When city officials in Topeka, Kan., approved construction of a Melan system reinforced concrete bridge in 1896, local papers said it was "the greatest invention in bridge-building science since the parabolic truss." Work began on the bridge in the fall of 1896. The total length of the bridge was 540 feet - the largest concrete bridge built in the United States up to that time. The roadway was 28 feet wide and was flanked by two 6-foot-wide walkways. Foundations for the bridge's piers averaged 25x55 feet and were supported by clusters of 80 to 100 deep-driven wood piles. The piles were surrounded with porous concrete and encased in a hard concrete outer shell. The cost of the bridge was reported as $150,000. Sidewalks were concrete and the roadway was paved with brick, covered with coal tar and pitch.