The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 4 (1926) > Issues > Issue 1 > What to do with our Bridges 1. The Old Bridges
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What to do with our Bridges 1. The Old Bridges

It is too often forgotten that England is a country of bridges, and has been so since Elizabethan times. There were about nine hundred of them by the middle of the seventeenth century. Are these nine hundred still with us? Alas, their numbers must by now be very sensibly reduced, and that not because of any inherent defects, but because we of the twentieth century insist that our roads and bridges shall carry burdens which eighty years ago would only have been entrusted to a specially constructed track of steel. As the volume of modern traffic swells, one bridge after another becomes inadequate both in size and strength; too narrow, that is, to contain it, and too weak to support it. What is to be done? Shall it be widened, or strengthened, or both, or neither? Such, in brief, is the choice open to those whose duty it is to provide smooth and ample roads and bridges for the thousands of internal combustion vehicles that daily troop forth from American and European factories. It is not an enviable task; to some it may seem a never-ending one comparable to that upon which poor Sisyphus was (and perhaps is still) engaged. What width must the widening add, what strength the strengthening? Is it enough if they serve the need of today, or must they be prepared for that of to-morrow, and perchance the day after, too? Roads and bridges that once were wide are already narrow, and will be narrower still in a few years' time. Christian Barman