Bridges are supposed to be ugly

Several questions come to mind while absorbing the story of the bridge that needs a facelift:

Why is the facade crumbling on a new bridge? How much did the beauty mask cost? Is it going to be fixed? If so, how much will that cost?

I think I’ll go on. Which contractors and state bureaucrats will take responsibility for this cosmetic malpractice? Will their backsides be held to the fire? And why should taxpayers have confidence in state transportation chiefs when they order up cosmetology for bridges and then see the facade sculpting botched? Why didn’t they plant some trees instead?

Well, my main question is, why are we even spending money to make bridges look pretty? IT’S A BRIDGE. It’s an already too expensive pile of concrete and rebar. It does not need to look good. It needs to hold up stuff.

With the economy in the tank, millions of people going without health insurance and our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq needing bullets and armor, we’d better quit throwing money at ugly bridges.

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6 Responses to Bridges are supposed to be ugly

  1. laytonian says:

    I thought the concrete facade was there to hold the dirt together. …because bridge approaches are now straight up-and-down to save space, rather than spread-out dirt.

    (I’m obviously not a construction expert….)

    Don’t those blocks have hidden protrusions that are purposely there to keep the compacted earth from leaking out?

    What I find silly are those cartoons being added UNDER the freeway bridges to advertise the Olympics….or proclaim something special about Riverdale. (Anyone else see that on the new I-84 underpass?)
    Not only are they ugly, but they’re going to have to be maintained…and since they’re in the dark, who sees them?

  2. Neal Humphrey says:

    Well, a highway overpass is a bridge, no question about that. And overpasses are typically utilitarian and often unsightly. But bridges are often strikingly beautiful in how the engineering and architecture combine with the basic function of spanning whatever obstacle the bridge crosses. My personal favorites are:

    The Chengyang (Wind and Rain) Bridge in China, what might be the most remarkable covered bridge in the world.

    The Millau Bridge, Tarn Valley, France, breathtaking.

    And, of course, the Golden Gate.

  3. flatlander100 says:

    I kind of like the idea of the decorative panels Utah lines its interstate overpasses and similar urban overpasses with. Ditto the decorative sound walls along urban sections of interstate. Nothing says urban infrastructure has to be ugly. The question is, I think, not what are the decorative panels doing there in the first place but: why are they buckling and falling off so soon?

  4. Mark Shenefelt says:

    If the Kaysville Chamber of Commerce wants a decorative bridge, it should donate for it. Same goes with other bridges and overpasses. Uncle Sam, Cousin Herbert and our wallets shouldn’t be forking over for it. But I think local chambers probably can find more productive uses for their cash.

    Here’s just another example from today’s news on why frills need to go on transportation projects:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/beset_by_money_woes_i5_bridge.html

  5. Flatlander100 says:

    MS:

    Sorry, but the example you offer with the link is not a good one. We’re not talking overblown projects, planned well beyond the funding capacity of the governments that will have to build them. That’s what went on with the Columbia River project. We’re talking relatively small-cost inclusion of, say, design elements on sound barriers that people will spend the next two decades driving past as opposed to bare cinder blocks. Urban environments are gritty enough that I think a little tucking up around the edges, and a design feature here and there are well worth including. Your Columbia River Bridge example doesn’t involve that.

    We’re disagreeing, I think, mostly over your apparent belief that urban environments necessarily have to be ugly. No, they don’t.

  6. cruiser says:

    Okay most of the points in this debate are valid. I agree that for a little extra cost we can make our habitat pleasing to the eye, but when that decorative addition starts to crack and fall so soon after being built, then the contractor that was awarded the job should repair the damage, out of their own pocket. If in this case it was UDOT then no the citizans should not have to pay for it a second time, they need to rearrange their budgets to fix their mistake.

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