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Smiths Creek Covered Bridge - Delaware

Project Abstract

Bridge 9 (Smiths Bridge) is a one-lane wide, three-span steel beam bridge with timber deck and railing with a superstructure dating from 1962 when it was rebuilt following a fire. The original superstructure was a single-span timber covered bridge constructed in 1839. The substructure consists of stone abutments dating back to the original 1839 bridge and stone faced concrete piers that were constructed in the1950's when steel beams were added for support. The substructure is considered to be a contributing element to the historic district in which the bridge lies. The latest condition evaluation reports that the bridge deck is in poor condition, with the superstructure and substructure in fair condition. Based on the condition of the bridge, the scope of work was determined to include replacement of the superstructure and rehabilitation of the substructure.



KENTUCKY  SMITH  1939: HABS photo fo Smiths Bridge constructed in 1839. Photo was taken from east approach in 1939.
HABS photo fo Smiths Bridge constructed in 1839. Photo was taken from east approach in 1939.
Project Description Bridge 9 (Smiths Bridge) is a one-lane wide, three-span steel beam bridge with timber deck and railing with a superstructure dating from 1962 when it was rebuilt following a fire. The original superstructure was a single-span timber covered bridge constructed in 1839. The substructure consists of stone abutments dating back to the original 1839 bridge and stone faced concrete piers that were constructed in the1950's when steel beams were added for support. The substructure is considered to be a contributing element to the historic district in which the bridge lies. The latest condition evaluation reports that the bridge deck is in poor condition, with the superstructure and substructure in fair condition. Based on the condition of the bridge, the scope of work was determined to include replacement of the superstructure and rehabilitation of the substructure. Construction will begin in mid-summer 2002 and be completed in 136 calendar days. Bid cost was $1.2 million. Preliminary engineering cost was $166,000. Right of way cost is $10,000. Civil engineering cost is estimated at $148,000. Pupose and Need Statement There was no official purpose and need statement for the project. Projects come up on DelDOT's (Delaware Department of Transportation) bridge schedule due to their deficiency rating and at that time the Department determines the project scope. The original project scope here was to replace the deck and rehabilitate the substructure. It was following the first Public Workshop at which DelDOT staff took input from the public that DelDOT decided to alter the initial scope of the project. DelDOT staff attempted to have a "mission statement" for the working group that incorporated the concerns raised by the public in the first two Public Workshops. DelDOT drafted a mission statement with a focus on engineering and safety concerns, but the working group and the Department could not come to an agreement on the wording. Therefore it was dropped. The public's concerns and options obtained from the first two Public Workshops were used to guide the working group's efforts. Context Sensitive Factors The following context-sensitive factors were raised: Aesthetics, historic issues, environmental concerns, noise concerns, multi-modalism (pedestrian/cyclists), traffic calming (speed, traffic volumes, trucks), safety, vandalism, and flooding. The landmark 1839 bridge was recorded by the Historic American Building Survey in a Works Project Administration project in 1936. As built drawings were available from 1956 when the bridge was rehabilitated adding stone-faced concrete piers when steel beams were added for support. Community residents remember the landmark bridge that stood until it was burned through arson in 1961. The documentary record of the historic bridge gave design engineers good information to develop a replacement for the superstructure of the bridge that is not a literal recreation of the historic structure, but is based on its design qualities. The decision to build a one-lane covered bridge required a design exception to AASHTO design guidelines. While normally a road classified as a rural collector requires a 80 km./hour design speed, such a design speed would have required extensive re-alignment of the approaches and significant wetland fills (exceeding allowable limits and requiring mitigation). DelDOT engineers determined that a 20 mph speed limit would be appropriate. DelDOT's engineers determined their principal concern with the poor sight distances on the approaches to the bridge could be met by a limited realignment on the north side of the bridge to provide better sight distances.
Further Reading:
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HABS photo fo Smiths Bridge constructed in 1839. Photo was taken from east approach in 1939.
    
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HABS photo fo Smiths Bridge constructed in 1839. Photo was taken from east approach in 1939.
Deck of Smiths Bridge.
    
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Deck of Smiths Bridge.
Smiths Bridge from the east approach.
    
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Smiths Bridge from the east approach.
DelDOT visualization of the side view of proposed bridge design.
    
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DelDOT visualization of the side view of proposed bridge design.


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