While we all want it to go, to be replaced by a new and safer structure, we’d like to preserve the memories embedded in our minds of that which is old. The Highway 47 Bridge Enhancement Committee is looking for ideas that would make the new bridge over the Missouri River at Washington unique and which would preserve the memories of the 1930s structure that will be removed.
First of all, the design should be different than the new bridge at Hermann over the same river. That design is all right but there’s nothing unique about it. New bridges are sleek appearing but somewhat monotonous. The old bridge at Washington has a strength appearance, much like the people on both sides of the river. While not totally unique, it has that muscular impact in viewing it and driving over it.
We don’t think the new bridge should look like the old one, perhaps some features of the old can be blended into the new structure. To do that is a challenge to the engineers and experts who design bridges. We know some of them welcome the challenge. What must be kept in mind is the cost. If there would be no restraints on the cost, designers could come up with all kinds of attractive bridges that would stand alone in style.
There is agreement that the new bridge must have the potential to become a four-lane structure later, be accessible to pedestrians and bikers, blend in somehow with historical Downtown Washington and have an identity that is extraordinary. Very careful consideration must be given to its name. We hear and agree with people who say they don’t want it named after a politician. There might be an exception to that if a politician did something in providing funds to build it to deserve recognition. The Hermann bridge was named after Sen. Kit Bond, who somehow found the federal dollars to build the bridge.
The town is named after our first president, George Washington, which everybody should know by now. We did recognize him with the bust at the Fourth Street entrance to city hall. Washington is the only place where corn cob pipes still are made. It would look tacky to incorporate a large corn cob pipe on the structure. The town once was famous for its zither making, but that faded. Also, millions of shoes once were made here, but the image of that product wouldn’t pass the appropriate test. Now Washington is a highly diversified industrial city, but no manufactured item stands alone as to make Washington “the home” of that product even though it is. Even if we had such a product, we probably would be in tackyland trying to attach it to the bridge.
The use of weathering steel has been discussed. With a rust-brown color, it would not be attractive. In fact, it could be plain ugly!
The discussions will continue. All kinds of crazy ideas can come to mind to make it stand out. One is to have zipline from the pedestrian walkway to Rennick Riverfront Park. It probably would be so popular reservations would have to be taken. Equipment and manpower could be financed by charging zipliners. Another idea would be to attach a “Tower of Washington” to the bridge with some height to give a good view of the river and city.
All kinds of things can be done with lighting to enhance the appearance. How about a large lighted star that would move from one side to the other side of the river above the bridge, especially at night? All these ideas could be called silly, but it gets one to thinking about unusual enhancements.
If anyone has any ideas, submit them to The Missourian and we will pass them along to the committee as letters to the editor.