National Boards > Bridges

Fords and Low Water Bridges

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Looking around on Bridgehunter the other day, I had found a low water bridge right here in Union County. I had no idea we had any of these. Of course, there are more well known ones, like the Potomac Low Water Bridge.

Looking around the immediate vicinity on google maps, I found a few more: (I'm surprised at the weight limit on this one)

However, despite lots of searching on GSV/Google Maps, I have yet to come across a water ford, which leads me to believe they're pretty rare here in the US. Looking for some via simple google search, I found a ford/low water bridge design guide, which is an interesting look at.

Link is dead so here's a Google Drive copy:

Building one in the first place seems like tempting fate, but that's just me.

Very interesting! Thanks for the link to the Iowa manual.

I used to cross a vented ford in Arizona several times every year on 115th Avenue (now renamed as Avondale Boulevard) where it met the Gila River right by the Phoenix International Raceway (now called ISM Raceway). Back in the late 1970s, they had to cancel a scheduled IndyCar race because the river had flooded and the track was totally inaccessible. By the mid 1980s, the opening of a couple of bridges downstream from PIR had eliminated the problem of track access when the river was flowing, but it took until the late 1990s for a bridge to be built on 115th Avenue itself. It was always a strange feeling to cross that ford and look upstream and see the confluence of the Salt & Gila Rivers just a few feet away. Made one glad that AZ is so dry most of the time!

Some other discussion on this...

I know Virginia has a few scattered around on signed secondary routes...

Max Rockatansky:
Ran into a ford of a creek in Point Reyes National Seashore last year on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.  The water was way higher on the way in, I had to check to make sure it was shallow enough to cross through:

IMG_4487 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

In general in the western states at-grade fords are fairly common in very rural areas, especially in deserts with washes.  Panoche Road west of where I'm at in the Diablo Range has a particularly nasty at-grade ford which is pretty much impossible to cross in wet weather.


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