Pony trusses

Pony trusses on the Dixie Highway
Canon PowerShot S95

This bridge is a sad case. Due to deterioration, it closed to all traffic in 2015.

This road was part of the 1914 Dixie Highway and, later, State Road 37, southeast of Martinsville, Indiana. This bridge came along in 1925. In the 1970s, SR 37 was upgraded to a four-lane expressway between Indianapolis and Bloomington, leaving lots of curvy old alignments behind. The new SR 37 is only about 500 feet northwest of this spot. I explored them all in a 2007 road trip; read all about it here.

This bridge is on a short old alignment that provided access to some county roads on the north edge of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. While it was still open it got only about 500 vehicles a day. So it’s not surprising that Morgan County went lax on this bridge’s maintenance.

And now it’s closed to traffic. It’s all overgrown now; it looks like it’s been abandoned for decades. See it here.

It’s not clear what will happen to this bridge. SR 37 is in the process of being improved to become Interstate 69. Many of the nearby old alignments were or will be used as frontage roads, and have received improvements to support that. But project maps show frontage-road construction ending at the southern end of this old alignment. Will this bridge be left in place? Will it be removed?

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6 responses to “single frame: Endangered pony-truss bridge on the Dixie Highway”

  1. J P Avatar

    Wow, you have been doing this long enough that new alignments are becoming old alignments. Making places like this old old alignments?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yep. That is exactly what is happening. It’s fascinating to experience.

  2. retrocrank Avatar

    I still like these posts the best, although J P’s comment leaves me wondering if we aren’t facilitating individual automotive use/congestion/environmental damage by continuing to add square footage of asphalt to the planet’s surface. Better might be to resurrect the interurban/streetcar systems that used to lace the midwest – they ran on overhead electric, and have a fixed course encouraged long-term investments. I look at these old bridges and road segments and can’t help but think we’ve missed an opportunity…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Over on another blog I follow there was just a post about the death of the interurbans and electric streetcars. Here: https://intransporthistory.home.blog/2020/01/08/interurbans-part-2/

      There were economic forces at work that spelled these services’ end. In Indianapolis we are trying again sort of with electric buses on rapid-transit lines and it’s gaining some traction.

      I do think we’re building highways that may go underused in the next 50 years as we shift away from the internal combustion engine.

      1. retrocrank Avatar

        Thanks for the link – I scanned through, it looks very interesting, will read in detail later.
        I believe “politics” also needs to be included in the forces that got rid of the electric light rail systems. A long time ago I used to be steeped in the Ohio history of narrow gage steam and electric interurbans (drove around the state, stalking and taking pictures of ROWs not unlike you with old roads in IN); It always seemed to me that ROWs created by shaky methods doomed long term supportability, Cheap fuel and automobiles, and an extension of the good roads movement beyond its original intent of giving farms access to markets were certainly economic drivers. And then there are the oil/rubber/Detroit conspirists….

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Yuuuup. I’m familiar with all of those drivers.

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