State Rt 23 Overpass, Pickaway County Ohio (north of Circleville)

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Fri Oct 14 06:48:18 EDT 2016


A few miles north of Circleville, Ohio, at a place called Ritts Crossing,
the N&W had (and still has) an overpass over “old” US Rt. 23.  “New” 23, a
four lane 1950’s-era bypass of Circleville, separates from it’s original
alignment at this location, staying to the east of the railroad.

The N&W crosses the highway at a very shallow angle on a unique hybrid
four-span structure.  The first span is a concrete slab affair which -  due
the low angle of the crossing - is effectively a tunnel, followed by a
three span open deck through-girder bridge.  The tunnel’s east wall
 doubles as a pier / abutment for the steel spans. The southbound lane of
US 23 passes through this tunnel with the pier separating it from the
northbound lane which passes under the first of the three girder spans. The
Scioto Valley Traction interurban line, which ran alongside the west side
of the N&W north of this point, descended to US 23’s level and crossed
under the second girder span to follow 23 into Circleville.  The function
of the third and final span is unclear to me.  The intermediate steel spans
are supported by free-standing steel columns.

The tunnel component has always puzzled me, and I’m looking for assistance
in working it out. To my eye, the steel section had a long enough span to
accommodate the road and interurban traffic.

Here’s what I know about this bridge to help set some boundaries.

   - A 1914 SVT right of way provided by Alex Campbell dates the Agreement
   for crossing as 1901.  The survey shows the N&W as a single track
   railroad.  I’m assuming it was drawn prior to the 1911 double tracking, and
   not revised (this is a bit of a puzzle since the only date anywhere on this
   document is 1914). A snip from this survey is attached for reference.
   - Alex Schust’s book “Norfolk and Western in Ohio” lists a three span,
   half-through plate bridge being constructed in 1902 (Bridge 1137A).
   - An ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) photo dated 1933 shows the
   bridge in the configuration that it is still in today.  I’ve provided a
   link to that photo (bonus - solid coal train is passing over it)
   - The north abutment has 1948 cast into it.

My working assumptions follow.

   - Given the completion of the SVT is 1904 and the crossing agreement
   date noted above, my working assumption is that the coming of the
   interurban led to the roadway / railroad separation.
   - Masonry for this single track bridge was built to accommodate future
   double tracking (this was done, very cleverly, for the Kinnikinnick
   - A parallel span for the second track added 1910-11
   - Concrete slab span/tunnel added between 1911 and 1933????
   - ODOT may have taken the 1933 photo to document a roadway improvement
   that included the addition of the concrete span.
   - N&W rebuilt or strengthened the north abutment in 1948, possibly
   encasing an existing masonry abutment.  A similar improvement was executed
   on the Kinnikinnick bridge at some point (abutment and pier footings were
   originally stone, are now concrete).

Any comments on the assumptions above are welcome, especially when and why
was this tunnel put in (and why this particular construction method was
chosen).  I’ve so far not located anything specific to this bridge in the
archives.  I suspect that the ROW map is available that might provide
additional clues, but I haven’t located it on the site yet (pointer


*1933 ODOT photo.* Looking north
Related photo looking south, N&W bridge is beyond the C&O (1938, context
photo only)

*Attached photos*
1914 SVT survey
2015 site photos (mine)

Matt Goodman

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