3/13/12: In re-bar we trust

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:


"In Re-Bar We Trust"

“In Re-Bar We Trust”


Concrete-encased girders

Concrete-encased girders, some appearing in good condition, some not so good.


Decaying concrete columns beneath Highway 58, Golden, Colorado




Containment, or warning? (either is scary!)


Chunk from above?


Concrete Hangfire

Concrete ‘patch’ hanging from Highway 58 bridge



  1. Erin March 14, 2012 at 08:44 #

    Really scary photos done in a beautiful way.
    Are you sending these to government officials or editorials???

  2. Jeff Warner March 14, 2012 at 09:55 #

    Already reported, we’ll see how long it takes for CDOT to respond…

  3. CDOT March 16, 2012 at 14:28 #

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The concrete, still connected by rebar, was removed on the morning of March 15. The bridge is scheduled for replacement, with construction starting early 2013.

  4. Harriette March 18, 2012 at 17:32 #

    WOW! You certainly captured CDOT’s attention! I’m glad to see that they removed the one dangling section within a day’s time!