Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marion Street Bridge

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The next bridge in the ongoing project is Salem's Marion Street Bridge. Built in 1952, it's somewhat more attractive than the Center St. Bridge, but it's still not what I'd call a visual treat. The bridge supports have a sort of pointed arch motif to them, similar to Portland's St. Johns Bridge, but in this case I'm not really sure why. Maybe the designer was just a big fan of pointed arches.

One downside of being built in 1952 is that the pedestrian walkway (there's only one, on the north side of the bridge) is pretty narrow. I tend to assume that midcentury bridges are like this because designers figured nobody would walk anywhere in the future. I can't prove that, but it sounds kind of reasonable to me. Anyway, it's narrower than the Center St. bridge walkway, and walking across is just as noisy due to the heavy traffic. I did a loop starting on the Salem side, across the Center St. and back across the Marion St., and I'd have to say the only reason to do this (other than as your daily commute, I suppose) would be purely for the sake of completeness. I'd be very surprised if this pops up on anyone's list of Top 10 Things To Do In Salem.

Just to verify that, I started searching the net for Top 10 lists about Salem. Here's one, which doesn't mention anything about bridges. It does mention going to Portland as #7 on the list, which seems like cheating to me. It also mentions the A.C. Gilbert museum, which sits next to the west end of the Marion St. Bridge. So you'll at least see the bridge, and maybe even park next to a pointed arch. So there's that. Another Top 10 list is less helpful; it's either auto-generated, or was compiled by someone who'd never been to Salem. As far as it's concerned your options are either guided walking tours (lots of them), or river rafting. And not all of the options are even in Oregon. So you can probably ignore that list. A top 5 list actually mentions a lot more than five things to do. It even shows a covered bridge, and mentions the A.C. Gilbert museum. But again, nothing about Willamette River bridges. So apparently this is our little secret for the time being, o Gentle Reader(s). (We really need to come up with cooler secrets, quite honestly.)


Samuel Klein said...

They came up with 10 fun things to do in Salem? WhenI was growing up there, there were only six! ONWARD TO THE FUTURE!

Samuel Klein said...

I just thought of another bit of bridge history you'll find interesting.

You no doubt noticed that the bridge piers are asymmetrical … those pointed arches you had on the right being noticeably skinnier than those on the left. This is because it's a hybrid thing.

When the Marion was finally shut down after the Center was built for long-needed upgrade, it was decided to widen the bridge to its current number of lanes from a mere two. The bridge was quite narrow. To expand the bridge, new piers weren't constructed … the old ones were widened, then the new bridge put on top of that.

The narrow side of the bridge piers ... that's what's left of the original Marion Street Bridge.