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WHITE RIVER BRIDGE AT BLOOMFIELD

by
Kaysi Wilkins

The Solomon Dixon Ferry crossed the White River at Fairplay. This was the first record of transportation being provided for crossing the river near Bloomfield. The ferry was established as early as 1823.

Covered Bridge

The first bridge to be constructed over White River near Bloomfield was a wooden covered bridge. A. M. Kennedy and Sons were awarded the contract to build the bridge at Elliston, just south of where the Illinois Central Railroad bridge is now located. Construction on this bridge began after the company completed the covered bridge across Richland Creek in 1883. The structure built across the river was a 375 foot two-span covered bridge, completed in 1885. The bridge stood until July 10, 1957, until it collapsed and fell into the river.

The Iron Bridge

After much bickering and change of locations, a new iron bridge was built across the White River just north of the present bridge on State Road 54. The White River Bridge was built in 1873-1874 by Miller, Jamison, and Company for $27.80 per foot. The total length of the bridge was 580 feet and the cost $16,124. Only the stone piers remain today marking the location of the old iron bridge.

The Overhead Truss Bridge

The eleven-span overhead truss structure was built in 1939 with a total length of 1,375 feet and a clear roadway width of 24 feet. The north side of the bridge featured a sidewalk that was 5 feet 10 1/4 inches wide. The estimated weight of this structure was 1,700,000 pounds. When the overhead truss bridge was built, the truss was considered state-of-the-art technology. The bridge was intended to last 50 years.

The bridge was built when cars were smaller. It became too narrow for modern-day cars and was dangerous. The number of accidents that occurred on the bridge was one of the main reasons a new bridge was built. In addition, it was constantly needing to be painted to prevent it from rusting. The bridge was outdated and needed major repair.

When the reinforced concrete bridge was finished the overhead truss bridge was removed by implosion. What was left of the bridge the construction workers removed from the water. They buried the concrete and took the steel to a scrap yard.

The Reinforced Concrete Bridge

The reinforced concrete bridge has the longest concrete girders in the state of Indiana. The beams on the new bridge are 133 feet long. Using 200-ton cranes, the girders, weighing 72 tons, were lifted from the trucks and set between the eleven piers of the bridge.

A total of 36 post-tension beams, all made of solid concrete with steel reinforcement, was installed. Three beams were laid along the width of each pier, one in the middle and one on each side. After all girders were in place, they were connected with a multi-strand metal tension cable that runs longitudinally through the girders.

The bridge had to be completed as soon as possible because this bridge on State Road 54 was the main east-west road through Greene County. The 1,404-foot long bridge was to be constructed in 240 working days or less. The 48 foot 4 inch wide structure was open for traffic in August, 1993. The total cost of the bridge was $4,811,000.

The bridge was named the Veterans Memorial Bridge to honor the veterans of Greene County. When deciding upon the name, State Representative Jerry Denbo announced a contest that allowed Greene County residents to mail in nominations. "Many have made sacrifices to protect our country, and it is only fitting that we honor these people in any way we can," said State Senator John Waterman at the dedication ceremony.

[Written May 1997]

REFERENCES

 

Flynn, Faye L. "Many Bridges in County Have Unique Histories," Linton Daily Citizen, April 30, 1986, p. 17.

Goddard, Dale. "133-Foot Beams Become Part of Bridge," Linton Daily Citizen, September 24, 1992, p. 1.

Hensley, Diana. "White River Bridge Will Probably Honor Veterans," Linton Daily Citizen, February 21, 1996, p. 1.

History of Greene and Sullivan Counties, State of Indiana From Earliest Time to the Present; Together with Interesting Biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Notes, Etc. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers and Company, 1884.

Jefferson, Greg. "Name Question Resolved," Linton Daily Citizen.

Personal interview with Keith G. Long on Tuesday, April 15, 1997, in Linton, Indiana.