Monday, May 23, 2011

Plymouth: Bridge City

Part 2 in the series on Plymouth's historic bridges

The second phase of bridge construction employed new technology developed at the close of the 19th Century. Concrete cast into arched forms provided a modern approach to traversing the Yellow River.

Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge, 1927
Type: Filled-spandrel two-arch; skewed. In 1987 a cantilevered deck was installed and the project removed rails and lampposts. The original engineer is unknown.
The new alignment’s path (1928) of the Lincoln Highway in Indiana was fully decided except for the path it would take through the City of Plymouth. There were two sides lobbying for their own path the highway would take. Ultimately the state told Marshall County if they could not decide, it would be decided for them and a deadline was given. Several meetings followed until the night before the deadline and in packed chambers at the high school, both sides presented their case for their preferred path. The two choices were between the downtown, using Pennsylvania Avenue, or Jefferson Street. The City and downtown businessmen lobbied for the downtown route, while others preferred Jefferson Street. If the Jefferson Street route was chosen, a new bridge would have to be constructed over the Yellow River. If the downtown route was chosen, the highway could use the new Garro Street Bridge. Ultimately the group promoting the use of Jefferson Street won because they were able to show that even with the construction of a new bridge, their path would be less expensive to construct. The new Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge was constructed between 1927-1928 for the sole purpose of the new alignment of the Lincoln Highway.
Garro Street Bridge, 1919
Type: Filled spandrel two-arch; skewed with triangular cutwater and paneled pier pilaster, National Concrete Company, builders
The concrete bridge was constructed at the river crossing of one of Plymouth’s most important cross streets. It retains significant integrity despite the loss of its ornate streetlights mounted at each corner. Arched concrete bridges of this period were constructed using wood planks as the underside of the bridge form. The plank and wood grain marks can still be seen in the concrete under the arches.

Michigan Street Bridge, 1917
Type: Filled spandrel two-arch; Daniel Luten, engineer
The bridge forms the southern terminus of the Plymouth Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The bridge was restored in 2007 with handrails sympathetic to the original design with the added feature of lampposts in the style of the historic residential areas of Michigan Street. Daniel Luten was a world-renown concrete bridge engineer and created some of the most spectacular spans in the United States. He taught engineering at Purdue University. The current bridge replaced an early steel truss bridge; the original drawings for the steel bridge are located at the Marshall County Museum. The Marshall County Commissioners restored the bridge in 2007.

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