Intrigued by Brian Brenner's post listing his own Top 10 Bridges, I was inspired to look back on my own experiences covering bridges for ENR in the past decade. I decided to just be spontaneous, and list the first five bridges that came to mind; surely that meant they were the ones that embedded themselves most deeply into my memory banks.
It's a VERY biased list because I unfortunately have not been able to visit all the great bridge construction sites in the world, thanks to our meager travel budget and my inability to clone myself. So I'm only thinking of the ones I was able to visit during construction. And only the first five that came to mind, 'cuz I've got a lot of work to do.
After I do this list, I will ask Helena Russell, a colleague who edits the international mag Bridge magazine, for her list.
5. St. Anthony Falls Bridge (aka I-35W), Minneapolis
Once the self-anchored suspension span is underway, it could well become my favorite site visit ever. Who knows? The backstory to this project is so full of drama that it could be a movie (with a cynical commentary on the absurdity of California politics). The feats of construction already performed already are amazing. Also, there is a sculpture of a troll way up on the Skyway, to be pointed out to gawking tourists like myself by Bay Bridge loremaster Bart Ney. Marquee players like T.Y. Lin International, American Bridge and C.C. Myers all play major roles.
3. Stonecutters Bridge
I am definitely biased because this project allowed me to visit Hong Kong for the first time in my life (where I found that, as an American woman but nobody knows it, I am freakishly big-boned and sadly unilingual; I also never thought a city could be more crowded and raucous that NYC). Arup designed a hybrid concrete/steel pier; Brian West, the contractor project manager, is one of the nicest (and ablest) I have ever met.
Looks pretty rusty, but this abandoned, ancient railroad bridge is transforming before one's very eyes into the world's possibly longest pedestrian walkway. I am extremely biased toward this project because I got to ride a helicopter that almost flewunderneath it. Another extraordinary team effort, with Bergmann, Harrison and Burroughs, Fort Miller Co....another great backstory that showcases a community success story. It took a lot of determination to make this happen.
1. Cooper River Bridge
One of the most gratifying bridge project sites I have ever visited. It sounded almost too good to be true. An international star team of contractors and designers design-building a bridge to withstand both earthquakes and hurricanes; a job training project to help socially disadvantaged community members learn construction trades; a retired SCDOT engineer coaxed into overseeing a spectacular swan song; a happy nearby port because taller ships now had river clearance...and construction workers who radiated pride in working there.
My Personal Honorable Mentions: Third Tacoma Narrows Bridge (what a workout climbing up all those stairs!), Third Yangtze River Bridge (thank you, Dr. Tang!), Busan-Geoje link (although that may go into my Top Five Tunnel Projects that I've visited).