The Armor-swift-Burlington Bridge, which is also called the Kansas City Bridge, was initially constructed to handle vehicle traffic. Currently, it also has a railway crossing which cuts over the Missouri River into the Kansas City. The construction of the bridge started in the year 1890 with the piers being built in the same year; however, the construction of the bridge had to stop for a while after funds ran out. The construction of the bridge resumed in the year 1909. The privilege of designing the bridge was given to a man known as John Alexander Low Waddell. The bridge has car traffic on the upper level and a rail interchange on the lower level. The lower deck was raised in order to enable boats to pass without interfering with the traffic on top. The design of the bridge enabled the hangers situated in the lower deck to go up to the trusses on the upper level.
In the year 1887, Congress finally gave the go ahead for the construction of the bridge which is known today as the A.S. B. Bridge. The responsibility was first given to E.L Martin, William Chambers and Bullene. However, this was later reversed and the responsibility of constructing the bridge was given to two construction firms; namely, the St. Louis and the Pacific Railroad Company. The designer of the bridge was not changed. J.A.L. Waddell was the one who was given the responsibility of coming up with the design of the bridge. The bridge was to have one Railroad Bridge, high level, and vehicular road straddling of both trusses. The construction of the bridge began on about nine conical stone stonework piers. The construction of the Piers was completed in the year 1890. Waddell was to later describe the piers as “Cocked hat.” He had first adopted the design to reduce the tedium of look of the high shaft. He later felt that the design was too extravagant, and would cost a lot of money; hence, a few years down the line, four of the piers were cut down to a level of about ten feet above the uppermost watermark. The reason for cutting down the piers was to hold the wider truss of the current bridge, and furthermore, to facilitate the construction of a double level structure (Hauck, 160).
After the construction of the piers was completed, the responsibility of taking care of the bridge was handed over to Kansas City Bridge and Terminal Railway Company. The president of the firm at the time was known as Willard Winner. He is credited to have come up with a plan of what is now known as the North Kansa City. The bridge was one of the developments he had in mind, and owing to his determination to develop the city, the bridge was named after him (Hauck, 180).
In the year 1894, Waddell was once again called on upon to come up with a different structural design for the old piers. In the new design, the bridge was to have two railway trucks, one lifting deck, two electric car tracks, vehicular deck, and sidewalks on the top level. The ambitious construction of the bridge did not start due to some financial constraints. In the year 1901, as a result of foreclosure of mortgages to the Kansas City and Atlantic Railroad Company he lost his fortune (Hauck, 220).
In the years that followed, ownership of the bridge went from one holding to the other; eventually, two firms known as Armour and swift, and another firm called Burlington Railroad in 1903 gained its ownership. The two firms later merged to form the Union Depot, Bridge and Terminal Railway Company. The bridge remained in the condition it was until the year 1907 when the president of the firm, Fratt, called upon a firm that had just been established, known as Waddell and Harrington to carry out a study of the bridge and come up with an estimated cost of finishing the construction of the Winner Bridge. Between the years 1894-1907 a lot of changes and developments had taken place in the construction world, especially in bridges. Steel was at the time being accepted for making structures. The use of pins to join two materials together was being replaced by the use of rivets (Hauck, 225).
At this time, vertical Bridges were starting to gain popularity, and Waddell had successfully constructed main vertical Bridges. In 1892, he had designed and even constructed the South Hallstead Bridge in the City of Chicago, which was the first ever vertical Bridge in the United States of America. The redesigning of the Bridge saw its name change from Winner Bridge to the Fratt Bridge. Pins were set aside and replaced with rivets, concrete was used instead of cast iron, and shafts were replaced with wire ropes (Hauck, 230).
The new owners of the Bridge were not easy to convince; even though they had agreed to continue with the construction of the Bridge. they could not understand how the vertical lift was going to operate by looking at the drawings. A model had to be made for them in order to show how the lift was going to operate. They were not still convinced by the demonstration and it took the effort of the civil and mechanical experts to assure them that the vertical was going to function properly. Redesigning of the Bridge started in 1909 and traffic was allowed to use the bridge on 28 December 1911. This did not mean that one was able to use the bridge for free; pedestrians, livestock, and vehicles using the upper level were charged (Hauck, 2002).
The A.S.B. Bridge is situated in Kansas City. It begins on the northern side of the Central Business District at the junction of Locust Street or commonly known as the Missouri Route 9 and the Interstate Route. However, construction of the bridge has resulted in the junction being given another name: it is now known as the A.S.B. Junction. The interchange is very vital as it used to get into all areas or sections of the town. Route 9 goes over the Missouri river and to the northern part of Kansas City (Hauck, 2002).
Description of the Bridge Structurally
The structure of the Bridge is made up of three dissimilar parts. The southern approach, the northern approach, and the three river spans. The Bridge is about 4,085 feet long. In order to understand the significance of the three unique parts of the bridge, we will analyze each part separately.
This part of the bridge is made up of two decks, the lower deck that has the single railroad instead of the initial two. The upper deck, which was initially made to accommodate two electric tracks, a central road, and sidewalks. It had the rails removed in the year 1948 to provide way for the construction of four vehicle lanes (Hauck, 180).
About four masonry piers made of limestone were built in the year 1890 to order or in superb condition. The piers were reduced to a height just below the Starlings and they rest on solid bedrock about 50- 70 feet below the water. The piers that were modified and used in constructing the river spans were number 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Hauck, 188).
The super structure is comprised of about three join spans. Two of the spans are permanent and hold the highway on the upper most deck and the railway deck at the lower deck. The third span is unique as it is found at a unique part of the bridge where there is the lifting railroad. When raised, the deck gives a horizontal clearance of about 65 feet (Hauck, 190).
The rail deck situated on the lift span is made up of about four lines of non-stop stringers which are attached to the floor beams by rivets. Every floor beam is floated by means of two stiff hangers from the truss that goes all the way up to the truss post any time the deck is lifted up. When the deck has not been lifted up, the weight on upon the railroad are transferred on to the supporting pan trusses by means of the pins situated at the top of the hangars. About four castings based on the four corners of the deck control the movement of the lifting deck. The four castings are fastened on the lower chords, they move in angles across the main columns. Next to the lower end, there are vertical guides that flare out vaguely in order to bring the floor to agile position as it nears its rest (Hauck, 203).
The hoisting machine is found on the sheds located at the higher chords, at each end of the truss. Operation of the machine proceeds by means of rotating the corner drums. To avert any disaster in the event that any of the motors fail to work, they have been connected electrically. They are attached in such a way that should one fail, the lifting can be done through a rope drive (Hauck, 221).
The south approach is comprised of 4 spans which include 2 salver girders about 92 feet, a single through truss measuring 285’11”, 5 salver girders about 287’ and 6 salver girders 428 feet. The total feet of all the spans put together are 1,093 feet. It is also important to note that the inventive superstructure of the bridge was altered at this particular location in the year 1932 (Hauck, 238).
The substructure of the span is made of concrete, piers 1, 2, and 3, which were initially built steel bents. The steel bents were the ones put up during the redesigning of the bridge in the year 1907 construction. Waddell made no changes to the original design. However, some minor changes had to be made on some of the original structures: the height of the piers had to be adjusted (Hauck, 242).
The super structure of the southern approach is very simple; it is made up of plate girder, which supports the middle road, outer lanes that are held by the cantilevered located on the outer section of the girder and through spans, as well as a deck. The deck is made of concrete and is similar to the ones on the river spans (Hauck, 247).
The section is about 1,707 feet in length. It consist of plate spans 25 in total adding up to about 1,399 feet, a truss measuring about 129 feet, and 5 girder spans of about 173 feet when put together (Hauck, 250).
The sub structure of the north approach is very similar to the one of the south approach. However, the difference is notable in some few sections such as the viaducts in the bents tower are used. The towers are about 340 feet with transitional distinct bents in between the piers. The two piers used in the truss are made of concrete and the Super structure of the north approach is similar to the south approach (Hauck, 264).
The bridge had the privilege to be built by some of the best engineers at the time. This was because the bridge needed a lot of expertise and the focus was to construct a hitherto not seen bridge design. Some of the work done by the engineers still remain intact up-to-date. The first engineer to work on the bridge was John Alexander Low Waddell (Hauck, 265).
Waddell was born in Ontario Canada in the year 1854. He was able to receive his education in Port Hope where he was born. In school, he was discovered to possess excellent mathematical ability and so was advised to pursue a course in engineering. He joined the Renderer Polytechnic Institute where he managed to get a degree in Civil Engineering in 1875; he went further and obtained a Mechanical Engineering at the McGill College in the year 187 (Hauck, 268).
In the year 1904, Waddell attended the University of Missouri and attained a Doctor of Science. A few years later in 1911, he obtained a Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Nebraska. Waddell was able to make other achievements; he has to his name numerous engineering books and other technical papers. His contributions in the construction world have been applauded throughout the world (Hauck, 270).
Materials Used and Cost
Just like any other structure, materials had to be used in constructing the bridge. Some financial support also had to come in so as to ensure that the construction went on smoothly. Some of the materials used for the original structure are carbon steel, and Nickel steel (Hauck, 275). Other notable materials included concrete, creosoted timber, paint, Timber piles, untreated timber, and Concrete pile.
The super structure was built of two fixed spans all weighing 8,037 tons. The lift span was made of three materials: Carbon steel, which weighed 4,203 tons, Machinery 292 tons, and Nickel Steel 346 tons. The south Viaduct weighed 885 tons, truss 1,617 tons, North Viaduct 2,460 tons, truss 236 tons. The total weight for the structure was 18,076 tons (Hauck, 282). Sidewalks paint and timber were also needed in large quantities. The quantities of some of a few materials was huge, it took 50 tons of paint to enable the painting of the bridge. The length of timber used both treated and untreated came to about 1,200,000 feet. The amount of concrete used was about 13,500 sq. Timber piles used in the construction were about 13,500,000 feet (Hauck, 289.
The construction of the bridge was not an easy venture. Some expensive but important materials had to be bought to facilitate the construction. A lot of money had to be used to have the bridge functioning. The original pier cost was $600,000, while the redesigning of the piers and construction of some new one cost was 135,000. The total cost for constructing the original structure came to 2,400,000 (Hauck, 289).
Construction of the Armor-swift-Burlington Bridge was not easy and it took several years to build this magnificent structure. The bridge has been renamed severally because the people who owned it wanted the unique structure to be associated with them, and thus saw it fit for the bridge to be named after them. Despite the various changes in name, the bridge was finally completed and proved to be useful just as the people who envisioned it had in mind. The bridge remains one of the best and among the oldest in the world. The amount of material used for the construction was immense and needed a lot of labor. The engineers who took part in the building of the bridge at different stages were highly qualified as can be seen in the way they were able to adapt to change in the method of construction.
Hauck, George F. W.. The builders of the bridge: the Armour-Swift-Burlington Bridge in Kansas City and its influence on engineering practice. Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City Section, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2002. Print.
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