The bridge is historic, but so what… why restore it? If the thrill you get from rumbling across that old bridge isn’t enough, here’s some more food for thought. The Oregon Department of Transportation has a really good collection of benefits listed in their Historic Bridge Preservation Plan. I’ll summarize some of the best parts below.
A historic bridge speaks to the vivid memories that are formed by bridges as they create a sense of passage, open up wide vistas, and frame views. Their styles, textures, materials and overall structure enrich and enliven their surroundings. Their communities would be less interesting and less attractive without them. Historic bridges with their structure and angles promote a sense of rhythm, and decorative metalwork is more aesthetically pleasing than a monolithic concrete slab bridge with a solid concrete guardrail.
Preservation is not a luxury that is considered once all other needs have been satisfied.
Towns and cities that protect their historic areas attract more visitors, and those people stay longer and spend more. Preservation is not a luxury that is considered once all other needs have been satisfied. Studies have consistently shown protecting and reusing historic places makes good financial sense. These structures represent a significant public investment, and preservation is typically less expensive to the public than replacement.
Historic places tell a community where it came from – what previous generations achieved, what they hoped to be. By protecting these reminders of the past, preservation builds on the present and looks to the future, because it saves valuable resources and recalls a community’s goals and dreams.