New way of building bridges could be faster, cheaper, better

You've probably seen this triangle before: Fast, Cheap, Good -- Pick Two. Here's a new bridge-building technique from Austria that seems to allow the customer to get a bridge that's faster, cheaper, better than traditional bridges.

From Popular Mechanics:

The umbrella method is a completely new way to construct a static final bridge. This TU Wien team first worked on the idea in 2006, and it’s been experimenting and fine tuning since then. Instead of traditional kinds of bridge building—i.e. putting up long-term scaffolding as rebar is laid and concrete is filled into structures—this mechanism is built like a “closed” umbrella and then unfolded into its final position. From there, its hollow girders are filled with concrete and the rest of the structural elements are completed.

“Erecting bridges using scaffolding usually takes months,” designer Johann Kollegger said in a statement. “The elements for the balanced lowering method, on the other hand, can be set up in two to three days, and the lowering process takes around three hours.” But this process, he says, is less invasive for bridges through protected or uneven terrain. The team's sample bridge over the Lafnitz River touches a nature preserve.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Sad news: truck-eating bridge to be raised this week

The 11'8" bridge in Durham, N.C., which has brought so much misery to unobservant truck drivers and so much joy to the internet, will be raised to 12'4" this week. Is nothing sacred in the age of Trump?

On October 26, I spent the afternoon at the 11foot8 bridge as the crew was working on preparing the structure for raising it next week. They cut off the rusty steel supports of the old walkway on the southern side of the trestle, and they removed the battered, bent crash beam that was the canopener's "teeth" for taking bites out of many a hapless, overheight truck on Gregson St. I hope you all enjoy the video.

It's only a few inches, but it's the difference between life and death for the standard 12ft high rental trucks that comprise the bridge's normal diet.

Here's a compilation featuring many of the Can Opener's victims:

Read the rest

Stunning video of a bridge collapse in Taiwan

A truck was traveling across the Nanfang’ao Bridge in Taiwan this morning when the bridge collapsed.

According to Mashable:

A truck can be seen passing over the span as it falls, almost making it to the other side before being dragged down. The tanker caught fire when it landed, according to the New York Times. The driver was injured but survived.

According to reports, five people are still missing after the accident. At least 12 people were injured, including the truck driver, two rescue workers, and several people in fishing boats.

And via The New York Times:

Maintenance consultants responsible for the bridge had in previous years found rusted cables, and several connected points had been hit by vehicles and damaged, according to The Liberty Times.

The consultants had reported the problems several times to the harbor administration, but did not receive a reply, the newspaper reported. The public affairs office of the Su’ao Port branch office of the Taiwan International Ports Corporation declined to comment on the report.

Read the rest

Scotland has its own "can opener" bridge

Tam Lindsay (tambothejambo on twitter) witnessed a spectacular mistake by a bus driver in West Lothian that tore the roof off his double-decker ride.

Out a walk in Fauldhouse and heard a huge collision. Local bus tried to go under railway bridge and took top tier of bus

The error was egregious enough for the driver to be charged, reports the BBC.

No-one was injured and the Lothian Country bus driver was the only occupant of the vehicle at the time. A spokesman for the operator said: "We can confirm one of our vehicles was involved in an incident earlier today in the Fauldhouse area and we are fully assisting Police Scotland with their inquiries."

Adds the BBC:

A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Just you wait until the procurator fiscal hears of this! Read the rest

New Vietnamese bridge appears held aloft by a giant hand

Over the summer, a spectacular golden bridge opened to the public near Da Nang. In addition to a great view from Vietnam's Ba Na Hills, the Cầu Vàng bridge appears to be supported by a colossal hand. Read the rest

Which bridge in your state is the most dangerous?

America's infrastructure is close to hitting rock bottom. In fact, infrastructure as a whole in the US received an embarrassing D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers latest Infrastructure Report Card. And when talking specifically about bridges, the grade was a C+. Way to go, Congress.

According to Business Insider, "Every state has at least one structurally deficient bridge, which the US Department of Transportation (DOT) defines as when one or more key bridge components (e.g. the deck, superstructure, or substructure) is in 'poor' condition."

And the Auto Insurance Center says that "tens of thousands of bridges across the country are currently falling apart." Great. So which of these over 10,000 crumbling US bridges are in the worst condition? The Auto Insurance Center put out a list, which includes the worst bridge in every state, including Washington D.C. Here is a sample from the list:

Arizona I-17 over 19th Avenue in Maricopa County • California I-110 over Dominguez Channel in Los Angeles • Colorado I-70 ML over Havana St Railroad in Denver • Florida Fuller Warren Bridge in Duval County • New York Route I-278 over Relief in Richmond County • Washington DC Anacostia Freeway over Suitland Parkway Southeast

For an easy way to read the full list, check it out at Business Insider.

Image by Payton Chung from Chicago, USA - 105 freeway @ Harbor?, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest

If you like 11Foot8 bridge, you'll love 10Foot6 bridge

If the mayhem caused by 11Foot8 bridge was not enough, imagine shaving another 1Foot2 off the clearance, et voila! The 10Foot6 Bridge in Westwood, Massachusetts. Read the rest

World's highest bridge opens to traffic

Duge Beipanjiang Bridge crosses a gorge 565 meters above China's Nizhu River. That's a bigger height than One World Trade Center, and beats the previous record-holder by about 70 meters. Read the rest

Backpacker with GoPro falls off suspension bridge

This is a scary video. It's a first-person video of a French guy hiking with other backpackers in New Zealand. When they go across a suspension bridge a cable snaps, and one or more of hikers fall off. Fortunately, there's water 25 feet below and there were no serious injuries.

[via] Read the rest

No one should ever let me build a bridge

I've spent most of my life surrounded by bridges, living beside oceans and bays and rivers that required me to cross them daily. But I never really knew what the engineering principles were, or how they worked—I simply trusted that they did.

After playing Poly Bridge, a physics-based game where you construct bridges to solve puzzles, I have concluded both that 1) no one should ever allow me to build a weight-bearing structure, and 2) it's a lot more fun than I anticipated.

In each level, you're given a certain amount of resources—concrete, wood, hydraulics—and tasked with building a bridge for a certain number of vehicles to cross. There's a tutorial that walks you through the basics (hint: it involves a lot of triangles) and it's simple enough to almost anyone to follow. Once the real game begins, however, it may take a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly how to get all those cars and motorbikes from point A to point B.

Sometimes you'll be limited by materials, other times only by your imagination. Sure, a ramp that launches motorcycles like projectiles across the water isn't the safest municipal construction decision, but it's definitely more fun. Other times you might construct wiggling suspension bridges, or drawbridges that contract when tugboats come chugging down the river.

I'm not particularly inclined towards engineering, so I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy Poly Bridge. But the game holds your hand enough long enough to make you feel like you have the skills you need, and then lets you tweak and repeat as many times as you need to gain confidence in your own experiments. Read the rest

Driver fails to leap retracting bridge

The driver was unharmed in the drop, reports Yahoo News, but broke his ribs and punctured a lung climbing out of the water. Read the rest

Photos of the Golden Gate Bridge grand opening (1937)

Seventy-eight years ago this week, the Golden Gate Bridge opened across the San Francisco Bay. Read the rest

Deer on Golden Gate Bridge

During Friday rush hour, a pair of deer trotted across the Golden Bate Bridge from San Francisco toward Marin. I hope they have FasTrak for the commute back. Read the rest

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's video on the new SF Bay Bridge

Amazingly talented and frequently quirky alt.folk act Thao & The Get Down Stay Down orchestrated the first video production on the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. They were shut down by The Man but not before capturing enough footage to make this vid for "Feeling Kind" from their excellent LP "We The Common." Read the rest

Effort to make a house from the SF Bay Bridge scrap

When the newly-replaced Oakland span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is demolished in the next few years, the scrap will be sent to China. David Grieshaber has other plans for it. He's launched, an effort to recycle just a bit of the material into a house and multi-use space.

The project plans to build one of the most advanced eco sustainable houses to date, using recycled pieces of the bridge as the structure of the building. We are looking for creative out of the box designs that preserves the historic look and some design elements of the Bridge. Concrete, steel and glass, we do not intend to use any wood and plaster as a building material. The designs must utilize as much of the old bay bridge in the design as possible. This includes trusses, steel I-beams, steel girders, steel plates, wires, gates, fencing, ladders, walkways, concrete, and any other parts associated with the bridge. The location of the house will have a view of the New Bay Bridge.

Bay Bridge House (thanks, Jason Tester!) Read the rest

Is this bridge pretty?

Photo: Annette Sandburg

Last weekend, Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Bridge was yarn-bombed by volunteers. Pittsburgh Magazine offers 30 photos of the feat, which involved "more than 3,000 feet of colorful, hand-knit blankets in honor of the late pop artist’s 85th birthday." Read the rest

Is this bridge ugly?

A new bridge in Dresden, Germany, was deemed so hideous that the UNESCO has delisted the entire city from its World Heritage index. The removal, protesting the construction's marring of historical city views, makes Dresden the first city to exit the United Nations' tally of the world's beautiful and important places. Read the rest