Connecting links

By Volker Paulun
They take us across rivers and valleys, connect city districts and cross other roads – whenever motion might be obstructed, bridges pave the way – like these prime examples of their kind.

Size matters

More on Jiaozhou Bay Bridge

Size matters

Name Jiaozhou Bay Bridge.

Location The bridge crosses the Jiaozhou Bay and connects the Chinese megacities of Qingdao and Huangdao.

Type Prestressed concrete girder road bridge (three lanes in each direction). The bridge includes a highway junction and three navigable sections, the largest one of them with a span width of 260 meters (850 ft).

Dimensions Over 5,000 concrete piles support the 42.5-km (25.84-mi) bridge which is the world’s longest bridge over water, according to Guinness World Records. When the gigantic bridge was opened in 2011 it bumped Lake Pontchartrain Bridge (USA, 38.4 kilometers (23.9 miles)) from the top spot it had defended for decades. The longest bridge on our planet is the Chinese high-speed rail bridge from Danyang to Kushan with a length of 164.8 kilometers (102.4 miles).

Other interesting facts The construction project that cost over 1 billion euros and used 450,00 metric tons of steel and 2.3 million metric tons of concrete is said to be able to withstand earthquakes of magnitude 8 and collisions with a 300,000-ton ship.

U.S. classic

More on Brooklyn Bridge

U.S. classic

Name Brooklyn Bridge.

Ort New York (USA), zwischen den Stadtteilen Manhattan und Brooklyn.

Location New York City (USA), between the Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs.

Type Suspension bridge over the Hudson River with two roadway levels, six lanes for automobile traffic (also for rail traffic until 1950) on the lower level and the upper level including a centerline for pedestrians and bicycles.

Dimensions The landmark with a total length of 1,83 kilometers (5,989 ft) was the world’s longest suspension bridge in 1883, the year of its completion. The longest span between the two granite towers which are more than 40 meters high is 486.3 meters (1,595.5 ft).

Other interesting facts 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists per day using Brooklyn Bridge per day make it one of New York City’s lifelines. Proof of the city’s love for the old lady has been an extensive makeover to the tune of some 800 million dollars that started in 2010.

The longest one of its kind

More on Akashi-Kaikyo-Bridge

The longest one of its kind

Name Akashi-Kaikyo-Bridge.

Location Since 1998 the bridge has linked Kobe on the Japanese mainland of Honshu to the Awaji-shima Island to the south.

Type Six-lane cable suspension bridge for automobile traffic.

Dimensions With a total length of 3,911 meters (12,831 ft) and a longest span of 1,991 meters (6,532 ft), the Japanese island connector is the world’s longest suspension bridge. Originally, the two towers were one meter (3.3 ft) closer together, but an earthquake during the construction stage moved them apart.

Other interesting facts The first bridge to have been suspended from towers was the Chagsam Bridge built in Tibet in 1430. The chains were the supporting element for a long time. The Passerelle de Saint-Antoine inaugurated in Geneva in 1823 is regarded as the world’s first permanent cable suspension bridge. It was followed by famous bridges like the New York Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Ponte 25 de Abril in Lisbon and the Storebæltsbroen in Denmark.

High-tech in the year of 1894

More on Tower Bridge

High-tech in the year of 1894

Name Tower Bridge.

Location In the heart of London, the bridge crosses the River Thames carrying the A100 Tower Bridge Road.

Type Combined bascule and suspension bridge with an additional pedestrian walkway at a height of 43 meters.

Dimensions More impressive than the length of 244 meters (801 ft) of the landmark that was inaugurated in 1894 are its towers that are 65 meters (213 ft) high and resemble those of a castle.

Other interesting facts High technology – from the perspective of the late 19th century – was installed in the Neo-Gothic towers: a water-hydraulic system pressurized by steam engines pushed the two folding elements upward. The system was replaced by an electro-hydraulic one using oil rather than water only in 1974.

The stateliest one

More on Khaju Bridge

The stateliest one

Name Khaju Bridge.

Location The bridge over the Zayandeh River links two districts of the Iranian metropolis of Isfahan.

Type Two-level stone bridge with 23 arches that also serves as a dam. It is strictly a bridge for pedestrians.

Dimensions The magnificent structure built around 1650 is 128.7 meters (422 ft) long. At the center of the facility is a pleasure palace which Shah Abbas II, who built the bridge, used as a belvedere. Today, the bridge is a popular meeting place.

Other interesting facts Lord George Curzon, Viceroy of India in the early 1900s, ennobled Khaju Bridge by calling it the stateliest one in the world.

Through wings of steel

More on El Ferdan Bridge

Through wings of steel

Name El Ferdan Bridge.

Location At the Suez Canal’s midpoint, the bridge links the Sinai Dessert with Western Egypt.

Type Two-wing swing bridge for rail (one lane) and automobile traffic (two lanes).

Dimensions The two 340-meter (1,115 ft) long swing segments make the steel construction that weights 13,200 metric tons the longest swing bridge in the world.

Other interesting facts In addition to the El Ferdan Bridge, a tunnel and a cable-stayed bridge cross the canal that is 193.3 kilometers (120.11 miles) long.

For daredevils

More on Hussaini Bridge

For daredevils

Name Hussaini Bridge.

Location The bridge links the banks of the Hunza River near the village of Hussaini in the north of Pakistan.

Type Suspension bridge made of rope and wooden planks.

Dimensions 194 meters (636 ft) long.

Other interesting facts The Hussaini Bridge that was completed in 1968 – one of several similar constructions in the region – has been rattling around the internet as the world’s most dangerous bridge. In fact, the rickety planks shown in the picture don’t inspire a lot of confidence, yet the bridge is safer than its reputation suggests, or put more precisely: it used to be safer because in 2010 a monsoon flood destroyed this important connection, forcing the local population to take a 20-kilometer (12.5 miles) detour in case of floods – until, finally, in 2017, a successor (with fewer holes in it) was built across the river again.

A steep Japanese slope

More on Eshima Ohashi Bridge

A steep Japanese slope

Name Eshima Ohashi Bridge.

Location The bridge spans the the Nakaumi Lake between the cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato.

Type Two-lane rigid-frame bridge for automobile traffic.

Dimensions 1.7 kilometers (1,05 miles) long and 44.7 meters (147 ft) high, making it the world’s third-largest one of its kind.

Other interesting facts The structure is dubbed “roller coaster” bridge. In fact, the uphill and downhill sections of 6.1 and 5.1 %, respectively, are impressive, albeit less spectacular than many pictures would have us believe.

French Connection

More on Viaduc de Millau

French Connection

Name Viaduc de Millau.

Location Near Millau in the Massif Central in Southern France. The A75 autoroute spans the gorge valley of the Tarn River at a height of up to 270 meters (886 ft).

Type Cable-stayed bridge.

Dimensions With a length of 2.46 kilometers (8,070 ft), it is the world’s longest strictly cable-stayed bridge and with a height of 343 meters (1,125 ft), France’s highest structure.

Other interesting facts The contractor that built the 400-million-euro bridge is the Eiffage Group founded by Gustave Gustave Eiffel.

H2, Oh!

More on Magdeburg Water Bridge

H2, Oh!

Name Wasserstraßenkreuz Magdeburg.

Location On the outskirts of Magdeburg where the Elbe Rive (below) and the Mittellandkanal (above) intersect.

Type Canal underbridge featuring a trough design.

Dimensions When filled, the 918-meter (3,012-ft) long bridge weighs 156,000 metric tons – twice as much as the “Queen Mary” luxury ocean liner. Thanks to three locks and a lift lock, vessels can switch between the Elbe River, the Mittelland and the Elbe-Havel-Kanal.

Other interesting facts In westerly direction, near Minden, a second major water bridge awaits vessels. That’s where the Mittellandkanal intersects with the Weser River.

Perfectly supported

Bridges must operate properly even without maintenance – be they swing bridges, bascule bridges, draw bridges, vertical lift bridges, suspension bridges or cable-stayed bridges. Particularly well suited for these requirements are Schaeffler’s dry plain bearings with an Elgoglide coating. With properties like low friction, suitability for heavy-duty service and no maintenance requirements, they are used in bridges around the globe. Here’s a selection:

  • Izmir (TR)The fourth-largest suspension bridge spans the Marmara Sea in the Gulf ...
    Izmir (TR)
    The fourth-largest suspension bridge spans the Marmara Sea in the Gulf of Izmir. More than 100 maintenance-free spherical plain bearings from Schaeffler are installed in the 2.6-km (1.6 miles) long Osman Gazi Bridge. They connect the road with the suspension cables at the junctions. © Erdmkiliic/Wikipedia
  • Barcelona (E)The harbor bridge is the world’s largest double bascule bridge. The ...
    Barcelona (E)
    The harbor bridge is the world’s largest double bascule bridge. The four bascule pivots are equipped with large spherical plain bearings (bore 670 mm/26.4 inch). The hydraulic drive cylinders are joined to the adjacent construction by means of maintenance-free joints. Each leaf is 70 meters long and weighs approximately 2,000 metric tons. © Colourbox
  • Kappeln (D)Maintenance-free INA large spherical plain bearings ensure functional ...
    Kappeln (D)
    Maintenance-free INA large spherical plain bearings ensure functional safety in the 23.5-million bascule bridge at Kappeln on the Schlei. The leaves weighing 1,400 metric tons are opened about 3,000 times a year. © Canonier/Wikipedia
  • Rotterdam (NL)The bascule bridge Van Brienenoord 2 was completed in 1990. The br ...
    Rotterdam (NL)
    The bascule bridge Van Brienenoord 2 was completed in 1990. The bridge leaf is approx. 80 meters (262 ft) long and weighs 1,900 metric tons, moving in four FAG spherical roller bearings. The bridge leaf is opened and closed using a toothed rack drive – also equipped with FAG spherical roller bearings and full-complement cylindrical roller bearings. A support mechanism was integrated into the bridge to relieve the loads on the rotary bearings during traffic, whose support points and track rollers are supported by FAG spherical roller bearings as well. © D.S. Wilbrink/Wikipedia
  • Storebælt (DK)One of the world’s longest suspension bridges is the Storebælt Bri ...
    Storebælt (DK)
    One of the world’s longest suspension bridges is the Storebælt Bridge in Denmark. Twelve spherical plain bearings in the damping and connection systems make the bridge “surefire” so that it is able to compensate for all vibrations caused by the wind and traffic. © Henrik Sendelbach/Wikipedia
  • Buenos Aires (RA)The Puente de la Mujer pedestrian bridge in the old harbor is a ...
    Buenos Aires (RA)
    The Puente de la Mujer pedestrian bridge in the old harbor is an architectural and technical masterpiece. 50 years of zero maintenance was the requirement specified for the bearings supporting the pivoting bridge section: a typical application for INA large spherical plain bearings with bore diameters of up to one meter (3.3 ft). © Jorge Láscar
  • Rügen (D)The Ziegelgraben drawbridge for road and rail traffic connects the isla ...
    Rügen (D)
    The Ziegelgraben drawbridge for road and rail traffic connects the island of Rügen with the mainland. It consists of three parts: two static bridges each spanning 52 meters (171 ft) and the tilting center bridge section (29 meters/95 ft). FAG had already equipped its successor dating to 1937 with spherical roller bearings. When the bridge was rebuilt in the 1990s Elgoglide-coated spherical plain bearings were installed at all points of rotation (bridge leaf, beam and tie rods). © Darkone/Wikipedia
  • Oude Maas (NL)The Spijkenisse vertical lift bridge consists of four 100-meter (3 ...
    Oude Maas (NL)
    The Spijkenisse vertical lift bridge consists of four 100-meter (328 ft) segments. The two center segments can be raised independently of each other in so-called lift towers by 45 meters (148 ft). The track rollers of the lift towers have a total of 168 FAG spherical roller bearings. 16 cable reels, each supported by two FAG spherical roller bearings, drive the system. The 64 FAG spherical roller bearings of the 32 cable winches have to support a weight of approx. 170 metric tons at a speed of 3 rpm. © Lanting/Wikipedia
  • Falsterbo (S)The FAG spherical roller bearings installed in the Falsterbo bridge ...
    Falsterbo (S)
    The FAG spherical roller bearings installed in the Falsterbo bridge in southern Sweden have to be turned about every five years to prevent one-sided wear. The bridge has been crossing the Falsterbo canal since 1992. Its predecessor was installed in the same place in 1940 after having been used in Copenhagen for 50 years. © Grillo/Wikipedia
  • Kampen (NL)The gold-plated cable sheaves on the Stadtsbrug are literally a shini ...
    Kampen (NL)
    The gold-plated cable sheaves on the Stadtsbrug are literally a shining example. Double-row spherical roller bearings with cylindrical bores support the tremendous weight of the movable bridge section that is regularly lifted and lowered to allow the passage of ships. © Arend 014/Wikipedia
Connecting links© Andree Stephan/Wikipedia
Author’s favorite

Volker Paulun, who heads the editorial team of “tomorrow,“ lives near Hamburg, the city that has 2,485 bridges – more than Venice, Amsterdam and Stockholm combined. However, his favorite bridge is located 130 kilometers (80.8 miles) further north, in the small town of Lindaunis. There, a drawbridge on which trains, cars, cyclists and pedestrians have to share a single lane, has been crossing the Schlei, a narrow inlet of the Baltic Sea, for 90 years.