The Road Bridge – An Underestimated Form

Although many drivers think of bridges as a way to travel between point A and B some of them are worth visiting for their own sake. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for example.

The Golden Gate connects the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Bay. A one-mile construction, it was overseen by Joseph Strauss in 1917 but not opened until 1937. It was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge at the time.

Another US bridge which was the largest bridge for its day was the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, unlike the Golden Gate this is a mixture of cable and suspension bridge. Plans were brewing since 1800 for a bridge to connect Brooklyn with the rest of the city. In this case, Roebling with the main engineer, starting with the caissons or platforms for the suspension towers, building the suspension towers themselves and then finally the “road” part of the bridge.

Choosing Joseph Strauss to oversee the bridge was a strange choice as he had no experience or understanding in how to create such a large-scale project, eventually he decided to work from the designs of Leon Moissoiff with Irving Morrow acting as the architect.

In order to get shipping to negotiate under the East River viaducts had to be built on both sides of the bridge. Despite the years of discussion and planning, the bridge was only opened in 1883.

There are more modern bridges which are worth commenting on, such as the Øresund Bridge which opened in 2000, designed for both for road and rail to travel between Sweden and Demark. It runs to Peberholm which is an island in the middle of Øresund Strait. The rest of the journey uses a tunnel.

It has this strange arrangement because a longer bridge would interfere with air traffic from Copenhagen.

The idea for a bridge in this region was planned ever since 1910. Peberholm is a nature reserve. The tunnel consists of two tubes for the railway and two larger tubes as well as well as a smaller emergency tunnel.

There are similar bridge-tunnels in the US such as Chesapeake Bay, Virginia connects Northampton County with Virginia Beach. Hampton Reeds and between Monitor and Merrimas. Many intercontinental railways have their own bridge-tunnels.

A twin sail bridge created in Dorset for road traffic uses double bascules. The two “leaves” open by hydraulic system. It takes two minutes to open. Although it has a similar form to Tower Bridge the use of sails makes for a perhaps more iconic look.

The Uruguay bridge is a circular ring-shaped bridge designed for a mass amount of traffic. The heightened curve slows the car down. There are a number of pedestrian crossings allowing those not in cars or motorbike to negotiate its interesting design.

The Eshoma Ohashi bridge is a bit of a talking point as it goes up at 45 degrees – or so it appears. It’s actually an optical illusion, its rise is nowhere near as steep.

The Dragon Bridge, Da Nang has wonderful selling points, breathes fire at the weekends. It is also lit up in the evenings.

Leonel Viera Bridge

The Leonel Viera Bridge  is a stressed ribbon bridge linking the cities of Punta del Este and La Barra across the Maldonado River [es] in southern Uruguay


Roads will always need to bridge the gap, so there will be plenty of opportunity in creating innovative designs out there. 

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