The Rural Studio #2 - Perry Lakes Park Covered Bridge

To increase access to the east side of the park, this bridge was erected in 2004 across one of the muddy creeks that wend through the area by the student team of Matthew Edwards, Lynielle Houston, Charlie Jorgensen, and Sara Singleton. Asymmetrical poured concrete block abutments anchor the steel cables that support the span. In a curious arrangement that I've not seen before, horizontal primary cables run from the block through eye bolts attached to the walking surface, and beyond to the block abutments on the far side. The roof's support structure of cross-braced, repurposed angle iron is built upon the walkway, and tensioned on each end with a separate cable that loops around a large pipe. The pipe runs between the sections of the abutment and contains the main support cable.  

The bridge is in that perfect state where the vegetation has begun to add an extra layer of character. Above, creeper vines hang in loops, reaching down from the trees. From below, fresh spring vines push through last year's dead flowers and pricker bushes. Along the notch in the roof, a berm of dead leaves steadily compresses, composting.

Much of the civic infrastructure in the rural south was executed in two phases; during Reconstruction, and again during the era of the Civilian Conservation Corps as the nation built its way out of the Great Depression. The language of those two phases shares some common elements: tin roofing and later galvanized steel sheeting, angle iron, and especially during the '30s, reinforced concrete. They represent the support structure, the framework, and the outer weather shield of thousands of buildings across the south and west. This footbridge is an imaginative reuse of all of three. The concrete footings and abutments are clearly new, the galvanized roofing is creased and holed with age, and the angle iron is furred with rust. Although visually decrepit, it's also simply functional. It feels Victorian and post-apocalyptic all at once.

After 13 years, the bridge sways a bit and the cables could stand to have some of the slack taken out. I wonder how much a single steel cable in this kind of arrangement can be expected to stretch over time?  Will it stop loosening at some point, or will it keep stretching and flexing in every hot spell?

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