Friday, July 24, 2020

Y-Bridges over Muskingum and Licking Rivers

1832: (Bridge Hunter) Two more were built before this one.
1902: (Bridge Hunter; HAER)
1984: (Bridge Hunter; Drone VideoSatellite)

The National Road, now US-40, used the Main Street legs of this bridge in 1826. A road authorized by Congress already passed through Zanesville in 1798. [HAER-data]

Walt Daniels Flickr via Bridge Hunter

The Zanesville Ohio Y- Bridge

The Zanesville Y-Bridge is a historic Y-shaped bridge that spans the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers in downtown Zanesville, Ohio. It carries the traffic of U.S. Route 40 (Main Street and West Main Street), as well as Linden Avenue.

It has been rebuilt numerous times since the 1850s. When being given directions, visitors are often struck by the statement "Drive to the middle of the bridge and turn right."

The first Zanesville Y-Bridge was constructed in 1814. Several iterations (some of them wooden covered bridges) were washed away by serious floods before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a series of dams and locks that now regulate the flow of the two rivers. The current concrete and steel bridge is the fifth in the series on the same location. It opened in 1984.

The first one, 1813, constructed of wooden trestles and stone with planks bolted to the trestles. It was a toll bridge. it fell into the river after flood damage.

Second one, 1819-1832, condemned as unsafe after river ice struck it. after 13 years.

Third one completed in 1832, the one pictured.

Fourth one completed in 1902, deemed unsafe in 1979 from deterioration.

Fifth one, opened in 1984, no longer covered, built of concrete and steel stands today.

[Note the streetcar in the lower-left corner.]

Aimmee Musselman, Sep 2019
[Click the image, save it to disk, and read it with your favorite photos app to zoom in on  the text.]


The Y-Bridge was one of the early bridges in the United States to use concrete and steel construction. At the time it was built, it was the only bridge in the United States with a Y configuration. The bridge was designed by Edward Landor, who used the Thacher patent system of construction. The Y-Bridge, along with the three wooden bridges it replaced, has been a part of the national road system since the eighteenth century. [HAER, Significance]


1. VIEW, LOOKING NORTHWEST FROM PUTNAM HILL, SHOWING THREE BRIDGE SECTIONS - Y-Bridge, Spanning confluence of Muskingham & Licking Rivers, Zanesville, Muskingum County, OH

It was the only bridge in Zanesville which survived the great flood of 1913. During the floods the bridge's concrete parapets were demolished by railroad cars which floated down the river after being washed off the bridge immediately upstream to the Y-Bridge. The river rose to a depth of 51.8 feet, completely submerging the Y-Bridge. After the waters receded, the Y-Bridge was the only bridge in Zanesville which, with some repairs, could still be used. All the other bridges in Zanesville that crossed the Muskingum River had collapsed. [HAER-data]
It was one of the first bridges in the United States in which concrete-steel construction was used, and it was the only Y-shaped bridge in existence at that time. The Zanesvile Courier claimed it had "for one of its spans what is said to be the flattest arch ever used in a bridge built for ordinary traffic." [HAER-data]
The bridge consists of eight elliptical reinforced concrete spandrel-filled arches, resting on stone masonry piers and abutments. The piers are placed directly on the bedrock with only a concrete leveling course between the stone masonry and the bedrock. It is probable that the stone piers from the previous bridge were used in the 1900 construction. The piers were simply redressed and the cut-waters rounded at both ends. The form work for the concrete spandrel arches was apparently supported on heavy timber falsework. Construction joints in the arches are spaced six feet apart, indicating the size of the concrete lifts used. The deck rises to a height of forty feet above the river bed at the center pier. This height and the flat elliptical shape of the arches were obviously made to obtain as large a waterway opening as possible. In designing the bridge, Landor employed the system patented by Edwin Thacher and named after him. In this system, steel bars are embedded in concrete arch rings in two layers. These steel bars are 3/4" x 5" and have steel rivets driven into them to increase their grip. One layer of bars is two inches from the intrados and the other two inches from the extrados. The bars are spaced on approximately three-foot centers. The thickness of the arches and the width of the steel bars are varied according to span length. Three widths of steel bars were used in the Y-Bridge: 3, 4-1/2, and 5 inches. Fifteen pairs of steel bars were used in each span. The bars were placed continuously over the piers and anchored into the skewbacks of the abutments an the center pier. [HAER-data]


Every photo I have seen of the bridge has very light traffic. And because of drones, I've seen several photos.
Colton Tabor, Jun 2020
Designing the 3-way traffic light system must have been interesting.
Street View

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