I love bridges. I pursued a career in structural engineering in part because I was inspired by them. Bridges connect places and people. They can span small or great distances, but always they are constructed to create a connection between two points
that would otherwise be separated. From a log across a creek to the grandest suspension system, bridges can be romantic, practical, wide, narrow, airy, embedded in a concrete jungle or innocuously positioned in the wilderness.
This is a cable stayed pedestrian bridge in the Chicago suburb of Frankfort, IL. Many municipalities around the U.S. and the world have taken to commissioning iconic bridge designs for prominent locations in the community, perhaps as a way to express shared values or cultivate community pride.
The longest span bridge in the world, the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, is part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway. Total length over water is 102.4 miles.
And here’s the world’s tallest bridge, the Millau Viaduct located in France. It towers 1,125 feet above the river below. That’s higher than the Eiffel Tower.
But bridges don’t need to be long or high to inspire. Arches are lovely and can be formed with stone, steel, wood or concrete, and the arch may be above, below or even centered on the bridge. (Being centered is called a “pass through” bridge.)
Over time I may add new posts regarding various aspects of bridges. In the meantime I hope you’ll take a brief moment to appreciate the next time you drive over or under one of these structures!