Building Better Bridges

Bridges are essential for day-to-day commuting and travel throughout the year, so it’s crucial that they are built to withstand both extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions. If a bridge collapses during a natural disaster, it becomes much more difficult for rescue workers to reach survivors, paralyzing the humanitarian supply chain in the process.

Bridges can also be used to evacuate local residents from disaster zones when other systems fail. The Brooklyn Bridge, for example, is designed to withstand heavy foot traffic during times of crisis — such as the subway suspensions during the New York City blackouts of 1965, 1977, and 2003, or after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Because of the foresight of its engineer, John Roebling, the bridge was built to be six times stronger than it would need to be under normal traffic scenarios, supporting a massive rush of pedestrians should the need arise.

At their core, these bridges reflect the virtues of a well-planned supply chain. Thanks to the engineers, architects, and working crews involved in their construction, we can access places we could never otherwise reach.

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