Step 3: Set up your delivery
It wasn’t until November when the construction company called up and said “We’re gonna take you bridge apart real soon here. Where do you want it?”
So the next step is simple: Let them know where & how to deliver it. It’s your bridge now, so tell them in what condition you want it in. I asked that (if they could) they pick it up in one piece (deck and all) and drop it on my abutments, still intact, but they said “No can do”. As they explained, they could have done it that way but it needed to be taken out in two steps, as it was a bit too long and wide to make some of the sharp corners in one piece. So then I told them that the only stipulation that I had in accepting this bridge was that the moving crew could not take the trusses apart , as it was hot-riveted and they would not go back together again. They agreed, so they dropped them off intact.
I was like a kid in a candy store at Christmas time! I went down to watch them take it apart. Here is a picture of what the sight looked like after they took it out. While I was there the farmer from the house across the creek came down and spoke to me about it. He was really jazzed that it was going to a good home and then he told me the most incredible story about that little bridge I had ever heard. Here is the story he told [paraphrased]:
About 20 years back he was building a dairy barn and needed about 7 yards of cement for the floor. When the cement guy said he was on his way he stepped out to watch him come down the road. Only he didn’t come down the road; the driver had taken the wrong route, and without knowing what lay ahead he drove that cement truck with 7 yards of cement [turning in the back] across that little bridge. Long about now [he said to himself] “Oh crap, this ain’t good …”. He fully expected to watch the whole rig drop 20 foot into the creek below and so he made ready to call the local hospital. Much to his surprise the bridge flexed and moaned a bit but let the truck on across.
Okay, for all you engineers out there, let’s crunch some numbers here: at 4,695lbs/cu yds he had about 32,875 lbs of load on the back of a cement truck that weighed somewhere between 30,000 lbs and 45,000 lbs empty. Since most cement trucks [that can carry 7 yards in one load] are rated at 9 yards total, he probably weighed closer to the 45,000 lbs. For the sake of being conservative let’s say he weighed about 40,000 lbs empty. This means he drove over 72,000 lbs (36 tons!) across a little bridge with a 3 ton weight limit unscathed. And, since it is at the bottom of a windy road, I can promise you he didn’t have much speed when his wheel hit that wooden deck. Pretty strong, huh…
I took a before and after picture of the original site after they took the bridge out. Wow…what a mess! Here (also) is the front page of the local paper showing the drop off. I now had my 15 minutes of fame, right alongside there with our own local version of the Uni-bomber's crew!…Cool!