14 July 2021
The Lighter Side: How to Build a Bridge
So, you wanna build a bridge? Who doesn’t? If you’re feeling a little stumped for inspiration, we’re offering to be your muse and share with you some brilliant (if not entirely practical) ideas.
How long have you dreamed of building your bridge? Can you envision it in your mind’s eye? Have you decided what style of bridge you’re aiming for? As you probably know, there are four basic construction-styles from which to pick: beam bridges, arch bridges, cantilever bridges and suspension bridges. (Fancy-pants bridges such as cable-stayed bridges and tied-arch bridges are generally considered to simply be variants of one of the aforementioned categories.) Have you decided which one you’d like to build?
While there are many factors to consider when designing your bridge, it may be useful to remember that the oldest bridge still in use today is the slab-stone single-arch bridge in Izmir, Turkey, that has spanned the river Meles since 850 BC. Not only has this bridge been in continuous use for 3,000 years, it is also a Guinness World Record holder.
(Okay, I can hear what some of you history geeks are thinking right about now: Yes, there are bridges that are thought to be older. So, let’s just say the bridge over the river Meles in Izmir is the “oldest clearly dateable bridge still in use”.) If you want your bridge to literally last forever, then slab-stone single-arch may be your best bet. You’ll certainly get a workout building one of these!
If, however, ease is your primary goal, then a beam or girder bridge is what you’re after. Generally, it’s the most inexpensive too. But let’s jump right in and get down to business.
How to Build a Bridge in Six Easy Steps
Bridge building, if nothing else, is an exercise in precision.
Honestly, people act like bridges are such a big deal, but Dictionary.com keeps it pretty simple: “bridge (noun): a structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road, or the like.”
Sounds pretty simple, right? You’ve got this. Let’s go!
Step 1: Something to Span — Wherever Possible
- A river. Avoid bears chasing leaping salmon, wherever possible.
- A canyon. Avoid coyotes and mountain lions, wherever possible.
- A busy freeway. Avoid traffic cops, wherever possible.
- A pond with an alligator in it at your golf club. Avoid alligators and stray airborne golf balls, wherever possible.
- A cliff-lined crevasse. Avoid blasted base-jumpers and misanthropic mountain dragons, wherever possible.
- A medieval castle with an intact moat. Avoid buckets of hot tar and guys with bows and arrows — you guessed it — wherever possible.
Step 2: The Lay of the Land
Step 3: The Modern Drawing Board
If you want your bridge to literally last forever, then slab-stone single-arch may be your best bet.
Step 4: The Moment of Reckoning
Step 5: The Road Less Traveled
. . . you’ll actually have built a bridge — without a single fastener of any kind . . .
Step 6: How to Build a Bridge (No BS)
If, like us, you appreciate intelligent design and ease of use, we have a selection of tools that smooth out some of the quirks of your CAD platform . . .