Bridges are back in the limelight now that the world’s allegedly longest bridge, the Jiaohzou Bay Bridge in China, has been open to the great public. However, there is more to bridges than length. The amount of know-how and technology that goes into creating a structure that is essentially suspended above a void is impressive. In addition, bridges can be weird, unique, funny looking and even whimsical. Proof to that stand these ten amazing structures collected from around the world and featured below.
1. Henderson Waves, Singapore
This sinewy, golden state-of-the art structure stands 36 meters high up in the air – roughly, the equivalent of a twelve-story building. The amazing thing about this 300-meter long bridge is that it was designed exclusively for pedestrians, who can amble along its suspended track and take in a superb natural view. The bridge links Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill parks in Singapore. This is such a cool idea, I can't wait to visit again when I'm in the region, especially since Singapore Airlines business class that I often use, it is also very convenient.
|Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore|
2. The Great Belt Fixed Link, Denmark
The fixed link between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen is a suspension bridge which allows vehicles to travel up top, plus a box girder bridge between Sprogø and Funen. The fixed link bridge spans 6,790 meters across the sea, with a free span of 1,624 meters, while the Western box girder bridge is 6,611 meters long with a vertical clearance for ships of 18 meters. The weird thing about this bridge is that, essentially, it’s made up of two bridges, one with a railway for trains, and another with a road component, both based on the same foundation below sea level.
3. The Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Brazil
You will rarely get to see any piece of design that’s more impressive than this gigantic X-shaped cable-anchored bridge, completed in 2008 over the Pinheiros River in Sao Paulo. Its pylon reaches up to 452 feet in height and no less than 144 steel cables anchor it. It is powered by an energy-efficient LED light system spreading a colorful shower of lights in various colors and patterns over the amazing structure.
|Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Brazil|
4. Cikurutug Bridge, Indonesia
Not only is this bridge unique, to say the least, it’s also one of the scariest in the world. Basically, you get on the Argo Gede train in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the Gambir station and travel for three hours to Bandung. At some point, you will find yourself suspended some 200 feet above a seemingly bottomless valley. Admire the wonderful views of green valleys and mountains, but don’t forget that this very same train slid off its tracks in 2002… No one was hurt and security measures have since been increased, but this bridge definitely provides a thrill ride.
5. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
Often called the world’s scariest bridge, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope in Northern Ireland is located in County Antrim, near Ballintoy. Its twenty meters in length travel above rocks and ocean waters to link the mainland with the tiny island of Carrick. There’s an admission fee to put your life at risk on this bridge, but nearly 250,000 visitors chose to take this risk in 2009 alone. Its name means ‘rock in the road,’ a clear indicator of the perils lying beneath your unsure footsteps.
|Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland|
6. The Millau Viaduct, France
This wonderful looking bridge is located high up above the Tarn Valley in southern France. Since it stands no less than 1,125 feet up in the air, many of those who have traveled across it have likened the sensation to flying. The Millau Viaduct is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and took three years to build. It was designed by Foster + Partners and opened in 2004. Its total length is 8,071 feet, with a longest single span of 1,122 feet and a maximum clearance below of 886 feet. This is one impressive structure, with its 36,000 tons supported by seven 292-foot tall masts.
7. The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, USA
It’s 1.4 miles long, it was built in 1966 and carries State Route 520, from Seattle to Medina. The amazing thing about it is that it stands above Lake Washington, whose depth of 200 feet did not allow 1960s engineers to come up with a suspension bridge. Instead, they devised a floating bridge, anchored by a complex system of underwater weights. The bridge’s flexibility has even allowed it to withstand a barge crashing into it.
|Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, USA|
8. Lupu Bridge, China
Met with lots of local adversity when it was first built, the Lupu Bridge over the Huangpu River in China is the longest arch bridge in the world, whose 550 meters in length replaced the previous record holder’s 518 meters (the New River Gorge in West Virginia). The locals were pretty unhappy with the bridge’s exorbitant costs and argued that then-mayor Chen Liangyu insisted to build the world’s longest arch bridge only to boost his own popularity and become a world-renowned figure, all the while ignoring the needs of the people.
9. Wind and Rain Bridge, China
The Chinese know their bridges, and this might be the case because they've been building exquisite structures suspended above water for centuries. The Wind and Rain Bridge, located in Diping, in the Guizhou Province is the longest bridge that typifies the architecture of the Dong minority. It was built in 1894, during the Qing Dinasty. Even if the original structure burnt down in a big fire in 1959, the current replica, constructed in 1964, closely copies the original.
|Wind and Rain Bridge, China|
10. The Rolling Bridge, the United Kingdom
The award-winning Rolling Bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio, is located in Paddington Basin, in London. You may have seen bridges that open before, but we guarantee you’ve never seen a bridge that rolls up the way this one does. Its single rigid element lifts to let the boats pass, and lifts to the point where its two ends touch. Its simple wood and steel footbridge structure could fool you into believing this is a normal bridge, if you see it in normal position. It stands twelve meters long and curls thanks to the hydraulic rams set into the handrail between each section.
Photos via Wikimedia Creative Commons and Flickr Creative Commons