Stop by the Happy Pontist website and read the great post by Simon Bourne. In essence Mr. Bourne is calling out a bridge concept that crosses the boundaries of good design and responsible value for the money. Tough thing to do in public.
This got me to thinking about how engineers are perceived as the party of No. No you can’t support your building on wood columns, no a glass highway bridge is not a good idea. You get my drift, we have to be the grownups in the room.
Being an engineer is very much like being a parent. We have to protect against those bad ideas, like going out with college boys when you are only in high school, and have a plan for the future.
It would be so much more fun being the party of Yes. Yes you can build a bridge out of shipping containers with minimal support, yes of course that unsupported cantilever will hold cars, yes I honestly believe you can build that one of a kind bridge for that budget.
When I worked on a corridor bridge project with an architect, the architect stood at the front of the room and said, “this is the best the engineers will let me do.”
On another project I worked with local city officials on an arch bridge concept. I had concepted out a bridge that would cost about $5 million to build. I was told that was too much money and they moved to another designer. Final cost of the new arch $12 million. The difference, the new designer said yes to everything. Wider bridge, sure, two bike paths sure and changed the discussion. To be honest, I think saying yes will get you more work than saying no.
Back to the River Wear bridge discussion on the Happy Pontist blog. Mr. Bourne is completely correct that the design is a bad value. Reading the post I understand what he is saying about the design but others will see it as engineers being negative about an “innovative” project.
Being an engineer is difficult, trying to stick to a budget is difficult, trying to stop your client from eating too much candy is difficult..maybe we have to wait until the children are grown and then we can say “see I told you so”……but sometimes it would be fun to be the parent who says ” yes you should take a year off school and travel around Europe with your boyfriend.”