9-Span Industrial Grace – by Guy Rhodes

9-span bridge

A view of the northbound end of the 9-Span Bridge in Hammond, Ind., late Sunday, January 13, 2013. The bridge, which has connected the cities of Hammond and East Chicago since 1937, will be closed permanently on Monday for demolition and replacement.

East Chicago based photographer, lighting designer, and filmmaker Guy Rhodes shot the 9-Span Bridge in Indiana, which will be demolished and replaced with a new design.

Perhaps it can be attributed to my upbringing in one of the most industrial parts of the United States (I’m sure being really interested in engineering and technology hasn’t hurt), but I have a huge soft spot in my heart when it comes to giant structures that have been a part of the local landscape for my entire life. Enter the 9-Span Bridge, the hulk of rusty green steel which carries Indianapolis Blvd. over the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad’s Gibson Yard just a mile or so from my home. Built in 1935 and opened in 1937, the bridge has connected the cities of Hammond and East Chicago, Indiana, for over 75 years.

Sadly, time and the elements have taken their toll on this engineering marvel, which was once the longest bridge over land in the country. A bridge deck just barely wide enough for two lanes of traffic in each direction (this was limited to one lane in each direction some time ago to save wear and tear on the structure), coupled with significant rust and deterioration, forced the state to design a replacement for the bridge and plan the demolition of the current one. Sunday marked the last day traffic will flow over the quarter-mile-long structure.

Continue reading and see more photos on Guy’s blog.

9-span bridge

Portal bracing overhead.

9-span bridge

Icy darkness.

9-span bridge

A view of rivets inside one of the trusses (I had to stick my lens and flash through very small openings to create this image). You can see the amount of rust which has started to consume the structure. Special thanks to fellow photographer Jim Karczewski for holding the flash through the structure above me for this image. Jim happened to stop by to document the last evening of the bridge as well.

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