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Devils Elbow Rusty Bridge

Upon driving across the rusty bridge, it appears to need sandblasting and a paint job. Surface rust is visible on the steel but the structure is sound. Unfortunately it is a whole different scene underneath the bridge. The paint has deteriorated and severe rust has set in where moisture collects, especially at the south end of the bridge. (reference)

During the 1970ís, it was noticed that the concrete bridge piers were cracking and starting to spread apart. Steel plates were attached to the top of the piers and pressed against the concrete by using tensioned steel cables in order to confine the concrete and hold the piers intact. This was the last major maintenance performed on the old bridge.

Rust has completely eaten through several gusset plates (plates used to attach different structural members) and laterals (stabilizing members) under the road deck. The laterals serve to keep shaking and vibration due to wind and traffic on the bridge to a minimum. These members are simple steel angles (members with an L-shaped cross section) that are placed diagonally at various points underneath the bridge. A few of these structural parts are now completely detached from their intended connections underneath of the bridge and are hanging freely.

This bridge pier has been confined with steel plates
Perhaps the most serious structural problem is the rust

Parts of the laterals or their gusset plates have simply rusted through completely. Perhaps the most serious structural issue is with a support beam underneath the bridge on the southwest side.

The beam consists of two standard channels (members with a C-shaped cross section) riveted back to back to roughly form an I-beam cross section. One of the standard channels has rusted nearly completely though, so this beam is only able to support one half of its designed load.


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