seems.

decimal lat/long: 35.348784,-120.513052

Status:  Closed to vehicles, roadway has been realigned with new bridge
History:  Built 1917
Builder:  Austin F. Parsons (County Engineer Designer)
Design:  Pratt Through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 149.9 ft.
Total length: 231.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.9 ft.
Recognition:  Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called:  Rinconada Las Pilitas Bridge

“Las Pilitas Road is only one lane wide and climbs over a rocky spur. The land turns distinctly drier and there are signs of recent bush fires. After reaching a crest the road then descends quickly to reach the Salinas River ... containing the outflow from Santa Margarita Lake. Crossing the river is an elegant metal lattice bridge constructed in 1917. The bridge is now reserved for cyclists and walkers ... vehicles use a new concrete bridge some 50 meters upstream.”

There does seem to be a little confusion on when the thing was built and by whom, which is not unusual for bridges this old

The Salinas River Bridge was formerly identified as Bridge No. 49-106. It was designed by San Luis Obispo County Surveyor A. F. Parsons and constructed by the Henderson Bridge Company in 1914. A bridge rating sheet completed in 1985 as part of Caltrans statewide Historic Bridge Inventory described it as an “excellent example of its type in its region, and [it] has served as a locally important crossing of the Salinas River for more than seventy years.”

Parsons seems to have worn several hats at the county government, but I doubt he was a bridge designer. He may have specified a bridge of a certain size and type, but that’s about it. And it’s still standing 96 years later, so it seems he chose well. Somewhere I read that WWI got in the way, and work on the bridge was halted until the war was nearly over. That could just be rumor, although during the war there was such a steel shortage that ships were made out of concrete.

The first “official” public road coming into Las Pilitas canyon was surveyed in 1886 by then county surveyor E. Carpenter. This dirt road forded the Salinas River at a crossing very close to the spot where the present new million dollar concrete bridge exists today.

This road was officially called the “Rinconada and Pilitas Public Road”. ... The Salinas River crossing proved to be hazardous due to a soft channel bottom and high water during winter. So, in 1898 a group of early resident pioneers petitioned the board of supervisors for a new road with a better crossing location farther upstream where the riverbed was rocky. ... The second road (1898) was surveyed by then county surveyor V. H. Woods. This road was proposed as a 60 foot wide dirt road, and the new crossing was an apparent improvement. Then, in 1916 plans were made to bridge the river for year-around access, and a steel bridge was designed and engineered by then county surveyor Austin Frank Parsons ... In 1916, along with the steel bridge, Parsons also surveyed a new (third) road on higher ground and westerly of the previous two roads. This is the present road today (2010).
...
In 2006, the present poured concrete bridge was built at a cost of over one million dollars. The funds came from a federal bridge grant established only for really old bridge replacements. When the county received the grant funds, they then wanted to use the money for other bridge replacements that they considered more urgent, but the Las Pilitas had the only bridge that met the grant requirements, and so we got our new bridge.

image

Several things made it quite difficult to locate. While there is a National Register of Historic Places, the database is very hard to use, and worthless if you don’t already know the name or location of what you’re searching for. Your tax dollars at work! I searched through hundreds of Parker truss bridges at the various bridge web sites, like bridgehunter.com. No luck. Finally I tried looking for some kind of national bridge registry. There is not a government one, but I did find http://nationalbridges.com/ . Cool. Knowing that House was filmed in LA, I plugged in CA for the state, chose “Through Truss” as the bridge type, “steel” as the material, and guessed a Status of “Structurally Deficient” because the bridge I was looking for was around 100 years old. Back came the results, lots of them. So I sorted them by descending size, knowing that the House bridge was at least 120 feet long, and then went down the result looking for old ones. “Salinas River” was the 5th entry, so I opened up a Google tab and searched for “Salinas River Bridge”. Las Pilitas was the first hit, and for images ... the first one shown was a Parker. I had a feeling right then that it was Happy Dance time, but it took opening a number of the other resultant web pages to find my ultimate jackpot: pictures taken this spring of the bridge showing the same Rustoleum™ spray marks on the green paint. Woo hoo!!! Pure. Adrenaline.

Then I went back to bridgehunter and found that they had listed the bridge as a Pratt truss, and didn’t have any pictures. That isn’t exactly wrong, because this is a Pratt truss bridge. One with polygonal top chords ... which makes it a PARKER.

Grrrr.  LOL

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/17/2012 at 07:47 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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calendar   Saturday - July 14, 2012

Double Secret Zombie Engineering

Another one of my local bridge spotting posts. The Rockafellows Mills Bridge is a Pratt through truss, built in 1900. It’s only 3 miles away from the bunch of local bridges I wrote about the other day.  Click any of the pictures for much larger versions.


First Class Work

Renovated 110 year old bridge is now 500% stronger



image

Prior to renovation the Rockafellows Mills Bridge had a 3 ton weight limit. Now it’s 15 tons. What happened?




image

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton Ohio was going gangbusters. There were building bridges everywhere across America. They had developed a line of cost effective and reliable steel bridges that were easy to assemble and maintain, and towns and states were lining up to give them business. There wasn’t much of any truck or car traffic in those days; the world still ran on horses. But what there was, was thousands of poorly made, rotting, old wooden bridges nearing the end of their useful lives. And it was the Iron Era, so it was time for the wood ones to go.

Hunterdon County NJ bought several bridges from these guys. We still have most of them. The Rockafellows Mills bridge above is practically a kit bridge. It’s 140 feet across and about 18 feet wide. It’s a one lane job, and could handle a 3 ton load. It was put together with pins and rivets: no welding. It was the “Chevy Malibu” of it’s day: plus or minus some decoration, this bridge had hundreds of sisters all across the country.  Here’s pretty much the exact same bridge in Arkansas:

image

Fryer’s Ford Bridge: same Pratt through truss, same size, same builders, same original 3 ton load rating

So what’s the big deal? Their bridge is dead. Ours is in glowing health.

And double secret zombie engineering is going to keep it that way.

Ok Drew, WTFF is “double secret zombie engineering”? It’s a special hitherto unknown bridge builder’s term that I just invented, that describes the hidden art of shifting the load from the dead to the live. Get a load of that.

More below the fold, including a redneck Pratt-fall.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/14/2012 at 08:02 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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