An entire bridge went missing overnight in Akron, Ohio

Originally published at: An entire bridge went missing overnight in Akron, Ohio | Boing Boing


If you know the right people at Colonial Williamsburg, you can go view their stockpile of old wrought iron – the real stuff, from a bloomery and with all the siliceous slag inclusion and fibrous strands of iron – which they got from a bridge that was torn down in the 70s. They have rather a lot of it, enough to last them a couple of centuries, but when asked what will they do then, “We have our eyes on a number of surviving bridges from that era,” is one answer you may receive.

Sure, this polymer bridge is probably sitting over someone’s back yard carp pond, but keep an eye on those bridge-salvaging academic historical re-enactors when they go sniffing around your local ancient bridges.


The security team’s attention span needs extending - they didn’t really seem to be fully across it.


The guy said he “has a bridge to sell ya”.


It was a bridge too far.


And perhaps unknown to the thieves, the bridge parts, made of a polymer material, are worthless.

Maybe they just really needed a bridge. (Now I’m imagining some Hollywood-style caper where stealing the bridge was merely one step in a convoluted set of actions, that involved crossing a very specifically sized gap, in order to pull off the big score.)


Is the bridge really made of plastic, or is that something the authorities just said to try to get the thieves to abandon it?

Assuming it is true, how well does a plastic bridge hold up in summer heat? Being somewhat ignorant on the topic of plastic bridges, I imagine it sagging in hot weather.

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Plastic anvils for forging plastic horse shoes?


In the river bottom of the Cuyahoga, there is an iron span bridge from around 1920. After the NPS acquired the land around it, they removed it and renovated it, then put it back. I remember the road bed used to be ‘paved’ with wood blocks, like the ends of 4x4s, embedded in asphalt – or maybe that was just after years of resurfacing. Very cool.


It’s fine. They make decks and playground equipment out of this synthetic stuff now too. It is a ridged polymer.


maybe it has just been moved due to an innocent mistake


Bailey bridges are cool. If they can build one out of polymer, it’s pretty good stuff.

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I read this article, watched the vid, then meditated for 12 minutes, and here’s what I came up with: can’t they make catalytic converters out of polymer metal?

If no and the rhodium, palladium and platinum of catalytic converters are essential, well, I’m sorry for those who needed to cross the chasm, but I lowered my BP 4 points!

Meanwhile, the 58 foot-long bridge was really only sitting in a field, not “bridging” anything at the time. In other words, it was idle, not fulfilling its true purpose. Who knows, it might have tried to get on WELFARE next. (Cue: Bernard Herrmann’s shower scene music from Psycho.) It could be that bridge is getting what it deserved…

Finally: if you see a 58 foot bridge for sale on Craigslist in Cleveland, I’d be suspicious.

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I’m not saying it was aliens, but even aliens can’t resist with scrap metal prices so high.

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Just one last Big Heist, team of specialist criminals! We can do it, then retire in Tahiti or Calcutta or wherever. Greenland, which will be very pleasant in (looks at watch) 7 years or so.

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I can’t vouch for the bridge in question, but there are other plastic bridges in the area and if any city is likely to have good plastic bridges, Akron would be near the top of my list. The city has been loaded with polymer chemists for ages because of the tire companies. But in truth a lot of the the manufacturers are in Pennsylvania. It closely resembles a common design of standard FRP bridges. It you want more information than is reasonable the USDA has you covered.

If you find yourself in the area, Cleveland has one of the last remaining woodblock streets in the country, Hessler Court.

The metals are needed for their unique chemical properties. If they could get away with plastics instead of high cost precious metals they would make the switch very quickly.

This whole thing adds to my running gag of northeast Ohio being a post-Soviet republic, but at least the Russian bridge thieves had the decency to steal a metal bridge. 'Metal thieves' steal rail bridge in Russia - BBC News


Stories like this reminds me of cases in Philly when homes are robbed of wrought iron fencing and supports overnight. The thieves are so quiet that no one in the houses hears them. Residents are shocked to find eight-foot 2x4s holding up their front porch roofs the next day.

That level of stealth always reminds me of this Louis Ramey routine:

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Someone in Akron suddenly has a really nice polymer deck.

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Maybe they will try to fence it, by turning it into a fence.