|Nicol Road Bridge||Truss||Nicol Road||Sanilac County, MI||Rural||Black River|
This bridge was the last truss bridge on public roads in Sanilac County. Cash Road Bridge is moved onto private property, and Church Road Bridge is destroyed. The remote Nicol Road Bridge, which carried little traffic, and had become a rare piece of Sanilac County's transportation heritage, was torn down in spring of 2005.
This bridge was a warren pony truss, and the connections were riveted. No v-lacing was present on any members. It was built in 1905, according to the Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory. It was most likely built to a plan that was somewhat standard at the time. However, due to the number of bridges like this remaining, this bridge had become rare and unique. Sanilac County Road Commission decided the best way to celebrate this bridge's centennial year was to demolish it.
The Nicol Road Bridge appeared to retain a high degree of historic integrity. The deck was concrete poured on top of corrugated steel, and the guardrails were latticed. This all is in keeping with other warren pony trusses of the time. There appear to be have been no major modifications to this bridge, with the exception of a small repair to the guardrails, which was done by trying to weld and patch the existing lattice railings. It looked a like a car had taken a swipe at the bridge causing some damage to the railings. The bridge had a posted weight limit of 8-14-14 tons. The abutments of the bridge were concrete, and the bridge was set down into those abutments a bit, giving it a low appearance.
The abutments had deteriorated a quite a bit, and the bridge looked like it might eventually fall, because the concrete under the feet of the bridge was falling away. The deck was also bad, and the corrugated steel was falling apart, which would have eventually caused the deck to fall out wherever the corrugated steel failed. Despite these problems, the actual truss structure's excellent condition was unparalleled. I have never seen a standard warren pony truss with such good steel condition. Although the bridge had no paint, except for a hint of paint on the main i-beams, and was rusty, there was no deterioration of the steel. Many standard plan warren pony trusses have holes in their i-beams which is a severe problem for their structural integrity Card Road Bridge is one such example of that. Nicol Road on the other hand was a very solid bridge. If I had any say, I would have taken the deck off this bridge. Then I would have lifted it off the river and constructed new abutments. I would sandblast and paint the truss structure. I would have then set the bridge back on the abutments, and put a new deck on it, and enjoy a historic bridge for another century.
CR Hunt were the contractors who got the job of replacing this bridge. They were gracious enough to let me photograph the demolition of this bridge. I did not see all the events like I did with Church Road, since I was busy with other things at the time, but I have a good compilation of pictures that shows quite a bit of the demolition. Although I did not witness it, my understanding is that after they removed the deck they used a crane to lift the bridge off the river. They then cut the bridge up off shore.
I also worked out a deal with the contractors, who let me have the guardrails off the bridge. Some of them I am going to just use as yard decorations, which will be my little memorial to the bridge. The rest may end up on a private beam bridge over a creek near my friend Luke Gordon's house. Either way, I am happy to have the railings as memories of the bridge to enjoy.
Since this bridge was small, and was the last Sanilac county truss bridge, and had historic and structural integrity, restoring this bridge should have been a no-brainer. Instead, Sanilac County acted with no brains, and went ahead and had the bridge demolished. Now Sanilac County has entered the list of truss-less counties. Another example of a truss-less county in Michigan is Oakland. Nicol Road is not heavily traveled, and there are nearby east-west roads crossing this river that have legal-load carrying capacity. I find it odd how government spends money. Sanilac County had a budget crisis and among other things, had to cut the number of police officers patrolling their county, yet they still spend money on replacing beautiful bridges on trivial roads like this. What a waste.
Perhaps the road commission of Sanilac County is happy about this, but the destruction of this bridge has marked the conclusion of of any major bridge research and photography in this county for me. I used to like the old time country atmosphere of Sanilac County, but the destruction of three truss bridges in two years has left a bitter taste in my mouth. It is sad that it has to be this way with so many counties. I would have rather helped work with the county on a plan to raise awareness and restore these wonderful bridges.