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Choate Bridge, Ipswich.jpgMassDOT supports the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) landmark designation ceremonies in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Choate Bridge in Ipswich, on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

In 2008, ASCE designated the Choate Bridge in Ipswich as a national Civil Engineering Historic Landmark. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as of 1972.  Built in 1764 and predating the Revolutionary War, the Choate Bridge is the earliest documented masonry arch extant bridge and the oldest functioning bridge in Massachusetts. The structure is also the the second oldest documented masonry arch bridge in the United States.

The bridge has been in continuous use since its original construction in 1764 and currently carries heavy commercial truck traffic and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day. Except for the widening completed in 1838, the structure remains nearly unaltered since its original construction. Due to this, the Chaote Bridge serves as a complete example of mid-eighteenth century bridge technology, particularly the use of random-coursed ashlar, and dry stone wall construction. The bridge also provides a unique comparison of eighteenth and nineteenth century bridge technology, such as the difference in stone sizes due to the development of stone-cutting techniques.

During its construction, Builder Colonel John Choate was reported to have been unsure of his own work. In fear of wrath from angry citizens in the event that the bridge collapsed after the falsework was removed, he positioned a horse to take him north to Canada. As it turned out, the townspeople were very pleased and chose to name the bridge in his honor. Centuries later, the Choate Bridge still stands.

For information about the event, visit http://celebrateInfrastructure.Org.

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