Triumphant Arches

by Harry Goldstein, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 7, Pg. 48-49

Document Type: Feature article


This year's Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award of Merit goes to the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Tennessee, the first precast concrete segmental arch bridge in the country. Completed in early 1994, the $11 million Natchez Trace Bridge impressed the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement jury with its aesthetically striking double-arch design, which shows exceptional sensitivity to the historical context of the site. One of the most challenging engineering projects along the Natchez Trace Parkway, the bridge towers approximately 155 ft above Tennessee Route 96 near Franklin, Tenn. (CE November 1993). Centuries before the arrival of Europeans, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes hacked a 450 mi swath through the wilderness between Natchez, Miss. and Nashville, Tenn. In the late 18th century, farmers who floated their crops down the Mississisppi River to Natchez or to New Orleans used the trail to return home, since the flatboats used for the downstream journey were sold as lumber. The boatmen eventually trampled the rugged trail into a clearly marked path, creating an important wilderness road. But when steamboat travel became prominent in the late 1800s, the Trace lost much of its appeal as a commercial route. Today, this historic thoroughfare has been reclaimed as a vital transportation artery, transformed from a wilderness road into the scenic two-lane Natchez Trace Parkway. Under construction since the late 1930s, the parkway, which closely follows the alignment of the original trail, is owned and maintained by the National Park Service. The Eastern Federal Lands highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was responsible for the design and construction of the parkway.

Subject Headings: Federal government | Bridge engineering | Arch bridges | Ecosystems | Concrete bridges | Precast concrete | Infrastructure construction

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