Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winter Street Bridge Opening Recalls Church Street Bridge Deterioration

The Winter Street Bridge over Shelton Ditch is open again. The City posted it to social media earlier this month, so this is old news. But it's still interesting, and you should check it out on a walk or ride.

Though the bridge is one of several designed circa 1930 by R.A. Furrow, an associate of Conde McCullough, this particular bridge itself isn't that interesting. It was a minor example, one of the lesser bridges in Salem. (See here for more on Furrow and his set of bridges. Furrow was also handled the Commercial Street bridge that was just replaced by the Civic Center.)

The replacement is historically sensitive and they did match the patterning of the old, vintage style fairly well. (Though it seems like the shim and patch you can see below might have been handled more elegantly.)

2016: New concrete (L) and old concrete (R)
From February 2012, a little after the flooding
The railing is a close match and conforms to what ODOT calls a "type D" standard, which was generally used in Salem's bridges of this vintage. (They do insert the cabling to bring it to modern standards.)

But it's not a copy.

There's a new-fangled swale for stormwater run-off in it as well. The structural elements on the underside probably show the greatest differences.

A teensy swale
I still wished that they had replaced this with the most inexpensive, plain style bridge and devoted the surplus that went to the vintage simulacra and to a small number of "mitigation" projects instead to a restoration fund for the much longer Church Street bridge. I'd rather lose the history here and totally preserve it there than risk that bridge deteriorating even more. I think the "historical" touches are largely wasted here.

Type D railings, viewing area, and lanterns on
Church Street Bridge (in 2012)
Though the Church Street Bridge doesn't carry the truck weight of the Winter Street Bridge, and also has a longer span that probably relieves some of the stress of floodwater and scouring, its concrete is quite visibly flaking and the rebar inside of it is corroding. With the stairway into Pringle Park and with Church Street's charm - and still unrealized potential - as an avenue for walking and biking, of all the local bridges of this vintage, this bridge has seemed like the best and loveliest bridge, the one around which the greatest energy and most resources for preservation ought to be organized. (On the Way has a nice appreciation of it also.)

So it is very nice to see the effort on the Winter Street Bridge, but it will not compensate for the loss of the Church Street Bridge if that comes to pass.

Postscript

Demolition on Winter Street at Shelton Ditch
I knew I had a photo of the demolition at the seam of the "shim and patch." It seems to me that the backhoe was a crude scalpel here and that a more delicate job of cutting might have been done at the seam. On the other hand, it's not that important.

2 comments:

Joe Tilman said...

I am very happy Winter Street bridge is open again, as it is part of my preferred commute route, but both bridge transitions are terrible.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Yeah, those bumps are bad!

(Also updated with a photo from the demolition in mid-June.)