(An excellent aerial photo, looking Eastward, of the big construction project, '59. The low bridge to the North was what the new bridge replaced, and was torn down upon completion of the new span. How much the city has changed.)
Construction of the new College Avenue bridge here in Appleton is finally underway. The roadway was closed off officially this morning, and, after some prep work, including the demolition of a small office building underneath the bridge on the East bank, the deck itself will go under the wrecking ball next week. I talked to the project foreman, who said that some dynamite might be used on the pillars. That'll get the neighborhood's attention.
Our local paper, the Appleton Post-Crescent, is carrying the story, of course. And they have a neat collection of pictures from the building of the existing bridge in 1959 (I had thought 1952, alas, in error). So I thought it might be fun to take some then-and-now photos. Several others in their collection no longer lend themselves to present-day copies (at least not without a cherry picker) as the approaches are quite overgrown. But I got the ones I could, and here are the results. The original photos all come from the construction of 1959, and the color ones from today, 8/11/08, for a glimpse of the beginning and the end. Thus spans an almost 50 year service life.
I love this last one--one of those I can't duplicate without some equipment. The railings were originally a steel lattice and were upgraded to taller concrete at some point. The original looks much more graceful, I think.
Only one house was removed for the bridge project in '59, though it came from a row of stately old homes. It sounds like there was a pretty nasty battle to determine where the original span should go, as it would naturally transform the neighborhoods through which it passed.
I'll try to get construction photos as the project progresses. The build is expected to take 14-16 months.
In other news, the residential / retail development planned for the land beneath this bridge is rumored to be in financial peril. The launch date has been pushed back a couple times, and the talk is that considerable additional investment is needed to get the project off the ground. In that the site is basically an abandoned industrial superfund site at the moment, I hope they find a way to make the project go; it would be good for the city, and especially for those of us on the river. Stay tuned (both of you!).