Valley's most beautiful bridge is hidden away in Northfield as the town
debates its destiny. Thursday, July 23, 2009 By Mark Roessler
is blessed with many magnificent bridges crossing the
Springfield, there's the Memorial Bridge with its towering sconces
perched upon mighty white pillars. In Northampton, the Calvin Coolidge
Bridge's Art Deco eagles welcome drivers to share their aerie for a
moment with its breathtaking views of the Holyoke Range. Turners Falls
has its Avenue A bridge spanning the powerful falls, and up the road,
between Gill and Erving, is the French King Bridge, with its steel deck
stretching 140 feet above the river. In 1932, the year it was opened to
traffic, the American Institute of Steel Construction named it the "most
beautiful bridge" built in America that year.
But the fairest bridge in all the Pioneer
Valley is not the tallest, longest or most prominently placed. The
Schell Bridge, built in 1903, is a small, unassuming bridge, built not
for speed or for industry, but built as a gift to unite a geographically
divided community. Click
HERE or on the photo to read the entire article.
Banker & Tradesman - December, 2007
The December 10, 2007 issue of Banker & Tradesman,
the premier Real Estate,
Banking and Commercial Weekly in Massachusetts, did a feature story about
Northfield and focused closely on the efforts to save Schell
Click HERE or on the photo to get a readable, printable copy of the article.
The Recorder - July, 2007
Click on the image to go to a printable PDF file
In case you didn't notice, there is a new bike/pedestrian bridge being designed and built on behalf of the City of Keene, NH that will span a four lane road, and fill a gap in the developing rail trail network. The engineering firm that won the competition to build this bridge--GV Engineering out of Keene, won with an interesting design. The are proposing to emulate the Schell Bridge. Click here.
It is interesting that people in other states have recognized the Schell's distinctive design and have begun to use it again--over 100 years after the original was built.
In case you haven't seen it, one of our great supporters, Nathan Tufts, wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece in the Greenfield Recorder about the prospect for a grand vision for Northfield. Tying together the campus of NMH to the Schell Bridge. Click on the link below to go to a printable PDF file of this essay.
Another signature type bridge--the ex New Haven RR High Bridge over the Hudson is going to be saved by the State of New York--click on the image to read the story
Click on the image to go to a PDF file
Banker & Tradesman, the premier Real Estate, Banking and Commercial Weekly in Massachusetts did a feature story about Northfield and focused closely on our efforts to Save the Schell Bridge.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE STORY ABOUT THE SCHELL BRIDGE
A compelling story about the Schell Bridge appears in the spring 2007 issue of the Society for Industrial Acheology's Newsletter. SIA is a forum on the working past in which people share knowledge as well as the interest and challenge of exploring the structures and sites of our industrial heritage. The Society also seeks to raise awareness among communities, public agencies, and property owners about the advantages of preserving the landscapes, structures, and equipment of significance in the history of technology, engineering, and industry, through continued or adaptive re-use.
From its formation in 1971, the Society has promoted the study and preservation of the physical survivals of technological and industrial development and change. The "archeology" in the Society's name signifies its principal concern with the tangible evidence of early industry. The SIA reaches across North America for traces of the industrial past. Each year, in different cities or regions with a significant legacy of industrial activity, the SIA holds its late-spring Annual Conference, and a Fall Tour in another interesting location. Central to these gatherings are special tours of contemporary and historic industrial sites and processes. Recent fall IA tours included trips to Detroit, Michigan, Wilmington, Delaware, Northest Montana, Lehigh Valley, PA and Syracuse, NY. [from the SIA website at http://www.sia-web.org/ ]
Schell Bridge focus of 'charette' Thursday, May 17, 2007 THE RECORDER, Greenfield, Massachusetts,
Northfield --Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, a nationally recognized engineering firm, has agreed to come to Northfield for two days in June to lead a public participation charette about the Schell Bridge. The long-closed span over the Connecticut River is the object of a local preservation drive sponsored by Friends of Schell Bridge. [click here to read the entire article]
Northfield span fans keep trying Tuesday, March 27, 2007 By DAVID A. VALLETTE for the Republican email@example.com NORTHFIELD - The Friends of Schell Bridge have prepared a draft plan for rehabilitating the more than 100-year-old structure that the state plans to demolish.
SCHELL BRIDGE -- AND ITS IMPORTANCE - - IS MENTIONED PROMINENTLY IN HEARING BY TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND
Conn. River meetings outline plans for future RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff Saturday, 1-27-07
Recreation and farmland preservation were the key themes of a "Listening to the River" discussion this week to gauge what's needed to protect the Connecticut River Watershed from encroaching development.
Thursday's session at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls was the third of four forums being held this month in the Pioneer Valley by the Trust for Public Land. Read on. . .
Friends oppose bridge plans Sunday, December 03, 2006, Springfield Republican By DAVID A. VALLETTE firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTHFIELD - The state Highway Department is moving ahead with its plan to dismantle and remove the historic Schell Bridge from the Connecticut River, a department spokesman said earlier this week.
It has been nine years since the town, which owns the span, gave the state authorization to take it down, and the removal will likely happen sometime in 2007, once the funding sources are identified, said Erik Abell, assistant press secretary.
"We're going to move forward with the demolition of the Schell Bridge," Abell said.
Trying to intercede in the project is the Friends of Schell Bridge, which intends to overturn the 1987 Town Meeting vote for demolition, find some other entity than the town to become the bridge's owner, then get the span rehabilitated for bicycle and pedestrian use, possibly adding small parks at each end. Read the entire story. . .
National Trust for Historic Preservation weighs-in, in support of the Schell Bridge
Click on the image to go to a PDF of the letter
In early October of 2006, the Northfield Select Board received a ringing endorsement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to save the bridge. Click here or on the image to the left to go to a page which has the letter.
SCHELL BRIDGE PETITION DRIVE UNDERWAY August 1, 2006, by Janet Bond, Greenfield Recorder. Group says it has about 500 signatures to save bridge.NORTHFIELD - Efforts to turn around the fate of the Schell Bridge have turned entirely grass-roots. A petition drive is under way to collect signatures and show selectmen what support the bridge has.
"We the undersigned, want to see the Schell Bridge saved," is the simply worded petition available on the Friends of Schell Bridge Web site, http://www.shellbridge.org.
President of the nonprofit friends group, Marie Ferre, said that after about two weeks of "canvassing" Northfield residents some 15 friends have collected about 500 signatures. The group took this tack on its two-year journey to have the 100-year, Ferre said-old bridge saved from a planned demolition. Ferre, representing the Historical Commission, had asked the selectmen in July if they would recommend the bridge be put on the National Historic Registry.
The selectmen suggested waiting.
"Town meeting (in the 1980s) directed us to take it down. We'd be sending mixed messages," Selectman Chad Glover explained in an interview from his home. The Board of Selectmen is also expecting a public information meeting with officials from the state Highway Department to report on cost and procedure to demolish the bridge as well as the cost to renovate the bridge, presumably as a foot bridge.
The friends are collecting the petitions to bring to that still unscheduled meeting, Ferre said. "It's extremely painful for us right now because we can't do anything," said Ferre. The friends have collected estimates that restoring the bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use would cost "somewhere in the $5 million region, inclding removal of lead paint," she said.
The figure is derived from "costs added in by three other firms separately," she explained, adding that she can't give out the names of the engineering firms that offered estimates.
Glover was on the Board of Selectman that originally closed the bridge in 1985. "And I was living in west Northfield at the time. My house was right near the Vernon line and I had to travel the farthest when the bridge was closed. "It was closed because insurance underwriters refused to cover it because it was unsafe."
Glover is no stranger to civic activism in the cause of the bridge. "When I lived over in west Northfield, we'd take polls of cars using the bridge. We did that just to kind of show that it was a pretty important bridge."
Glover said the bridge was used by milk trucks and trucks from the old Northfield sands and gravel, "some pretty heavy trucks." Those trucks took their toll on the wooden deck of the bridge, which would buckle every spring. "We'd wait until the deck dried out and would come down by itself.
"We couldn't fix the deck because the weight of the asphalt paving exceeded the posted (weight) limit of the bridge."
"The bridge was not important to the town economically. It was not considered a collector's item back then," said Glover with wry humor.
It became a "collector's item" in 2003 when it was listed among the most historic resources in ithe state by the private group called PreservatiON Mass. The selection was based on an application written by Anthony Jewell of Buckland, who had led efforts to preserve the Iron Bridge in Shelburne, Trolley Car. No. 10 and who started the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.
The application spoke to unusual features of the Pennsylvania Truss Bridge built for Francis Schell, a wealthy summer resident of Northfield who later donated the bridge to the town. Jewell's efforts rejuvenated interest in refurbishing the bridge so that it could at least be used by bicyclists ands hikers.
Northfield ‘Songs and Stories’ Series Returns with Bluegrass Benefit
On Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m., the Centennial House Bed and Breakfast and Northfield Mountain Antiques of Northfield, Massachusetts will host ‘Pickin’ for the Bridge,’ an evening of bluegrass music being organized to benefit the Friends of Schell Bridge, Inc. Bluegrass artists from Western Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire will appear as part of the bed and breakfast’s continuing series called “Songs and Stories for Winter Evenings.” This year, the proprietors of the two Northfield businesses are joining forces to raise funds and awareness for a local campaign to save the town’s 103-year old Schell Bridge.
Closed in 1985, the historic span on the Connecticut River once linked both halves of the town of Northfield, providing people on the east side of the village with access to the town’s busy railroad hub. The Friends’ group is raising money to rehabilitate the bridge for bicycle and pedestrian use as part of a new tri-state rail trail initiative.
Among the artists scheduled to appear are Terry Atkinson of Greenfield and the Maple Ridge Band, Doug Downey, a banjo player and songwriter with New-Hampshire’s Pine Hill Ramblers, and Kathy White of Goshen, who plays fiddle and guitar. According to co-sponsor Ray Harris, owner of Northfield Mountain Antiques, the event will be an old fashioned bluegrass ‘pickin’ pile,’ which means anyone who plays bluegrass can come and join in the music.
Series organizers Joan and Steve Stoia began using their rambling bed and breakfast to showcase the arts in 2005. They say gathering around the hearth of a country inn to share songs and stories is a time-honored tradition they want to carry on at their bed and breakfast, which is located at 94 Main Street in Northfield.
The suggested donation is either $10 per person or a $15 membership in the Friends of Schell Bridge. The evening is open to the public and refreshments will be served courtesy of the Schell Board. Seating is limited. Members of the ‘Friends’ will be on hand to provide information about the project.
Lodging at the B&B is available with advance reservations at a special discount. For more information on lodging or the Schell Bridge project, contact Joan and Steve Stoia, Centennial House Bed & Breakfast, 94 Main Street, Northfield, Mass., 413-498-5921, email@example.com, or on the web at www.thecentennialhouse.com.
Letter to the Editor, Greenfield Recorder, Saturday, January 21, 2006
Protect the bridge
Some 20 years ago, they cut the monumental Bellows Falls arch bridge at its footings. It was collapsed into the Connecticut River. This was after several attempts to dynamite the "unsafe" bridge. New Hampshire, which has jurisdiction over the Connecticut River, lost it's most historic span. Today, a generic girder bridge spans the crossing. Residents of both Bellows Falls, Vt; and North Walpole, N.H., still regret the loss of this 1905 bridge. Some still have rivets and small plates as keepstakes.
Politicians had beat the drum to replace the Bellows Falls arch bridge. After the embarrassment at the failure to fell the bridge in a timely manner, many on both sides of the Connnecticut River had second thoughts about losing these grand bridges on the Upper Connecticut River. Plans to replace the Cornish-Windsor Covered bridge were abandoned. The great arch bridge at Orford, N.H. was restored with great fanfare. The Chesterfield (N.H.) Arch bridge was saved as a pedestrian crossing, its replacement a near replica. The Maidstone bridge, an 1890s bridge was rededicated this past summer after its restoration. It is the pride of both Maidstone, Vt., and Stratford Hollow, N.H.
Another grand bridge deserves veneration, Northfield's Schell Bridge. As a rare example of 1890s civil engineering, the Schell Bridge should be preserved for future generations, like its near contemporary, Boston's Northern Avenue Bridge. Make a restored Schell Bridge a river attraction. Make it a reason for the well-heeled visitor to leave the interstate, and spend time and money in Northfield.
State finds feasible way to take down structure
by Janet Bond Recorder Staff--December 7, 2005
Northfield- The state is moving forward with its plans to demolish Schell Bridge, while the Friends of Schell Bridge prepares to ask the town to save it.The birdge has been living on borrowed time for decades, but in the last two years, the Massachusetts HIghway Department has promised to move promptly toward its demolition.
At the same time, a group in Northfield formed the Friends of Schell Bridge and won from town meeting permission to work toward saving the bridge - so long's as their efforts did not interfere with state plans.
"Now the state could be a year away from destroying the bridge" Luisa Palewonsky, commission of the state Highway Department, said the state has found a feasible way to demolish the bridge by dropping it into the river and picking up the pieces.
Palewonsky said both the engineers at District 2 and the Boston department had signed off on the plan.
"We have to design the actual demolition. At a minimum, it's months away. We have to review the plans with town officials and then proceed," she said.
Palewonsky estimated the department would contact town officials in the next week and let them know what the plan is. The state Highway Department will also hold a public hearing regarding the proposal.
Palewonsky said the department had estimated renovation would cost several millions more than it would cost to demolish the bridge. She also said it was her understanding that town elected officials had decided to have the town-owned bridge taken down.
The Friends of the Schell Bridge plan to keep working toward saving the bridge.
Marie Ferre, chairman of Historical Commission and leader of the Friends, said the goal is to convince the town by May to rescind the demolition.
Ferre said the group is working to get the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.
Asked about fund-raising efforts to restore the bridge, Ferre said the "Friends are not in position to raise money until we get the vote (to have the bridge demolished) rescinded."
Response to the article on the left.
Schell Bridge - Whats Next? [letter to the Editor in the Greenfield Recorder, December 10, 2005]
As board members of the Friends of Schell Bridge, we are responding to the news article concerning the plans to take down the Schell Bridge. The Schell Bridge was placed on the Preservation Mass Most Endangered Places in the Commonwealth in 2003. After that a group of interested persons formed an organization whose mission is to save the bridge.
The Friends of Schell Bridge secured money to hire Smith College Engineers to do a study to find out if the bridge was structurally sound enough to save. The engineers determined that the iron structure needed some repair and partial replacements. However, it was decided the bridge was certainly worth saving. In addition, the Friends also asked Professor Ed Klokowski to dive and film the piers of the bridge and determine if they were still in good condition. No official inspection had been done since 1999. His findings determined that the piers were very fine and in excellent condition.
Mass Highway has been requested to demolish the bridge in any way they feel it would be cost effective. Unfortunately, the plan is to blow up the bridge and drop it into the Connecticut River. We have a serious concern that this would cause environmental problems including major erosion of the river banks.
Tearing down is an easy way out. The Schell Bridge is eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places. We have applied for this designation.
The fate of the bridge lays in the hands of the citizens of Northfield. The only way that this will happen is if the residents of Northfield vote to rescind the demolition article in May 2006. There will be a future date for townspeople to attend a public meeting to hear how this bridge will be demolished. Northfield residents need to attend this meeting to ask questions and state how they feel about the future of this historic monument.
An interest in hiking and bicycling as well as snowmobiling gives the bridge a unique connection to our growing recreational, regional area. As a border town with New Hampshire and Vermont we would like to draw people to our town over the bridge. The bike trail follows the Main Street in Northfield. These are just a few reasons to save the bridge.
Please visit our website www.schellbridge.org
The Friends of Schell Bridge got a shot in the arm when they learned tht the bridge can be fixed, according to a trio of Smith College engineering students.
And, it might cost almost as much to tear it down as to fix it, they told residents recently.
The students offered a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of the bridge and drawings that illustrated the findings following a months-long study of the bridge.
In an interview after the presentation, Taronne Tabucchi said, "At aan extra rough estimate, for the whole bridge to be rehabilitated, it would be at a minimum $1 million."
The three had an estimate of $700,000 to repair the trusses and replace the decking on the bridge, an estimate they'd arrived at with the help of two New York City bridge engineering specialists who were consultants to the project.
The students, explained Tabucchi, could only address those repairs that they were able to design solutions for themselves, with the help of the two professional engineers.
That meant the students focused on the trusses, that part of the bridge that distributes the load.
"Its the first thing they notice-one of the most important parts of the bridge," she said.
Rehabilitation will be possible," she said , but to be sure of cost and procedure, the town would need advice from techincal liaisons, a bridge inspection and a technical analysis.
"It's very structurally sound. It's strong for what it was intended for," she added.
What that means sfor a rusted 100-year od bridge that hasn't had a lick of maintenance for 30 years and is boarded over on both entrances, to an engineer's mind: "It's supporting its own weight and can withstand high winds."
That weight, counting only the trusses, is "350,000 pounds of raw steel."
The news was music to the ears of some 30 town residents who came to Town Hall for the presentation.
Marie Ferrre, chairwoman of the Friends of Schell Bridge and the Historical Commission, said the Friends' next step will be to hire a diver to take pictures of the piers, the underwater structure on which the bridge sits.
Ferre said she knows the state has plans for taking down the bridge. "We're in contact with MassHighway checking in on their progress. They have a design going for demolition. We're planning to find a way to stop the demolition," said Ferrre.
Schell Bridge, north of the Route 10 bridge, is a cantilever truss bridge built by the wealthy Francis Schell family and then given to the town.
The move to rehabilitate the bridge began with Anthony Jewell of Buckland, who prepared an application that got the bridge on the state's 10 Most Endangered Historic Resources list in 2003.
The Friends of Schell Bridge formed in January 2004 and that May persuaded the town at annual town meeting to give them time to get a second opinion on its viability.
The state had decided it would take many millions to repair and one million dollars to take down.
The Schell Bridge project was one of the several taken on by teams of students in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College.
Engineering students analyze Schell Bridge
By JANET BOND Recorder Staff
GREENFIELD RECORDER --Friday November 19, 2004
NORTHFIELD - With a chipping hammer, Eidan Webster tested the bearings on the western end of the Schell Bridge. What she found wasn't that great, but it was impressive.
"Taking this hammer, whacking as hard as we could and seeing the steel just falling off," she said marveling at how deteriorated the beam supporting that end of the bridge is.
"The bearings, to make a generalization, need to be completely replaced," said the Smith College engineering student.
Bearings are steel beams that attach a bridge to stone piers in the water and on either end of the river bank.
Webster is one of a team of three senior engineering students in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College which is analyzing the bridge to see what it will take to rehabilitate it.
According to their proposal, the team will be looking at the cost to make the bridge a hike/bike path or strong enough to accommodate emergency vehicles. The team is also aware that the town has budget constraints and would have to maintain any structure that is rehabilitated.
The team will structurally analyze the bridge and propose two rehabilitation options to the town by the end of their project in the spring.
The Friends of Schell Bridge contacted the program to see if it would be interested in taking on the 100-year-old bridge that has been closed to traffic since 1985. After years of neglect, the bridge has been living under a death sentence since 1992, saved only by the lack of money needed to bring it down.
In the last two years, preservationist Anthony Jewell, of Buckland, put together an application that won the bridge a place on a list of endangered historical sites and the state highway department put the town-owned bridge on the short list to be dismantled.
The result was renewed interest in the romance of the Schell Bridge, built by Francis Schell, son of a wealthy summer family, to make getting to the railroad station in West Northfield easier.
When his father died, Schell gave the bridge to the town in memory of his father, Robert.
The Schell family also built The Chateau, a 36-bedroom mansion on a 125-acre estate, for their use in the summer.
The bridge is all that remains of the glory days of Northfield and to a town that is losing the Northfield campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School, it has assumed greater stature for many town residents.
In May, residents at the annual town meeting said "yes" when asked if they would support an independent review of the bridge. The Board of Selectmen also threw their support behind the review once it found out that the review would not take the bridge off the state's list.
State engineers decided it would cost much less to take the bridge down than to rehabilitate it.
No one is saying fixing the bridge won't take millions of dollars, but the Friends and others would like to have the results of the senior design clinic to know what their next step might be.
On Sunday, the design clinic team of Eidan Webster, of Arizona, Taronne Tabucchi, of California, and Mimi Zhang, of Massachusetts plus two engineers from New York City with expertise in bridges, met at the bridge to get the necessary measurements for an evaluation.
Webster explained that her team took measurements from the most damaged area of a beam, for example, and would compare those measurements with the original dimensions using bridge analysis software.
She said that after talking with the engineers, however, it was clear that the four bearings would have to be replaced.
It's a project that Webster said she is really enjoying.
"It was fun just to get out there and just see everything, to meet the townspeople who are invested in helping and really excited. The work feels more relevant. We have this community contact, so it is more personal," she said.
The Friends prepared lunch, vegetable soup, turkey, salad and dessert and the five bridge workers spent an hour and a half eating and schmoozing with about 20 residents, according to Friends Chairman Marie Ferre.
At Smith College, Susannah Howe, the design clinic director, explained the senior capstone engineering program is a year-long course taken by all engineering majors in their senior year.
"The bridge is one of eight projects. What drew me to it was the local interest," she said, citing the importance of thinking about engineering "holistically, in a social context, and not doing engineering just in a vacuum."
"This project has a neat direct human element, let's us give back a little bit, and that's really neat," said Howe.
"When I went up, it was a rainy day and out of the mist, gray fog, this bridge was a soaring expanse," she said describing the beauty of the steel truss bridge.
Given enough money, said Howe, the bridge can be rehabilitated. It depends on the value the town assigns to the bridge, available grants, and just how difficult rehabilitating the bridge will be.
Three amigos with Schell in the background. Click on the picture to go to the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College
In the fall of 2004, three students from the Smith College, Picker Engineering Program were chosen to undertake an initial feasibility study as the structure of the Schell Bridge. The students are (from left to right) Eidan Webster, Taronne Tabucchi and Mimi Zhang.
Throughout the 2004-05 school year, they'll be undertaking a detailed analysis of the current status of the supporting members of the bridge and developing a strategy for rehabilitating the structure.
Together, they've come together to investigate the Schell Bridge. Stay tuned for their report.
Click on the picture here to visit the NMH web site.
On September 13, 2004, about a dozen students from the Northfield Mt. Hermon School along with members from the Board of Friends of Schell Bridge, Inc. worked to clear out brush and weeds from both approaches to the bridge.
This was neccessary to allow for good inspection of the bridge structure by the Smith College Engineering School students later this fall.
Members of the Board of "Friends of Schell Bridge, Inc" with engineers at the western approach to the Schell Bridge
On Monday, August 16, 2004, Board members of Friends of Schell Bridge, Inc. met with engineers from NYC and Northampton who did a quick cursory inspection of the Schell Bridge.
From left to right: Jerry and Jean Wagener, Marie Ferre, Jean Kozlowski, Tony Jewell, Joanne McGee, Eli Gottlieb, Susannah Howe (and Rowan Howe in the child carrier), Tom Duffy and Maureen Moore. Kneeling is Karen Gottlieb.
SchellBridge gets second chance for renovation
by Janet Bond,Greenfield Recorder Staff, August 11, 2004
Northfield - SchellBridge will get a second opinion on its chances for rehabilitation.
The bridge will be the patient in a year-long design clinic for students in the Smith College Picker Engineering program.
On Monday, Design Clinic Director Susannah V. Howe will visit the bridge with two other structural engineeers Thomas Duffy, of Hardesty and Hanover, Eli Gottlieib of Thornton and Homati both from New York City.
The bridge was closed to automobile traffic in 1985 and has been scheduled to be torn down since 1992.
It seemed to get a second life when Shelburne's Anthony Jewell took an interest in its preservation and successfully applied to have the bridge included on the Massachusett's 10 Most Endangered Historic Resources list for 2003. Jewell successfully advocated for the rehabilitation of the IronBridge in ShelburneFalls.
With the renewed interest, the town was able to get a final opinion from the Massachusetts Highway Department on whether the bridge could be saved. The highway department said it would take millions ofdollars to restore the bridge and agreed to pay to havsse the bridge torn down.
However, interested townspeople would not let the idea of saving the bridge die and formed the friends with official nonprofit status. Duffy specialized in historic bridges, said Maureen Spaulding of the Friends of Schell Bridge.
Spaulding said Duffy and Gottlieb are donating their services as consultants to the students in the design clinic. The Friends of Schell Bridge will assume responsibility for the estimated $2,000 in expenses for the project.
Spaulding emphasized the project will not cost the town any money.
The friends group approached SmithCollege engineering program for help and received approval from the town at annual town meeting to have another evaluation of options for the bridge.
The 100-year cantilever truss bridge was built by the wealthy Francis Schell family, which summered in Northfield. It once connected East Northfield to West Northfield and was used by Dwight Moody's two schools, Mount Hermon School (for boys) and Northfield Seminary ( for girls), which are located on opposite sides of the Connecticut River.
Howe said the site visit will familiarize the three with the bridge.
We'll see it and see what the situation is - what kind of access we'll have, what tests can be done. "The project will happen regardless of what we see on Monday. The goal is just to get a better handle on the picture of the bridge," she said.
The students will work on a design to rehabilitate the bridge. If they decide the bridge cannot be rehabilitated "another component of the project will be to come up with redesign," said Howe.
Here's an interesting document from MassHwy circa 1994, notifying the Federal Highway Administration that they [and the Board of Selectmen of the town of Northfield] intend to demolish the bridge. What is not mentioned is the fact that they'll need both Federal Highway permission--and money. Click here to read the letter.
In July of 1991, Richie Davis, reporter for the Greenfield Recorder wrote an article about how the Schell Bridge was slated to be torn down. The entire article in a readable PDF format can be found at the link below.
Click on this image to go to a PDF file of this article.
Here's an article from the Springfield Union-News in 1986 about residents clamoring to have the bridge renovated--and reopened. Click here or on the image to go to a full size PDF version of this article.
Friends of Schell Bridge a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation ¦ P.O. Box 27, Northfield, MA 01360 ¦ info@SchellBridge.org