The Cabot Street Bridge Condemned

by Laurel | September 27th, 2014

09 September 1898

The Cabot Street Bridge Condemned

Second Level Canal South From Dwight Street

Second Level Canal South From Dwight Street

Engineer Mace Moulton of Springfield makes some sensational disclosures concerning a Holyoke bridge in a report presented to the Holyoke Board of Public Works yesterday afternoon.

The bridge in question is the Cabot Street Bridge across the second level canal and as a result of the report, the bridge was closed to traffic within two hours. City Engineer Kirkpatrick makes an annual inspection of the city’s bridges and this year secured the services of Expert Moulton, who makes the report. At a special meeting of the board of public works yesterday afternoon the bridge was formally condemned and Engineer Kirkpatrick and Superintendent of outdoor Work Winkler were given authority to examine the bridge and report. On receipt of this report the board will decide whether the bridge should be repaired or rebuilt. If the latter is thought necessary, the board of aldermen will be asked for an appropriation for the same.

The bridge is crossed by the tracks of the Springfield and Chicopee Falls electric railway lines, whose cars are now run by another route. All traffic was shut off the bridge at 5 o’clock. The structure was built 25 years ago and has since been moved to its present location and shortened. “The details of design.” says the engineer in his report, “are obsolete and wold not at the present time be considered as proper for this or any other bridge in an important location. In case the structure was new at this time and every connection as strong as the main members connected, the main trusses are about 50 per cent proper strength, floor beams about 60 per cent, etc. In other words, the bridge would have, if new, about 50 per cent strength for present loads. But the bridge is old and its condition far from what it should be if new.”

The engineer continues his report and shows how dangerous is the condition of the bridge. Some of the flanges of the beams are broken and the beams tipped over. The deflection in the floor under a half-loaded electric car is two inches, under the sprinkling-cart partly filled three inches. Even the passage of an empty dray deflects the bridge to a noticeable extent.

In conclusion the engineer says: “The foregoing description gives enough detail of weak and dangerous condition to show what a risk is being hourly taken under every-day traffic and should any crowd cover the bridge completely at any time I think there is a very slight chance that the structure would not withstand it. For immediate action I should advise stoppage of travel, except for foot passengers, and if thought available to make a new floor system, it can be done, but the result will be simply a makeshift, as the trusses are too light for heavy travel ad should not be subjected to loads from heavy teams or from crowds of people. My advice is to replace the bridge with a new one rather than repair this one as the repairs of floor would cost about 25 per cent as much as a new bridge, and the trusses cannot be strengthened properly except at a very great expense.”

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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