Father and Son Bridges over the Raritan River in New Jersey
Connecting Edison on the North bank and New Brunswick on the South bank, two bridges tower over a river crossing that was favored by the Raritan Lenape native Americans.One bridge, a concrete arch structure built in 1929, was not enough.By the time it had been named the Morris Goodkind Bridge after its designer, traffic was so congested that a second bridge was needed.Up stepped Goodkind’s son Donald to design a parallel span, which opened in 1974.In 2004, the new bridge was re-named the Donald Goodkind Bridge.Where else in the world are you going to find that?
Donald was criticized for his “ordinary” concrete and steel design, but according to his family, he carefully aligned a narrow structure that would permit his father’s work to be seen as clearly as possible from the West and that would be mostly hidden from the East.The visual preeminence of the original bridge is evidence that Donald tried to pay homage to the 1929 span and avoid any one-upmanship.His father hadwon a medal for excellence in bridge design from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the 1929 bridge.Morris then became chief bridge engineer for the NJ highway department. The Pulaski Skyway is another of the spans built under his leadership.
150 years before the construction of the first bridge, George Washington celebrated the fourth of July, 1778 while encamped at the river.In 1834, the opening of the Delaware and Raritan Canal heightened the economic importance of New Brunswick and allowed central NJ access to new markets.
Both bridges have a tragic chapter in American pop culture.Eddie and the Cruisers star, Eddie Wilson was said to have drowned in the Raritan River when his ’57 Chevy Bel Air crashed through the concrete side rail of the bridge.In the 11th episode of The Sopranos (spoiler alert) Detective Vin Makazian commits suicide by jumping off of the Donald Goodkind Bridge.
If things keep up, commuters will be back to using one bridge with two lane of traffic in each direction.The nearly 100 year old span is in deplorable shape.Not only are the plaques commemorating Goodkind and the Lenape covered in graffiti, but the formed concrete rails are so deteriorated that a vespa could crash through parts of them at 15 mph!That’s not a nice way to treat such a majestic Art Deco span, is it?
Peter Evans NJ New Brunswick May 11, 2022 Bridges Engineering People
Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Peter Evans May 11, 2022
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