Tighe & Bond assisted the Shelburne Falls Fire District in performing a structural assessment of the Bridge of Flowers. The bridge is an internationally known landmark and attraction in Western Massachusetts.
Deemed an “eyesore,” in 1928 after the bridge was closed due to the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway filing bankruptcy, residents developed the unique plan of reviving the bridge as a linear garden and the Bridge of Flowers Committee was organized to facilitate bridge repairs and reconstruction. The project established the Bridge of Flowers in 1929 as one of the premier tourist attractions in Massachusetts and the centerpiece of the Village of Shelburne Falls.
The bridge is a five-span, concrete spandrel arch. Concrete spandrel walls support fill topped by loam for plantings. Construction photos suggest that piers in the river are supported by shallow foundations on ledge. Forms were built from the footings and the arches were cast-in-place. Vehicular loads are restricted from the bridge. Most of the loading is a result of the extensive gardens, including small trees and mature vines.
Tighe & Bond performed a structural assessment in September 2019. The assessment was performed on deck, in the Deerfield River, and via Tighe & Bond’s drones. Tighe & Bond evaluated pier footings for overall stability and signs of scour. The firm coordinated with the local dam authority to lower the water level in the river to facilitate assessment.
Tighe & Bond assessed exposed concrete surfaces on the bridge for signs of deterioration including cracks, spalls, efflorescence, abrasion, breakdown of cementitious material, rust staining, and potentially other signs. The work also included the assessment of a test pit to expose reinforcement, development of conceptual design costs for rehabilitation, and assistance to the Fire District to determine and evaluate potential sources of funding to support upcoming rehabilitation work.