Fascinating Bridge Facts

For thousands of years, bridges have served as a way for people to get across a river, lake or canyon. Modern bridges need to be solid and secure, not only to assure people that they can cross safely on foot, but to ensure a safe and reliable crossing for cars, trucks and trains.

Unfortunately, not all bridges have passed the test of safety. Throughout the years, there have been many tragedies involving bridges that have resulted in deaths and injuries. Some of these accidents have been fairly recent. Bridge mats are just one of many elements that go into the construction of a secure bridge. To learn more, click here.

Interesting Bridges Around the World

Bridges have been around even longer than people have recorded history. The oldest bridge in existence is a single-arch footbridge made of stone in Turkey. Historians estimate the bridge dates from 1300 to 1200 B.C. Its construction is so solid that people still cross it to this day.

The bridge holding the record as the longest in the world is one that stretches over the sea in China, at more than 26 miles long. Another long sea bridge is located in Florida. While it’s able to host both pedestrians and automobile traffic, many people are afraid to cross this bridge since it’s said to be vulnerable to high winds and hurricane damage.

Sturdy Iconic Bridges

There are many varieties of solid bridges, but all of them have a few things in common: quality materials and proven engineering. Some of the best bridges still in use today are hundreds of years old, although they are still routinely inspected, maintained and repaired. These include the breathtaking Rialto Bridge in Venice, constructed in 1591, and the beautiful Tower Bridge in London, which was started in 1886.

Another iconic bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which was constructed in the 1930s. This is a pristine example of a modern suspension bridge, which features suspension cables that hold most of the bridge’s load. While suspension bridges look modern, their design has actually been in use for hundreds of years.

Infamous Bridge Failures

Some bridges may fall, which in turn gives engineers a chance to examine the failures and create better designs. Older bridges that don’t receive as much maintenance as they should are particularly susceptible to failure. This was the case with the Interstate-5 bridge that spans Washington’s Skagit River. In 2013, part of the bridge collapsed, dropping three vehicles into the river. Fortunately, nobody was killed. Many people were not so lucky in 1967, when the Ohio River’s Silver Bridge collapsed during rush hour and killed 46 people.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable images of bridge failure is that of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. In 1940, high winds caused resonation among the suspension cables, and the roadway spanning the bridge began to rock and sway, causing a surreal and frightening spectacle. Fortunately, traffic was evacuated from the bridge before it eventually collapsed into the water.

With the use of quality materials such as suspension cables and bridge mats that are constantly being improved, most people can enjoy the beauty and convenience of bridges without having to deal with a dangerous collapse.