Lesson 5 on Civil Engineering: Building Bridges, A Case Study (October 23-24)

Objectives:  (1) To gain an appreciation of some of the non-engineering issues that affect the work of civil engineers working on public projects. (2)  To improve writing skills in order to clearly express ideas.  Neatness counts.

Links to articles relating to the interesting story of the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge  follow.  The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge is a tied-arch bridge which opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1977.

Read the articles so you can answer the questions.

Please respond to the 19 questions which appear below.  Each response should be in the form of sentences and paragraphs, rather than bullet points or outline.

Article #1:  Bridge to Nowhere! A Brief History of the Hoan Bridge,  Part I (PDF)

(1)  Why did Milwaukee seek Federal assistance in building the bridge in the 1930’s?

(2) Initial funding for the bridge in the 1930’s was sought through what depression era program?

(3) In the 1950’s Milwaukee again considered a bridge at the same location. What kind of bridge was envisioned at this time, and why wasn’t it built?

(4) Under what Federal act was funding for the bridge sought in the early 1960’s?

(5) To what did the bridge at this location need to connect in order to qualify for federal funds in the 1960’s?

(6) In the 1960’s, Milwaukee city leaders agreed the bridge should be something of a gateway to the city–a grand entrance.  Some considered a design along the lines of the Butterfly Bridge designed by what famous architect?

(7) The Federal government decided in the 1960’s what feature had to be changed before they would agree to  fund 90% of its construction?

Article #2: Bridge to Nowhere! A Brief History of the Hoan Bridge,  Part II (PDF)

(8) In October, 1971,  County Board of Supervisors voted to name the span for the  Daniel W. Hoan.  Who was Daniel Hoan?

(9) Why did a Federal Judge halt the highway system connecting to the Hoan Bridge in February 1973?

(10) What happened in June 1973 that led to an investigation which further cast doubt on the future of the Hoan Bridge?

(11) In July 1973, what did the freighter Ruthie Michaels have to do which gave the Hoan Bridge more bad publicity?

(12) The Hoan Bridge was honored by the American Institute of Steel Construction as one of the 17 most beautiful bridges to open to traffic in 1974.  What was unusual about the timing of this award?

(13) What did President Ford do in 1975 that affected the Hoan Bridge?

(14) When was the the Daniel W. Hoan Memorial Bridge finally opened to traffic?

Article #3:  Wisconsin Highways Newsletter, Hoan Bridge: 2000.

(15) What happened in September 1998 that finally removed the Hoan Bridge’s designation as “a bridge to nowhere”?

(16) What engineering problem developed on the Hoan Bridge in December 2000?

Other sources:

(17)  Critics of the Hoan Bridge have called for it to be torn down and replaced, rather than repaired.  Among the reasons replaced are that a replacement bridge would be connected to the street grid, with more on and off points to the freeway.   In your opinion, should economic factors such as this, outweigh the importance of a grand entrance to the city?  In a few paragraphs, explain why or why not. Who should decide–the voters, the city officials, federal government, or someone else?

(18)  Critics of the Hoan Bridge also say a replacement bridge could be much cheaper to maintain and repair.  In your opinion, should maintenance and repair costs outweigh the importance of a grand entrance to the city? In a few paragraphs, explain why or why not.  Who should decide–the voters, the city officials, federal government, or someone else?

(19)  When the bridge partially collapsed in 2000, motorists were on the highway.  The sewer plant (and workers) below were in danger.  Should a bridge that has suffered serious structural problems in the past be torn down before someone is injured or killed?  What if engineers certify any necessary repairs make the bridge safe again?