Local Structural Engineer Dispels Rumors about the San Antonio Street Bridge

Post date: Aug 28, 2014 6:48:54 PM

You may remember that a long time ago Outlier (in the guise of Amy Stone) assisted with a Local Infrastructure report for ASCE.  In this report, and in a presentation (sometimes titled Bridges for non-Bridge engineers), I did a little research on the San Antonio Street Bridge in New Braunfels.  Now, if you have driven over this bridge, you know it.  It's right below the tube chute, there is heavy pedestrian traffic and the lanes are sized for horseless carriages.  

In writing about this bridge, I had heard rumors that the Sophienburg, our local museum, had more documentation about this bridge.  During the paper writing, it wasn't critical that I know the original designer, or the original design load of the bridge, so I didn't track those rumors down.  No one seemed to know for sure, though.  I can't even remember who told me originally that the Sophienburg had more information.  

For this bridge, and many others of its age (1923), there are no known copies of its original design documents.  Wouldn't that be exciting to find them?  

Just recently, this bridge has come up again in our local news. Drawn by the infinitesimal chance of Engineering Glory, I decided to go ahead and spend my time researching at the Sophienburg.  I called.  Their staff, exceedingly helpful over the phone, tried to warn me, but at this point, I wanted to see for myself.  

So I went.  As always, the building was lovely, the staff helpful.  

However, I knew as soon as I saw the file that the rumors were untrue.  

It had in it:

4 modern articles from the Herald Zeitung,

2 copies of the same synopsis to the City Council of the bridge's known history (less than a full page)

1 postcard sketch

1 picture of conflicting date that shows the previous bridge...maybe.

However disappointing this might be to treasure hunters, I am thrilled.  I feel like I have closed a question that has been open for 3 years.  Maybe not in your mind, but in mine.  

Now that summer is almost over, you should drive over this bridge before it gets shut down for construction (hint, hint... just starting another rumor here).