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Visiting Austin Bridges and Architecture

By Rachel Rosen

Austin, Texas and its surroundings are home to several famous or important bridges, some of which date back to the late 19th century. Some are tourist draws, while others span quiet streams. Fans of bridge architecture, history and design will enjoy experiencing these destinations in the Austin area.

Congress Avenue Bridge

Crossing Lady Bird Lake in central Austin, Congress Avenue bridge offers fantastic views of downtown Austin. As an interesting bonus, it is residence to the biggest urban bat colony in the United States. From mid-March through November, tourists and locals alike visit the bridge at dusk to marvel at the appearance of the bats leaving for their evening meal. One way to view both the bridge and its inhabitants is to book a sunset cruise.

Percy V. Pennybacker Bridge

The Pennybacker Bridge opened in 1982. The bridge crosses Lake Austin to attach the North and South Loop 360 Highway and is often called the 360 Bridge. The arched weathering steel bridge carries automobiles, bikes and people on foot. The bridge spans a lake, made when the Colorado River was dammed. A public landing for boats is located under the southerly side of the bridge, making it a favored spot for land and water sport enthusiasts. Built in the Through Arch style, it has got a weathered patina which blends in well with the encircling natural setting. No part of the bridge touches the water, which lies 100 feet below the bridge deck. The bridge must be high enough to allow ships to pass beneath the bridge. Visitors can enjoy the view from the bridge, and then enjoy a canoe trip on Lake Austin.

Faust Street Bridge

Located in New Braunfels, the Faust Street Bridge is thought of as one of the most important historic bridges in both Austin and Texas. Built in 1887, it's an example of one of the most complex, longest and earliest built of the truss-type Austin bridges. Spanning the Guadalupe River, the bridge is just open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic since being ruined by fire in 1978. The bridge is situated in the centre of the city and lets visitors to bike or slow stroll over the Guadalupe River. Constructed out of wrought iron, the bridge is now on the National Historic Register. Its marker notes that this was the 1st permanent "toll-free" structures to cross a major waterway. Bridge enthusiasts find the bridge to be one of the best examples Whipple Truss engineering. Only temporarily popular, it is hard to find existing examples of the design. The unique construction is a testimonial to its longevity and historical value.

Bryant Station Bridge

Bryant Station Bridge is one of two surviving "camelback through truss" bridges in Austin. Found in Milam County, this bridge crosses the Little River close to the old Bryant Station trading post. While no longer in use, the Bryant Station Bridge is one of the Austin bridges worth seeing. Built in 1909, it was employed to carry commodities across the river. By the mid-1930s, the city of Bryant Station was almost non-existent and is at present a ghost town. The straightforward construction of the bridge is a reflection of the time it was built and gives visitors an instant feel for the age. It can be hard to find since it is just off a dusty road, nevertheless it is worth the trip. The only remnants of Bryant Station are the graveyard, the bridge and the Bryant Station city marker. While closed to all traffic, visitors can explore the remains to get a glance of life within a 1800's century trading post.

Regency Bridge and Beveridge Bridge

Located in San Saba, the Regency Bridge is the sole suspension bridge in Texas that is open to automobile traffic. Built in 1939, it is a single lane bridge with a wood deck. While traffic is light, visitors need to be aware that it's in use. The Regency and Beveridge Bridges are on the National Historic Register. Locals endorse that you picnic by the bridge, but there's no official picnic area. The Beveridge Bridge is an iron suspension bridge and is down brook from the Regency. It was open to automobile traffic up until 2004 and is now open for pedestrians to walk across and take in picturesque views of the San Saba River and the encompassing country. The bridges offer unobstructed view and pleasant winds from the city to a beautiful park.

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Ditulis oleh: Faisal Reza Siregar - Friday, September 20, 2013

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