‘Transportation’ Category

Mackinaw Bridge

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This photo is of the Mackinaw Bridge, which connects spans between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Lower Peninsula over Lake Michigan/Huron. The Mackinaw Bridge is suspension bridge and was completed in 1957. The length of the bridge is 26,372 feet (4.99 miles) and its longest span is 3,800 feet. Suspension bridges are unique in the way the loads of the bridge are transferred to the ground. The cables of a suspension bridge work in tension, carrying the loads to the two towers which work in compression against the foundations on the earth. The cable ends are then secured in massive blocks of concrete that hold the tension in the cables completing the load path.

Mike O’ Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – Hoover Dam Bypass

Photo Credit: Jessie Benaglio

Mike O’ Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is built over the Colorado River near the Hoover Dam connecting Nevada and Arizona. It was meant to bypass driving over the Hoover Dam so there is not as much traffic for the pedestrians viewing the Dam. This bridge opened October 18, 2010. It is the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States. It is the second highest bridge in the United States, 840 feet above the Colorado River, and also the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere.

The bridge was constructed with seven pairs of columns. The arches were constructed on both sides of the bridge simultaneously while being supported by diagonal cables. When the two halves of the arch was completed, there was only a 3/8 inch gap which was filled with reinforced concrete.

Air Traffic Congestion

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

The growing number of plane trips in the United States and the world is causing major congestion in the air. In reality there is more than enough space for planes. However, keeping track of all those planes and maintaining the several mile buffer between them as required by the FAA is becoming a challenge for the the antiquated air traffic control system that is currently in place. As a result, work is being done to try and fix this problem by the FAA, NASA, and others. This work ranges from theoretical optimization of the air space for plane trip mapping, to better hardware to track planes so they can fly closer. All this work will be necessary as more and more planes take to the sky in the coming years.

Cable Stay Pedestrian Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge in Omaha, Nebraska. This serpentine cable stay bridge crosses the Missouri River and is an impressive 3000 feet long. The bridge connects two parks, one in Nebraska and one in Iowa, to make an interstate-park system that people can enjoy during all seasons of the year. This bridge is certainly one of the most visually beautiful pedestrian bridges in the world.

Viaduto do Corgo Bridge, Portugal

Photo Credit: Cláudio Venceslau Ferreira

Seen here is the Viaduto do Corgo bridge project in the Vila Real region of Portugal. The photo is of over two dozen bridge piers being constructed for a large car and truck bridge. Specifically one can see two slip-form carriages riding up piers and tower cranes built alongside these piers to aid in their construction. Projects like this require many people to work on them, ranging from politicians to get money for the project, to engineers to design the project, to construction works to build the project. In most cases these large scale construction projects employ many thousands of people over the course of years and can stimulate the local economy with the massive influx of works and materials for the bridge.

Parallel Draw Bridges, Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Kathryn Kubicek

Pictured above are five draw bridges, located in downtown Chicago, spanning parallel across the Chicago river. Draw bridges are very important because they allow vessels to pass that would not be able to pass through a water way with a fixed bridge. Along this section of the Chicago river there are approximately two dozen draw and bascule bridges to allow the busy city street traffic and river traffic to coexist.

Mechanical Lift Bridge – Duluth, MN

Photo Credit: Troy Clack

Seen here is a mechanical lift bridge in Duluth, Minnesota. Lift bridges are advantageous because they can use proportionally smaller counterweights than swing-span or bascule bridges, yet still allow for tall vessels to pass when the bridge is in the up position. However, the bridge superstructure is still above the water, so the height of the boats is still somewhat limited. This particular bridge has an interesting story of why it was needed and can be read about here.

Reclaimed Railroad Trestle

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is an old railroad trestle that has been converted into a pedestrian bridge. This particular bridge is part of a trail called the Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail, a state park in Michigan. The trail is part of a large network of trails across the country that are built from retired railroad lines. These trails exist due in large part to the effort of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. These trails offer a great way to explore reclaimed natural environments and to stay fit by either walking, running, or biking the trails. More can be found about the about the Rails to Trails Conservancy and the trails that are part of the network here.

Ambassador Bridge – Suspension Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit, MI, USA to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It is a standard suspension bridge with two anchorages, two towers, and two main cables. A unique feature of this bridge is it is privately owned and an international border crossing. It is owned by Michigan billionaire Manuel Moroun and has lead to many controversies as this bridge is the only connection for many miles which commercial truck traffic can cross between the two countries.