When I did a blog post on bridges  two and a half years ago, I learned that there are a lot of people who like bridges, and a few who don't. This week I received an e-mail about bridges from a long-time friend and thought it would make a neat blog post. (Thanks, Dallas!) As I fact-checked the information in the e-mail, I was shocked to find pictures of every one of the seven bridges called by the names of almost every one of the other bridges in the e-mail! As best as I can determine, what I'm posting today is accurate. If not, please let me know ... just be sure that your sources are more reliable than some of the sites I saw! Ah, the bane and blessing of the Internet!
Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni, Japan
The original Kintai Bridge was built in 1673 but collapsed due to flooding. The rebuilt bridge survived for more than 200 years until a typhoon destroyed it in 1950. The bridge that stands now over the Nishiki River has five wooden arches displaying an incredible amount of detail and craftsmanship. Interesting fact — originally no nails or bolts were used to build the arches, achieved by the careful fitting of the wooden parts and by building up thick girders by clamping and binding them together with metal belts. The shape and weight of the bridge made it extremely strong from the top, but incredibly weak from underneath. Flood water rushing along the river would simply lift the bridge up and wash it downstream. In 1953, the bridge was once again reconstructed using very similar techniques to the original; however, they used metal nails to increase its durability. This 1953 reconstruction, partially restored in 2001 and 2004, still stands today.
Here's a picture of the Kintai Bridge at cherry blossom time.
Here's a picture of the underside of the Kintai Bridge, described above.
Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, Brasilia, Brazil
The Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge completed in 2002 in Brasilia is a lesson in elegant bridge design. Inaugurated on 15 December, 2002, this bridge immediately became one more of Brasilia’s favorite landmarks. The deck of the bridge is supported by three 200-foot (61 meters) tall asymmetrical steel arches that crisscross diagonally. The 1,312 yard (1,200 meter) long bridge has a pedestrian walkway and is accessible to bicyclists and skaters. Beautiful from every angle, the bridge is particularly impressive illuminated at night.
Here's a side view of the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge.
Here's a view of the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge at night.
Rolling Bridge, London, UK
Thomas Heatherwick's curling bridge, built in 2004, is a unique and ingenious addition to the Grand Union Canal system in London and won the British Structural Steel Design Award back in 2005. Unlike regular movable canal bridges, the rolling bridge curls up to form an octagon by way of hydraulic jacks to let ships pass. The bridge consists of eight triangular hinged sections. When extended, it resembles a conventional steel and timber footbridge, and is 39 feet (12 meters) long. After some repairs in 2008, the bridge was fully operational again.
Here's an animated picture I found on Wikipedia, showing how this kind of bridge curls up.
Beipanjiang River Railroad Bridge, Guizhou, China
Beipanjiang River Railroad Bridge in Guizhou is an enormous railway bridge that was built as part of the Guizhou-Shuibai Railway Project. Connecting two mountains over a deep ravine, at its highest point the bridge's deck sits 918 feet (280 meters) above the bottom of the ravine. Parenthetically, the bridge connects two of the country's poorest areas.
Henderson Waves, Southern Ridges, Singapore
Henderson Waves is Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge and is at the Southern Ridges, a beautiful 6 mile (9 km) stretch of gardens and parks. The bridge is 900 feet (276 meters) long and is 120 feet (36 meters) above Henderson Road. From the side pictured above, it looks as if it would be horribly difficult to walk on. A view from the other side (see the picture below) reveals something else.
The bridge has a wave-form made up of seven undulating curved steel ribs that alternately rise over and under its deck. The curved ribs form alcoves that function as shelters containing seats. Thousands of slats of yellow balau wood, an all-weather timber found in Southeast Asia, perfectly cut and arranged, are used in the decking. The wave-forms are lit with LED lamps from 7pm to 2am daily.
Here's a picture of one of the alcoves inside one of the waves.
Here's a picture of the bridge at night.
Pont Gustave Flaubert, Rouen, France
This incredible vertical lift bridge is in Rouen, France, whose spans weigh 1,200 tons each but can be hoisted 180 feet (55 meters) vertically in an impressive 12 minutes. The angular lift structures at the top of each tower weigh 450 tons each. The huge vertical lift allows even the largest cruise liners to sail through. When I got the e-mail and saw this bridge, I was a little suspicious because I didn't see this bridge when we were in Rouen. Doing my research for this post, though, I learned that it wasn't there when we were last in Rouen, in 2001. The construction which began in June 2004, with the bridge's opening officially 25 September 2008, is estimated to have cost about 60 million euros. The Rouen City Council decided to name the bridge in honor of one its native sons, Gustave Flaubert, a 19th century author.
Here's a picture of a ship passing under the raised bridge.
Hegigio Gorge Pipeline Bridge, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
This world's highest pipeline bridge (at least at the time of this post) is a suspension bridge with a spans 514 yards (470 meters). It supports two pipelines — one gas, the other oil — and is used for transporting petroleum across an extremely deep gap in Papua New Guinea. Some may argue that the Hegigio span is not a true bridge since it was not built for people, but this third of a mile long web of wire and steel is a structure capable of supporting several hundred tons of weight. If this were to be officially recognized as a vehicular or pedestrian bridge, it would rocket to the top of the world's highest bridge-span, with the pipelines at an impressive height of 1,290 feet (393 meters) above the bottom of the gorge. By comparison, the current highest bridge span belongs to the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, hanging a mere 1,053 feet (321 meters) above ground level.
Two I-beams support a trolley maintenance car. Below are several pictures of structure up close, complete with several men crossing it in a maintenance car.
Do you like bridges? Do you have a favorite bridge that you've seen or would like to see?
"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers." - Nikita Khrushchev
"We build too many walls and not enough bridges." - Isaac Newton