Beam bridges have been around for many centuries across the world as various civilizations have used them to create formidable crossings for rivers, sounds, and other waterways.
Beam bridges utilize a very simple method of supporting the massive amounts of weight that are often required to hold up bridges of considerable size, but their construction requires significant expertise and skill in architecture and design.
In this article, we will examine 10 of the world’s most famous beam bridges and discuss the architects behind their design.
Famous Beam Bridges
1. Donghai Bridge
The Donghai Bridge is one of the world’s longest man-made structures and is also recognized as one of the longest cross-sea bridges in the world.
It stands above the East China Sea and is often referred to as the East China Sea Bridge among those who reside near the structure, as well as tourists visiting the area.
The Donghai Bridge was designed by a company called the Halcrow Group, which is a world-renowned United Kingdom-based architectural firm.
Construction on the bridge began in 2002 and was completed three years later in 2005 before it was opened to the public.
The Donghai Bridge measures a staggering 20.2 miles in length from one end to the other and is mostly made up of low-level viaduct systems.
It connects Shanghai’s Pudong New Area with the Yangshan Deep-Water Port in Zhejiang.
2. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
One of the most well-known bridges in the eastern half of the United States is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which sits atop the vast Chesapeake Bay.
The bridge was designed by Sverdrup & Parcel, which is a company based out of St. Louis, Missouri. The Sverdrup & Parcel connects access to the Virginia Beach area and the peninsula south of Salsbury, Maryland.
The bridge was commissioned in 1956 and bonds were sold by the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Commission to investors in the project for more than $200 million.
Work began on the project in October of 1960 and the entire Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel would be completed in various stages that was finally finished in 1964.
The bridge measures a whopping 17.6 total miles from end-to-end and it is one of the longest beam bridges in the United States.
3. Tianjin Grand Bridge
Tianjin is a massive coastal city in northern China that’s recognized as having one of the largest populations of any city in the world.
The city is also home to the Tianjin Grand Bridge, which is one of the most notable beam bridges in China. It was initially designed by some of the most brilliant architects working in the People’s Republic of China during the early years of the 21st century.
The project began in 2006 and it took just four years to construct the immensely-long structure that connects the Langfang and Qingxian regions.
The Tianjin Grand Bridge measures an incredible 70.6 miles in total and is one of the longest bridges in the world that carries the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway.
Since its completion in 2010, the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway has become a popular tourist destination in northern China.
4. Manchac Swamp Bridge
The coastal area of the state of Louisiana is well-known for its large marshes, swamps and various waterways that create a vast maze of islands and parishes.
Among the unique culture of coastal Louisiana is one of the most notable beam bridges in the United States, which is known as the Manchac Swamp Bridge.
This bridge is located in a section of the Manchac Swamp that connects St. John the Baptist Parish with Tangipahoa Parish.
The process of planning and constructing the bridge actually took much longer than was initially expected due to the fact that officials who commissioned the project allowed a wide array of expert designers and architects to take part in its design.
Construction began on the Manchac Swamp Bridge in the mid-1970s and it was completed in 1979. The Manchac Swamp Bridge measures roughly 22.8 miles across the seemingly endless swamp.
5. Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge
The Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge is much shorter in overall length than most of the other structures we’ve listed, but it is still recognized as one o the most prominent bridges in the country.
It was commissioned to be constructed by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and certain architects and designers working within this organization planned the project from start to finish.
The Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge was finished in December of 1953 and quickly became a vital resource for those traveling through the area of the Delaware River as it significantly shortened the driving time one would spend crossing the area.
The bridge measures 2,465 feet and is often referred to as the Interstate 80 Toll Bridge today.
6. Albert Memorial Bridge
One of the most iconic beam bridges in the North American continent stands in Canada’s Saskatchewan region over the Wascana Creek in the city of Regina, Saskatchewan.
The bridge is named after Albert Gallatin, a Swedish-born diplomat who was active in many of the United State’s early efforts to settle parts of the midwestern and northern portions of the country.
The Albert Memorial Bridge is known more for infamous aspects than positive historical bits of the area near Wascana Creek in Regina.
The bridge was designed by the architectural firm known as Puntin, O’Leary and Coxall, along with the help of famous engineer Claude A.P. Turner.
The project was initially estimated to cost $100,000, but after many elaborate decorations and other items such as glazed terra-cotta and buffalo head reliefs, the final cost of the bridge ended up being more than $250,000 when it was completed in 1930.
7. Portage Bridge
Another one of the world’s great beam bridges is also located in Canada in Gatineau, Quebec along the Ottawa River.
The Portage Bridge connects drivers, cyclists and pedestrians with easy access from one side of the river to the other and it’s a popular location for photographs, films and tourists visiting the city.
The bridge was designed by the National Capital Commission and work began on the project in the early 1970’s.
It was finished just three years later in 1973 and opened to the public, connecting Laurier Street and Alexandre-Taché Boulevard in the Hull sector of the city.
The Portage Bridge was named after a well-known trail that had been used in the area for many decades in this section of Quebec.
It was rebuilt in 1988 to incorporate more lanes on either side of the roadway crossing the 2,297-foot-long bridge that is used by an average of more than 40,000 visitors each day.
8. Dhola Sadiya Bridge
One of the most famous bridges in India is another structure that is a worthy addition to our list of the most prominent beam bridges in the world.
The Dhola Sadiya Bridge is relatively moderate in length when compared to some of the other popular beam bridges throughout Asia, but it is a key piece of infrastructure that allows many millions of travelers to cross the fast-moving Lohit River each year.
The Dhola Sadiya Bridge was approved by the Indian government in 2009 and work began on the project in 2011.
The bridge construction was done by Navayuga Engineering Company and the project would take slightly longer than architects initially expected, yet it was finished in 2017 and opened to the public. The Dhola Sadiya Bridge measures nearly 5.7 miles.
9. Labajin Bridge
The Labajin Bridge is one of the tallest beam bridge structures in the world that’s designed by carry traffic across the rugged Laba Jin area near Yingjing, which is a small city that’s close to the metropolitan area of Sichuan, China.
The bridge’s height is measured at an astounding 599 feet from the bottom of the gorge to the structure itself.
Work began on the Labajin Bridge in the first few years of the 21st century, but the project dragged on and was finally completed in 2012. Since it was opened to the public that same year, the bridge has become a popular tourist destination.
The Labajin Bridge carries traffic from the G5 Beijing–Kunming Expressway, which delivers millions of travelers across the structure each year.
Not necessarily known for its height or length, but is instead recognized for its peculiar design.
The aptly-named Lego-Brücke bridge is located in Wuppertal, Germany and crosses over the Schwesterstraße. The bridge is known for its design, which incorporates the use of massive concrete blocks that are specially painted and polished to resemble Lego toy blocks.
The bridge was built years ago, but Martin Heuwold made efforts to paint the blocks in such a way as to resemble Lego blocks in 2011, with the permission of Lego A/S.
The unique project garnered national and international attention from those within the art and architecture community. Today, the bridge is a popular tourist destination in Wuppertal.