The Hot Cake Channel Bridge at milepost 33.9 crosses another major channel in the Copper River Delta as the mainline crosses from the west to the east bank out of Cordova. It’s the westernmost major channel of the river through the area.
The bridge consisted of (west to east) a 200ft Pratt truss, a ~150ft trestle across a sand bar between the channels, and then two more 200ft Pratt trusses, all with arched upper chords. The steel spans were built by the American Bridge Company, shipped north, and erected by CR&NW construction crews. Given a base of compacted sand and gravel that resisted pile drivers or water jets, caissons were used to dig the foundations for the piers.
The steel bridges were converted to highway use in 1956-1957. It served as a link in the growing Copper River Highway until the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. While the piers and bridges survived, all were damaged and shifted to the point that the bridge was not worth salvaging. In addition, both approaches subsided by about a foot. The entire structure was eventually demolished and replaced with modern bridges for the stub of the Copper River Highway that was rebuilt.
Note: The modern replacement itself has now failed. Due to the shifting flow patterns in the delta, significantly more water started flowing through this area around 2009. In 2011, scour caused Bridge 339 to fail entirely, falling into the river.
Hot Cake Channel Bridge Photos
- “The Alaska Earthquake, March 27, 1964, Effects on Transportation and Utilities”. United States Department of the Interior, Reuben Kachadoorian, US Government Printing Office, 1968. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PROFESSIONAL PAPER 545-C
- “Copper River Highway – Environmental Impact Statement” Alaska Department of Highways, Project S-0851, Southcentral District