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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

More Bridges, Please

To the Editors:

I have always looked forward to reading Henry Petroski's columns, especially the ones he writes about famous bridges ("The Cantilever," Engineering, September-October). As a native of Michigan, I was very disappointed that he did not write a column on the Mackinac Bridge, which in 2007 celebrated its 50th anniversary. This bridge was not only a significant engineering and construction achievement that linked Michigan's two peninsulas, but it also dramatically altered the history and development of Michigan.

Built in an era when it was politically only a state issue and located in a sometimes severe-weather area near no major population centers, the opening of the bridge in 1957 was a remarkable achievement. Probably more than half of Michigan's citizens believed it could not be done.

When completed it was the longest suspension bridge (between anchorages) in the world and is still one of the longest. The bridge carries more car traffic in one month than the car-ferry fleet it replaced did in one year. Famous bridge designer Dr. David Steinman risked over $200,000 of his own money to help finance the design.

An excellent history of the bridge, including the politics, financing, construction and the car-ferry fleet the bridge superseded, is available in the July-August 2007 issue of Michigan History

Robert B. Dick
Cincinnati, OH


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