Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sometimes newer isn't better

The planks groaned. A sound very familiar to the people on Neff Road. The old bridge matched another that spanned across  the water of Painter Creek on Byreley Road. The little creek meandered across farms seeking refuge in a larger body of water, always going under one side of the bridge only to come out the other side.

Our little creek ran into the Stillwater River which ran into the Great Miami River watershed. Of course, to those of us who lived around the sweet, little creek, we loved it for the tadpoles, frogs, turtles and crawdads. Ground hogs, raccoon, an occasional dog and other critters enjoyed the clear water of the creek. But none of this has anything to do with the reason for this writing. I'm writing about our bridge.

The bridge was probably erected some time between the late 1870's to 1930's. I had trouble finding much information on this dear bridge. Evidently, it didn't mean as much to historians as it did to those who lived in the neighborhood. From research I find that the bridge was a truss bridge. A truss bridge has metal rails that form triangular units. They are considered one of the oldest types of  modern bridges. Ohio has the largest number of truss bridges in the United States. With this in mind, I'm not sure why the two in our neighborhood were revamped sometime in the 1960's or 70's. Seems to me that the bridges were just perfect the way they were built. I think it had something to do with cars passing and wide loads. Although seems to me that people were much friendlier when they had to stop for a tractor crossing the bridge. A neighbor might even stop and say "hello" to the neighbor waiting. It could save a neighbor a trip back the lane.

I looked up the last inspection in 2010 of the bridge on Neff Road. The average daily traffic is 200 vehicles. Now I lived there for nineteen years, visiting all the years after, and can tell you that in no way has there ever been 200 cars, tractors, buggies, bicycles, dogs, pedestrians, trucks and/or motor cycles on that road on any one day. The bridge is in very good condition and has an operating rating of 40.6 tons. Evidently it will hold all the 200 vehicles that pass over it each day.

I loved that old creaking bridge. It signaled the comings and goings on our road. It gave kids a great place to toss rocks into the creek below. For the Loxley girls, it was a place we stood and with deep affection, looked upon our home.

Sometimes newer isn't better.

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