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Bridges to Prosperity

It looks like I get to teach an introduction to Structural Analysis course this spring.

Which got me thinking about the great photos on the “Bridge Photo of the Day” blog showing low cost suspension bridges. (Mark is a volunteer for the bridge building non-profit. )

Bridges to Prosperity is a non-profit that helps to build bridges as part of “the global fight to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. It is a poverty reduction method that is sustainable, scalable, and incredibly efficient.”

The Happy Pontist wrote a great series on the program.

Do yourself a favor and look at the great photos on the bphod, the quality is great (large photos) and I often wonder if I could actually design them…..

Have A Happy New Year!


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Champlain Bridge

A video showing the history of the Champlain bridge and one blowing it up..when was the last time a President showed up to open your bridge?

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Design everyday!

Well its tough to design a new bridge every day but I think it would be possible to sketch a bridge design 20 minutes a day (for a year?). The design muscles need flexing and the more you practice the better you will get. (hey it didn’t work for me, hmmmm)

Smashing magazine has a good article for the budding designer.

Have a Happy Holiday!

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Bridges of Color

I know the Golden Gate bridge is the most famous bridge of color and I know that when you see a white bridge you shout “that’s a Calatrava!” So what other bridges rely on color to enhance their appearance?

Painting a bridge is often frowned upon as a maintenance nightmare. When a bridge is painted, engineers typically stick to blue, red and white. (These colors seem to have stable pigments and last.)

redbridge copy

So help me out, send me some links for bridges that rely on their color. A bridge that would lose its identity if you changed the color.
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Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge

Denis, an engineer in Canada, sent me a picture and some information about the Kicking Horse Pedestrian bridge.

  • a) Thanks!
  • 2) I’m jealous he gets to go to British Columbia for the Holidays.

Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada. Planned as a community project by the Timber Framers Guild, volunteers from Golden were joined by carpenters and timber framers from the United States and from Europe. The bridge structure is 150 feet (46 m) long, with a 210,000-pound Burr arch structure. The bridge was completed in September 2001.


Here is an image, I made, showing live (people) loads, 50 lbs/sq.ft, 100 lbs/sq.ft and 150 lbs/sq.ft on a 25 foot square.

liveload people

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Replacement for the closed Lake Champlain Bridge

An advisory committee has recommended a last-minute design as the replacement for the closed Lake Champlain Bridge, set to be demolished in the coming weeks.
The last design, this one created at the last minute, is the moderated arch that officials said is similar to the first arch design but the most like the original bridge. Officials said No. 6 appears to be the favorite amongst the meeting attendees.

When the historic Lake Champlain Bridge closed, it was more than an annoyance – it entirely upended a way of life
When the Lake Champlain Bridge between New York and Vermont closed, commuters got in long lines at the ferries. (Herb Swanson for The Boston Globe)

Slideshow of the designs here.  (really lousy images)


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Here for an argument.

I have been phoning it in lately because of a new work position and the holidays, so I thought I needed a good argument to jumpstart the creative process. This typically means finding another blog with a dumb idea and then setting them straight using the laser like beam of engineering truth. (that’s a joke by the way, see an architect would not get that..)

The big problem is finding other blogs to rail against. I could go down the well worn path of taking on architects but that is getting pretty boring (defense less and all).

So I need some topics. (I will save you some time suggesting the typical ones.)

  • Health care – for it
  • World peace – for it
  • politics – against
  • super villains – would be cool (slightly different than politicians but not much)

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Joining up and buying a bridge for a buck

I have been busy with the holidays but I did take time out to apply for a city commission. I thought since I often complain that engineers don’t join anything (other than professional groups) that I would give the local Public Art Commission a shot.

I don’t know if I will be invited to join but it is a small step to getting involved with the city and the public. (I know it is a small step.) I would be interested to know how many engineers join city commissions, especially ones outside of their comfort zone…

Buy a bridge for a buck.

Not the greatest looking structure but one that might be useful to other communities and the price may be right. I wonder how much it would cost to analyze (for future loads) and move?

Chronicle file photo
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Engineering Pet Peeves #1

With less than two weeks before Christmas I thought a little scrooge would be fun. All engineers deal with things that get their goat, so here is your chance to vent…

  • CADD – it bugs me to no end that engineers can’t detail, preferring to let technicians put together their plans. (don’t talk to me about time restraints, drawing helps you work out your thoughts…)
  • Scale- we have software that can draw to an exact scale, so why are so many drawings not to scale? I want to use cadd drawing to check measurements and help to develop quantities.   (I have also worked through a drawing that shows the steel will fit only to realize it won’t)
  • Survey feet – sometimes the units we have to use…don’t get me started…
  • Examples – the over reliance on examples instead of theory
  • The lack of engineering voices in the public square.
  • Learning – learning seems to stop for some engineers..
  • Mondays
  • Politicians

Well thats enough for now, I have to go Christmas shopping…so do you have any to add?