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USPS Spectacular Bridges Stamps Highlight Construction

Tue January 16, 2024 - National Edition #2
Ruksana Hussain - CEG Correspondent


Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service
   (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service ) The Arrigoni Bridge connecting Middletown and Portland, Conn., is a 1,200-ft.-long steel through arch bridge that carries Routes 66 and 17 across the Connecticut River. At $3.5 million, it was the most expensive bridge in the state when it opened in 1938. 
   (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service 
) The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a 3,000-ft.-long, S-curved bridge — a $22 million project, which opened late in 2008. It is one of the longest pedestrian bridges ever to be built, allowing travel over the Missouri River. Part of former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey’s “Back-to-the-River” efforts, it connects the Port of Omaha’s Miller Landing to One Renaissance Center in Council Bluffs.
   (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service ) The Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma City is inspired by Oklahoma’s state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and soars over Interstate 40. This is a 380-ft.-long pedestrian bridge with a 197-ft.-tall sculpture. The bridge opened in 2012, connects upper and lower Scissortail Park, and cost $5.8 million.
   (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service ) The $1 billion basket-handle twin arch Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge connecting Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Ill., began construction in 2017 and opened to traffic in 2021. The gateway to the Quad Cities region on the I-74 corridor spans 800 ft., is 6 mi. long and provides four lanes in each direction to address growing traffic concerns in the area.
   (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service )

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has shown a spotlight on the architectural design and engineering feats of some of the spectacular bridges that have been connecting people and places across the country for years with the release of four new Presorted First-Class Mail stamps. Ethel Kessler, an art director of USPS, used existing photographs to design these stamps, which include the multispan steel through arch Arrigoni Bridge connecting the Connecticut municipalities of Middletown and Portland; the S-curved cable-stayed Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.; the steel truss Skydance Bridge topped by a public sculpture in Oklahoma City; and the basket-handle twin arch Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge connecting Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Ill. The bridges were completed between 1938 and 2022 and chosen for being important landmarks in their communities.

"We're always looking for imaging or sets of stamps that can work. My first job was for an architectural firm and so I am not just sensitive to but enamoured with construction architecture and grand structures," said Kessler. "Nobody gave me the assignment of doing bridges, it's been something that I've had in my ‘way back burner folder' for a long time and then it seemed like there was a need for this calibre of stamp."

Kessler, who has worked at the USPS for more than 25 years, presented 10 different images from a range of places in the country, each bridge offering something unique. Four were finalized. Presorted First-Class Mail stamps are used for bulk business mailers and must be used with a permit. They're only sold in self-adhesive rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.

Arrigoni Bridge

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The Arrigoni Bridge connecting Middletown and Portland, Conn., (photographed by Joe Gowac) also is known as the Portland Bridge. The 1,200-ft.-long steel through arch bridge carries Routes 66 and 17 across the Connecticut River. It features two 600-ft. steel arches which have the longest span length of any bridge in that state. At $3.5 million, it was the most expensive bridge in the state when it opened in 1938.

The bridge underwent safety and pedestrian improvements from 2020 to 2022, which involved new sidewalks; improvements to bridge approaches on both sides; replacing of the bridge deck and bearings; painting; steel and concrete repairs; and other structural upgrades to increase the bridge's lifespan.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (photographed by Kyle Henderson) is a 3,000-ft.-long, S-curved bridge — a $22 million project which opened late in 2008. It is one of the longest pedestrian bridges ever to be built, allowing travel over the Missouri River. Part of former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey's "Back-to-the-River" efforts, it connects the Port of Omaha's Miller Landing to One Renaissance Center in Council Bluffs.

The cable-stayed bridge looks like giant sails, standing at 52 ft. above the river and due to the 200-ft.-high single-tower pylons on either side. Dramatic lighting only adds to the visual appeal. The bridge deck has an unobstructed width of 15-ft. over the entire length of the bridge.

Skydance Bridge

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma City (photographed by Christina Woods) is inspired by Oklahoma's state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and soars over Interstate 40. This is a 380-ft.-long pedestrian bridge with a 197-ft.-tall sculpture.

The bridge opened in 2012, connects upper and lower Scissortail Park, and cost $5.8 million. It was named as one of the nation's top 50 public arts projects by The Oklahoman at that time. The design was the winning entry in a national competition hosted by Oklahoma City. It has a steel hybrid structure with a vertically cantilevered tri-cord truss and simple span truss bridge as well as durable and recycled construction materials.

"It is an honor for Oklahoma City, and Skydance Bridge, to be represented on this historic U.S. postage stamp commemorating this iconic landmark," said Shannon Cox, Public Works Public Information Officer.

Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The $1 billion basket-handle twin arch Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge connecting Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Ill., (photographed by Miller + Miller Architectural Photography) began construction in 2017 and opened to traffic in 2021.

The gateway to the Quad Cities region on the I-74 corridor spans 800 ft., 6 mi. long and provides four lanes in each direction to address growing traffic concerns in the area. The final bridge design was completed by leading bridge engineering firm Modjeski and Masters. The westbound span was announced a winner in the major span category at the 2022 Prize Bridge Awards by The American Institute of Steel Construction and the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

Kessler found the images she worked with and works on Adobe Creative Suite for design. She has, in fact, maintained a folder titled Bridges with samples in it for at least 15 years now.

"One of the first stamps that I worked on was for Frederick Law Olmstead who is the father of landscape architecture and designed Central Park. I had worked for an architectural firm and so I had the sensitivity to that subject and before I started doing stamps, I had a design firm that did work for a lot of architecture construction and landscape architecture firms so it's right up my alley."

Four art directors meet monthly with the staff of the stamp staff division (in addition to others involved in visual research, text writing, photo assistance, etc.) presenting the different projects they're working on. The decision on the number of designs to be released happens then. Suggestions from the public are considered but they are advised to do so at least three years out because it takes quite a while to get through legal clearance for many things especially stamps featuring people but sometimes stamps featuring previously used art.

A significant legal process follows in order to get images and rights to use those images. The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), appointed by the Postmaster General, approves any ideas coming in from the public or the art directors. They determine subjects based on specific stamp selection criteria. Names of current members of the advisory committee as well as detailed information on the process is available on the USPS website.

For more information, visit usps.com/. CEG




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