Americans love automobiles almost as much as their first born child. We fantasize about the open road, and spend ungodly amounts of money on gasoline and upkeep (on 2/18/13 the average price per gallon was $3.747 in the U.S., per EIA). Though we plan road trips months in advance, how often do we consider what it takes to keep our transportation infrastructure operational?
Costs are astronomical concerning general DOT road upkeep, and this includes bridges in all 50 states. One of the oldest bridge types in use today is the truss, which utilizes wooden beams and triangular dimensions to maintain strength. Examples are covered bridges, which can be found throughout New England, but especially in Vermont. Suspension bridges are made for spanning large bodies of water, and arch bridges can help motorists navigate deep ravines (read more HERE). Here in Portland Maine, we are very familiar with a different kind of modern marvel: the bascule bridge. These span bodies of water, and help ships navigate into and out of harbors and bays. Also known as a “drawbridge,” bascule bridges accommodate large cargo ships, but also have relatively high energy efficiency. For more info on these marvels, click HERE. The only real drawback is that while a ship is passing through, all crossing of the bridge must halt. A small price to pay for multiple uses, but a pain in the neck if you’re late for work!