I spent an hour this morning shooting the Weekly Assignment from my favorite photography forum, this week’s subject being “Bridges”. Instead of going downtown looking for some cool architecture, I decided instead to go to the bridge nearest my home, and photograph it. That bridge is actually a concrete overpass for Highway 58 above, probably built in the 50’s like so many of them were. Nothing special, certainly nothing fancy, and driving over it at 50 mph you’d never give it another thought. The view from beneath begs an entirely different response.
The bridge acts as more of an ‘underpass’ for Ford Street in Golden, but is a bridge structure nonetheless. Alongside a creek and a road, a bike path crosses beneath it; runners, cyclists, moms and kids and dogs alike, all crossing underneath the highway. Having spent an hour there, I’m astounded that this bridge is not on Colorado’s list of 128 bridge structures currently classified as ‘poor’ (63 of these bridges were designated by the Colorado Bridge Enterprise to be fast-tracked for replacement, via the FASTER bond initiative). [UPDATE: CDOT removed the chunk of concrete within 24 hours, and indicated that the bridge is scheduled for replacement in 2013, despite it not being on the list.]
As large trucks passed overhead, I’d occasionally hear things hitting the street, presumably very small chunks of concrete, falling from above. I never saw anything, but the noise was coming from the same place, beneath what looked to be a patch on the bottom side of the roadway, of which there were several. Prior to replacing a nearby overpass crossing this same highway, I’d seen how CDOT was essentially putting band-aids on gaping wounds (I’m admittedly no civil engineer), presumably due to lack of funding; however, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ongoing war over the Northwest Parkway has lowered Golden to the lowest common denominator for the State’s road maintenance funding. Anyway, I digress…
I’m sure bridges and roads, governments and highway departments across the nation suffer similar maladies, as the Minneapolis bridge collapse of 2007 would suggest. The West’s ongoing economic recession comes at a time when our nation, in particular, needs to replace the aging infrastructure created during the post-WWII construction boom, a time when our government appears at a loss to come up with the resources to do so.
At the top is the image I picked for the assignment, “In Re-Bar We Trust”, with a few others that follow: