August 22nd, 2011

PRE-WAR BRIDGE SURVEY

Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Some Utah bridges built before World War II are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

UDOT recently completed a survey of pre-war bridges. The survey report will be combined with a previous survey of post-war bridges completed last year to provide an important resource that UDOT project teams can use during environmental, planning, design and construction phases of transportation projects.  The complete report is on   UDOT’s website and will be available at the Lester Wire Library soon.

This bridge at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon is recommended as eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places based on its rare type and artistic value. See images of the other bridges below.

Along with an inventory of bridges and their features and locations, the report also includes a rich and interesting historical context.  Themes and trends in bridge design and roadway development “and how those trends were manifest in Utah,” is detailed in the report, explains Elizabeth Giraud, Architectural Historian at UDOT.  Examples of some pre-war themes include detailing how new technologies and materials were adopted into design and how federal legislation and economic conditions, like the Great Depression, affected the development of the transportation system.

Pre-war statewide priorities were promoted by the Utah State Road Commission, UDOT’s predecessor.  Formed in 1909, the USRC “focused on adding more grade separated roads, improving road surfaces, connecting to state boundaries and providing access to state scenic resources in the southern part of the state,” says Giraud.

The historical review draws on a variety of sources including Utah State Road Commission meeting notes and design manuals, planning studies, the UDOT bridge inspection inventory, historic state maps,  and the book that should always be within arm’s reach here at UDOT – Knowlton’s History of Highway Development in Utah. The historical background in the survey is really worth reading for anyone in the transportation industry. Knowing about past trends and innovations can foster a better understanding of present construction and design.

A detailed inventory form for each bridge was completed during the survey process. Inventory forms list bridge location and UDOT Region, dimensions, distinctive features such as variation on a given bridge type, and whether or not the bridge qualifies for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridges were determined to be NRHP eligible under criterion A and C of the rules for the National Register. To qualify under criterion A requires details about how the property functioned during an historic event or time period. To qualify under criterion C requires information about the distinctive type or aesthetic value of the property.  Bridges that are “works of the master” also qualify under criterion C.

UDOT will now partner with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office to establish a programmatic agreement concerning the findings. Eventually, the information can be added to the in the bridge so it can be easily accessed.

Facts:

  • 210 Pre war bridges were surveyed, 42 were determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
  • 409 Post war bridges were surveyed, 34 were determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
  • Only non-interstate UDOT bridges were inventoried
  • No bridges built prior to 1909 were found
  • Elizabeth Giraud is the Project Manager for the study which was conducted by Mead and Hunt.

The slideshow below shows some of the bridges that were identified by Mead and Hunt as eligible for the NRHP. Click on the large images to see captions.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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