How the Bridge Was Built

Official Data Connected With Its Construction from Time of Congressional and Issuing of War Department Permit Until Day of Completion – Valuable to file Away

 The Maysville-Aberdeen Vehicular Bridge, dedicated and opened to public use Wednesday, November 25, 1931, is one of four of its type in America, three in the United States and one in Canada.  The George Washington Bridge [external link] across the Hudson is the largest, with the local span second in length of span from tower to tower.

 A few facts are given concerning the construction of the Maysville-Aberdeen Bridge that may be interesting to the reader and for filing away for future reference.

 The bill authorizing the Kentucky State Highway Commission to construct a bridge at this point passed Congress on June 11, 1930.

 The permit of the War Department authorizing the construction of a bridge across the navigable stream, the Ohio River, was signed by Assistant Secretary of War Frederick M. Payne, at Washington, D. C. on Monday, June 30, 1930, in the presence of a local committee.

 The contract for construction of the bridge was awarded by the Kentucky State Highway Commission in the Federal Building at Frankfort, Ky., on September 15, 1930.

 To the Dravo Construction company of Pittsburgh, Pa., was awarded the contract for the substructure, and grant of 240 days was made.  The company began work October 15, 1930, and completed the substructure September 1, 1931.

 The John A. Roebling Sons Company of Trenton, New Jersey, was awarded the contract for the superstructure, granted 270 days in which to complete the work.  Active work was begun by this company March 1, 1931, and the bridge was completed for the dedication.

 The officials of the Dravo Construction Company, in active charge were Ed Wiher, superintendent, and Richard F. Hanson, engineering assistant.

 The officials for John A. Roebling Sons Company, in active charge were Wade Cline, superintendent, and R. J. Cole, resident engineer.

 Consulting Engineers to the State Highway Commission who directed the construction, drew all plans, maps, blueprints and designing connected with the construction was the firm of Masters & Modjeski,[external link] internationally known bridge architects and builders. 

The resident engineer was C. W. Hanson, assisted by Wallace J. Curtis.  Offices were opened near the bridge site October 10, 1930, and construction of the piers began.

 The anchor pier on the Kentucky side is the largest and heaviest of all.  It is 40 x 78 feet caisson.  It is 86 feet below and 49 feet above the ground.  It contains 12,500 cubic yards of concrete and weighs approximately 2,500 tons, or 5,000,000 pounds.

 The total cubic yards of masonry work in all the piers and abutments of the bridge is 29,100, weighing 5,820 tons, or 11,640,000 pounds.

 The weight of the steel in the bridge is approximately 3,500 tons.  The larger part of the steel came from Pittsburgh by river.  The cable wires were manufactured by the Roebling plant in Trenton, New Jersey.  There are 61 strands of wire that were woven into the cable that is 13 inches in diameter.  The cables themselves weigh 700 tons.

The length of the bridge from Third Street in Maysville to the abutment on the Aberdeen side o the river is 3,163 feet and 11 inches.  The distance between the two main piers, the main span, is 1,060 feet.  The side spans from each tower, which is 205 feet high, to cable bend piers is 465 feet making the length of the main bridge 1,990 feet and 4 inches.  The bridge roadway is 20 feet wide, with sidewalk on the down-river side of 4 feet and 8 inches in width.

 J. F. Hardymon Company had the contract for paving, laying the sidewalk and erecting the toll house at the third street entrance.  The company also later took the lighting contract and in the system installed there are 48 lights.

 The erection of the two towers that support the cables is considered novel by builders, as was the sinking of the shafts for the anchor piers.  Massive sections of structural steel weighing 25 tons each were lifted into place by a derrick erected on two barges anchored in the river.  The tower on the Kentucky side of the river was erected in 4 ½ days and the one on the Ohio side in 3 ½ days, which establishes a record in steel construction that has attracted the attention of the building world.  The Roebling Company has extensively broadcasted this work because it deserves such mention for the information of others.

 Both constructions, sub and super, were by the most modernly known methods – something new to engineers, many of whom came long distances just to see how it was done.

 The Maysville-Aberdeen Vehicular Bridge cost approximately $1,600,000.  Bonds were issued and when these are paid by tolls charged those who use the span, the bridge will be opened and free for all to use.  The taxpayers of Kentucky have not paid one penny towards its construction.  Its promotion cost the taxpayers nothing.

 In the total cost is that for property needed for approaches to the bridge.  There was $71,000 expended for that purpose - $63,000 on the Kentucky side and $8,000 on the Ohio side.  The Kentucky State Highway Commission salvaged the buildings on the Kentucky side for $1,200 and yet own a lot for which $2,700 has been offered.

 Happily there were no fatal accidents resulting during the time of construction, which is considered most unusual by builders generally.  The average loss of life on constructions of such magnitude has been placed at four.  A few workmen were injured, but no fatalities occurred.


From the Maysville’s Daily Independent, November 25, 1931