Driving Scary Bridges
In the last few years, I have found driving over certain bridges to be a near phobic experience although I cannot say precisely why that is the case. So I thought I would share the anxiety-inducing spans to see if they trigger any similar reactions.
I recognize that such a fear is irrational, because, after all, what is the worst that could happen?
William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, Maryland
(aka Chesapeake Bay Bridge)
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge (commonly known as the Bay Bridge) is a major dual-span bridge in the U.S. state of Maryland. Spanning the Chesapeake Bay, it connects the state’s rural Eastern Shore region with the more urban Western Shore. The original span opened in 1952 and, at the time, with a length of 4.3 miles (6.9 km), it was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. The parallel span was added in 1973. Officially, the bridge is named the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge after William Preston Lane, Jr. who, as governor of Maryland, initiated its construction.
Travel & Leisure ranks the bridge #9 on its list of most scary bridges in the world.
Drivers are notoriously afraid of this bridge, as it’s subjected to frequent—and often violent—storms. And when the bad weather hits, forget about visibility: get to the middle of this five-mile-long bridge and you can barely see land.
San Mateo–Hayward Bridge, California
The San Mateo–Hayward Bridge (commonly called the San Mateo Bridge) is a bridge crossing the U.S. state of California’s San Francisco Bay, linking the San Francisco Peninsula with the East Bay. The bridge’s west end is in Foster City, a suburb on the eastern edge of San Mateo. The east end of the bridge is in Hayward. It is the longest bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area and the 25th longest in the world by length. The bridge is owned by the state of California, and is maintained by Caltrans, the state highway agency. Further oversight is provided by the Bay Area Toll Authority.
At night, it can be difficult to tell where road ends and water begins.
Old Jamestown Bridge, Rhode Island
The Jamestown Bridge, usually referred to as the Old Jamestown Bridge to avoid confusion with its replacement, the new Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge, was a cantilever truss bridge that connected Conanicut Island to mainland North Kingstown, Rhode Island, spanning the West passage of Narragansett Bay. The bridge first opened to traffic in 1940, replacing ferry service as the primary connection for the town of Jamestown, situated on Conanicut Island. It was constructed for just over $3 million 1940 USD, which was paid for by tolls until June 28, 1969. With a total length of 6,892 feet (2,100 m), the Jamestown Bridge was the third longest in Rhode Island at the time of its destruction.
From New York Times:
Robin Boldt never enjoyed driving over the Jamestown Bridge.
“It was a white-knuckle experience,” said Ms. Boldt, 40, a former school bus driver who said she had made the trip over the rickety steel bridge too many times. “On a windy day like today, you’d have your hand on the wheel and just be swerving, hoping you don’t go over the side.”
John F. McCarthy Memorial Bridge, California
(aka Richmond-San Rafael Bridge)
The Richmond–San Rafael Bridge (officially, the John F. McCarthy Memorial Bridge) is the northernmost of the east-west crossings of the San Francisco Bay in California, USA, connecting Richmond on the east to San Rafael on the west end. It opened in 1956, replacing ferry service by the Richmond–San Rafael Ferry Company.
The bridge—including approaches—measures 5.5 miles (29,040 feet / 8,851.39 m / 8.9 km) long. At the time it was built, it was one of the world’s longest bridges. The bridge spans two principal ship channels and has two separate major spans, each of the cantilever type. To save money, both main cantilever sections were designed identically, including the angles, necessitating the “dip” in the central section, giving the bridge a “roller coaster” appearance and also the nickname “roller coaster span”. This appearance has also been referred to as a “bent coat hanger”. After it was completed, many were disappointed by the aesthetics of the low budget bridge, especially when compared to the engineering and historical marvels of the neighboring Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.
In a fog you get the sense that you are just suspended in air.
Vincent Thomas Bridge, California
The Vincent Thomas Bridge is a 1,500-foot (460 m) long suspension bridge, crossing the Los Angeles Harbor in the U.S. state of California, linking San Pedro, Los Angeles, with Terminal Island. The bridge is part of State Route 47. The bridge opened in 1963 and is named for California Assemblyman Vincent Thomas of San Pedro, who championed its construction. It was the first welded suspension bridge in the United States and is now the fourth longest suspension bridge in California and the 76th longest span in the world. The clear height of the navigation channel is approximately 185 feet (56 m); it is the only suspension bridge in the world supported entirely on piles.
Of course the above pale in comparison to:
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, sometimes only the Causeway, is a causeway composed of two parallel bridges crossing Lake Pontchartrain in southern Louisiana, United States. The longer of the two bridges is 23.83 miles (38.35 km) long. The southern terminus of the Causeway is in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. The northern terminus is at Mandeville, Louisiana.
Since 1969, it was listed by Guinness World Records as the longest bridge over water in the world; in 2011 in response to the opening of the allegedly longer Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China, Guinness created two categories for bridges over water: continuous and aggregate lengths over water. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway then became the longest bridge over water (continuous) while Jiaozhou Bay Bridge the longest bridge over water (aggregate).
The bridges are supported by 9,500 concrete pilings. The two bridges feature bascule spans over the navigation channel 8 miles (13 km) south of the north shore.”
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, China
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (or Qingdao Haiwan Bridge) is a 26.7 km (16.6 mi) long roadway bridge in eastern China’s Shandong province, which is part of the 41.58 km (25.84 mi) Jiaozhou Bay Connection Project. As of December 2012, Guinness World Records lists the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge as the world’s “longest bridge over water (aggregate length)” at 41.58 km (25.84 mi).[
The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge transects Jiaozhou Bay reducing the road distance between Qingdao and Huangdao by 30 km (19 mi) compared to the expressway along the coast of the bay. The design of the bridge is T-shaped with the main entry and exit points in Huangdao and the Licang District of Qingdao. A branch to Hongdao Island is connected by a semi-directional “T” interchange to the main span. The construction used 450,000 tons of steel and 2.3 million cubic metres (81×106 cu ft) of concrete. The bridge shall be able to withstand severe earthquakes, typhoons, and collisions with ships. It is supported by 5,238 concrete piles. The cross section consists of two beams in total 35 m (115 ft) wide carrying six lanes with two shoulders.
The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge has three navigable sections: the Cangkou Channel Bridge to the west, the Dagu Channel Bridge to the east, and the Hongdao Channel Bridge to the north. The 600 meters (2,000 ft) long Cangkou Channel Bridge has with 260 m (850 ft) the largest span of the entire Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. The Hongdao Channel Bridge has a span of 120 m (390 ft). The non-navigable sections of the bridge have a span of 60 m (200 ft).