Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Randy's Ramble "Old Metcalf Place Bridge" - July 20, 2010 LifeTrek.Eroe.com

Randy Rasa and I had a nice ride this afternoon in southern Johnson County.  Randy, as I have said in earlier posts, always has some interesting sites to visit and today was no exception.  The picture to the left is of our bikes on the Old Metcalf Bridge that crosses over the Blue River approximately at 171st on old Metcalf Road which was also old US 69, which is now a divided highway.

There is a website called the Historic Bridges of the United States and the Old Metcalf Bridge is detailed there with pictures and facts.  I have taken some of the facts about the bridge and put them below.

Five-span pony truss bridge over Blue River on Metcalf Place (formerly US 69) Location Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas  
Closed to all traffic 
Built 1929 
Warren pony truss 
Length of largest span: 69.9 ft. Total length: 358.8 ft. Deck width: 20.0 ft. 
Approximate latitude, longitude 
+38.81296, -94.67094  or 38°48'47" N, 94°40'15" W 
Inspection (as of 02/2008)
Deck condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9) Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9) Appraisal: Structurally deficient Sufficiency rating: 2.0 (out of 100)

Of course Randy did not tell me about the serious substructure condition rating (a subject that I will have to address with him at a later time) but it seemed fine except that we had to climb over barriers to get on and off the bridge.  The history of the bridge does also not say when exactly it was closed but it did have a very unique design.
The weather was extremely hot and humid and there have been heat warning out for almost a week now.  Temperatures were in the 90's and the heat index was over a 100.  From the bridge we went and re-loaded water and my ice pack (see previous post) at a convenience store in Stilwell, Kansas.

But before we got off the bridge we had to climb over barriers and get through some fairly thick brush which at the time I was hoping did not have poison ivy or oak.  Thankfully it did not on this cycle-cross adventure.  Picture taken by Randy.

While I had biked through Stilwell many times I had not looked up any thing about the city but did find this from Wikipedia.  Stilwell, Kansas is a small unincorporated community in Johnson County in the U.S. state of Kansas.  It is a southern outlying suburb of Kansas City.

Stilwell was named for a conductor on the first Missouri Pacific train to arrive in the community in the 1870s.  Stilwell is mostly farmland, but in recent years has spawned suburban neighborhoods. The Aubry Township Board has stated that by 2010, most of Stilwell will be urban. Note: not true as it is still mostly rural so not sure when that prediction was made by the township board!

Stilwell has low land value and some farms are abandoned; however, in recent years, the large population growth of Overland Park, Kansas has increased the demand for new neighborhoods, raising the land value in some areas to high amounts.

After a nice break inside the convenience store with air conditioning we headed further down Metcalf to 223rd Street and took that over to Woodland Street and then into Spring Hill, Kansas (see previous blog posts).  We had a pretty strong southwest wind but it actually felt great because it helped keep us cool.  After another convenience store stop for more water and ice we discovered that suddenly dark clouds were appearing to the north.  We spoke with a gentleman who was filling up his car at the gas pump when we were getting back on our bikes and he said that there were strong storms coming in so we hightailed back over to Woodland Street and then over to S. Ridgeview Street.  Randy turned off at 183rd Street after offering me shelter at his house and then a head light but I thought I could beat the storm out.  I turned on my red tail light and also a new high intensity red light on the back of my helmet.

I had a nice tail wind and the temperatures were dropping but after going at speeds of 30 - 35 KM per hour and working my way over to S. Lackman Street and then to S. Pflumm Street I heard a crack of lightening and then high winds as I approached the Johnson County Executive Airport.  I knew this would be a good stop to check weather and see if I could wait it out.  I learned from folks inside that the storm was pretty widespread so luckily my wife, Carol, was home and came to pick me up.  We had strong rain and wind driving back to the house and it rained into the evening.  I found out from the news that there was 2-3 inches of rain across the Kansas City metropolitan area with wind gusts up to 70mph.  I had checked the weather radar before I went out for the ride and it looked like no rain and only patches of storms much further to the north.  These summer storms can form fast, however, and this one did just that.

I also found out that a several passengers were injured on United Air Lines Flight 967 from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport when they encountered severe turbulence over Kansas City.  The Boeing 777 was diverted to Denver International Airport and landed safely and 30 passengers were injured and transported to local hospitals.  Several articles here:

Passenger describes 'free fall' onboard United jet
Experts trying to determine what caused turbulence
Passengers, drinks tumble in harrowing flight
NTSB investigating diverted Dulles plane
30 Injured on United Airlines Flight in Severe Turbulence
United flight hits heavy turbulence; 30 injured
Turbulence injures several passengers on LAX-bound flight
United Airlines Flight 967 hit severe turbulence over the Midwest, the FAA says - CNN

All in all a very nice ride on a very hot day.  I went 65.45 KM from my house and average overall speed was just over 23 KM per hour.  The map of the ride can be viewed from my Garmin.  For more on Randy's blog go to DirtBum where you will find some very interesting stories on his bicycle rides, which are mostly on back roads and gravel in Eastern Kansas.

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