Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs
Backstory and Context
Between 1920-1930s, the New Mexican highway department wanted to connect principle communities of the state together by building bridges between them. The department's engineers at the time utilized the timber beam bridge design were inexpensive and easy to maintain; they were also perfect for crossing New Mexico's arroyos and waterways. Even though these bridges were relevantly small in size, the timber team bridge design easily allowed frequent crossings highways made over the Rio Grande river. The engineers were confident because they knew that the upstream dams and irrigation district canals regulated the water flow and limited flooding and the waterway overflowing its channel.
In 1933, the New Mexican highway department constructed the Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs. Located a mile away from Radium Springs, a town located in Dona Ana, New Mexico. The bridge is a 19-span timber beam span bridge and crosses the crosses the Rio Grande river as it flows in a now well-defined channel some forty miles below Elephant Butte and Caballo Dams. Lined by metal guardrails, the bridge's roadway is 475 ft. long and 29 ft. wide; the roadway is flanked with timber felloes. The bridge's deck consists 2"x4" ft. timbers with an asphalt surface and rests on steel stringers. The engineers and workers also made altercations and improvements to bridge to meet both of new regulations for bridges and the increasing size and weight of automobiles by adding piles and steel bulkheads to each bent and an additional steel I-beam in the bridge's substructure. These altercations not only widen the bridge, but also ensured its safety and efficiency.
In 1977, the bridge was listed in the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. In 1987, in a bridge survey, the bridge was named as one of the highest rated bridges in the U.S. The bridge survey gave the Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs a high rating because of it is on the best examples of the timber and beam bridge sub-type since it embodied the design, materials, and methods of construction associated with the design. In 1997, the Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it is a well-preserved example of the timber beam bridge design and its significant association with New Mexico's New Mexico's highway transportation. In 2003, the Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs became a pedestrian bridge when a replacement bridge was built.
Kammer, David. "Rio Grande Bridge at Radium Springs," National Register for Historic Places. 1997. Accessed May 20th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/97000734_text.
Radium Springs Rio Grande Bridge, Bridgehunter.com. n.d. Accessed May 20th 2020. https://bridgehunter.com/nm/dona-ana/bh48398/.