Bridge of Lions makes nations top 10

Historic City News has learned that the rehabilitation of St. Augustine’s historic Bridge of Lions, led by facilities and infrastructure consulting firm RS&H, has been ranked fourth in the nation’s Top 10 Bridges of 2010, according to Roads & Bridges magazine.

The issue, to be published later this month, features the ten best bridge projects across the U.S., judged on size, project challenges and impact to the community.

According to Jack Haynes, RS&H Project Manager, the one-of-a-kind project presented unique challenges, requiring significant design innovations and construction solutions to ensure both the historic and structural integrity of the bridge. “Finding the right balance between safety, engineering design and historic preservation was key to the project’s success,” added Haynes.

In addition to improving the safety and capacity of the bridge, which was originally designed to carry up to only 15 tons (less than the city’s largest fire truck), the team strived to preserve as many of the original bridge elements as possible.

“It’s one of the most complex projects you’ll see in this industry,” said Craig Teal, Project Manager with the Florida Department of Transportation. “Few can say they’ve worked on a project more unique or extraordinarily significant to the historic community than this bridge.”

This required a new, hidden interior steel framework to increase the load carrying capacity of the bridge, as well as an innovative foundation system to strengthen the structure, both of which allowed the bridge’s original arched girders and iconic bascule piers to remain in the rehabilitated structure.

“The team also designed replicas of many of the original elements that had been lost over the years, like the pedestrian sidewalk railing, safety gates, and light poles and fixtures,” said Haynes.

The design team also prepared a preliminary design for the inclusion of nighttime aesthetic lighting, which, once installed, will highlight many of the historic features, such as the original rehabilitated piers and girders.

In addition, two parks, one at each end, are also being restored and landscaped to their original appearances.

According to Haynes, since data from the bridge’s original 1927 plans were unavailable, the design team had to review inventories of each structural element after the original bridge was carefully dismantled before determining the best approach for rehabilitating and returning those elements.

“This required over 1,500 engineering submittals during the five years of construction, so the design and construction teams worked closely together throughout the process to ensure the bridge was completed on schedule,” said Haynes.

The original bridge re-opened on March 17, 2010. The temporary bridge was removed in October.
“It was truly a team effort involving close coordination between the design team, construction team, state agencies and the local community,” said Teal. “It’s because of this coordinated effort that the Bridge of Lions will continue to remain a vital transportation link in St. Augustine, as well as a national historic landmark for years to come.”

The other bridges ranked Roads & Bridges for the Top 10 projects include:

1. Hood Canal Bridge Retrofit – Port Gamble, Wash.
2. Rte. 52 Causeway Replacement – Ocean City, N.J.
3. Lake Champlain Bridge – N.Y./Vt.
4. Bridge of Lions Rehab – St. Augustine, Fla.
5. Christopher S. Bond Bridge – Kansas City, Mo.
6. George Street Bridge – New Brunswick, N.J.
7. Elwha River Bridge Replacement – Clallam County, Wash.
8. Oregon 38 Bridges – Elkton, Ore.
9. Bagley Pedestrian Bridge – Detroit, Mich.
10. US 191 over the Colorado River Bridge – Moab, Utah.

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

Share your thoughts with our readers >>