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Minnesota's Historic Bridges
Bridge No. L-5853
Description


Bridge No. L-5853

Bridge No. L-5853 spans an abandoned, east-west, street railway right-of-way located within the boundaries of Como Park, northwest of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. The bridge is a short distance north of east-west Horton Avenue, which is the southern boundary of the south central part of the park. Como Park is the city's major urban park and was designed in the 19th century to encompass the wooded and grassy rolling hills around Lake Como.

Bridge No. L-5853 is a three-span, open-spandrel, reinforced concrete, barrel-arch bridge. It has an overall structure length of 88 feet, with a clear main-span arch of 50 feet and flanking slab spans of 12 feet each. The out-out width is 17.5 feet, carrying a pedestrian walkway of 15 feet. The rise is 12.5 feet. The slab floor is carried by skew-back piers and the center portion of the arch ring. The flanking approaches span the spaces between the piers and abutments. The reinforcement of Bridge No. L-5853 consists of five latticed Melan ribs in the arch ring and Thacher bars in the skewback piers and floor slabs. In the floor slabs, 3/4-inch bars parallel to the bridge axis are placed 7 1/2 inches apart on the tension side. The bars in the piers are of the same diameter and have the same spacing, but are set vertically and on both sides of the pier. The floor slab retains the original cornice molding and the end posts, but the open-balustrade railing with separately cast, round balusters, intermediate posts and hand-rails are gone. Remnants of suspension brackets for the street railway catenary cables are attached to the arch soffit. The bridge has suffered some spalling, but the significant Melan-reinforced concrete arch retains full integrity.

Architecturally, the bridge is designed in the Classical Revival style, as embodied largely in the railings. A description of the bridge in Fourteen Annual Report 1904 of the St. Paul Board of Park Commissioners says that it was "moulded into forms of architectural elegance." A notable feature in the surface finish of the concrete. In order to avoid form marks on the exposed surfaces the forms were covered with patent wood laths, consisting of boards with parallel dove-tail grooves and ribs, which were plastered with a coat of cement mortar finished smooth. Before pouring the concrete the plaster lining was coated with boiled linseed oil. This expensive lining was used on all exposed surfaces, including the soffit of the arch.


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