No matter what the size of a bridge is, it represents the design philosophy of the team of engineers behind them. This is perhaps the reason, a famous expression, “You’re only as good as your last bridge” is used for civil engineers who are working in the field. Looking at the historical evolution of bridges reveals the development of engineering and practices which improved over the centuries and became more refined and efficient. The final result is indeed more improved than the past.
An example of a bridge which brings nostalgia is built in the Sandys Parish section of Bermuda called the Somerset Bridge. This bridge is known as the narrowest bridge in the world and received the Guinness Book of World Records distinction. The centuries-old bridge is an example of a historic structure which is still being used today. The bridge gets a consistent flow of traffic, and even though many sections of the bridge were replaced over the years, its basic structure is still the same as it was when it was first created.
The bridge connects the main island of Bermuda to Somerset Island. It was built in 1620 and the passage measures only 56cm. The drawbridge is fully functioning. However, an 81cm wooden plank passing through the center of the bridge must be manually adjusted to allow for the passage of the masts of sailboats. The bridge is both a tourist attraction and a source of national pride and draws many people to Bermuda. Michael Fahy, the Royal Gazette Bermuda Minister of Tourism, Transport, and Municipalities, said, “Somerset Bridge is an iconic structure in Bermuda and is known internationally as the smallest drawbridge in the world. It is emblematically Bermudian and appears on the back of the new Bermudian $5 note. By listing it as a Grade HM or historical Monument Listed Building, it ensures the protection of the structure for years to come.”
The drawbridge feature of the Somerset Bridge has similarity to old architecture. Apart from the added costs associated with maintaining the wood for safety purposes, the advantages of timber as a load-bearing structure also involves the fact that the source is renewable and there are some methods which can be used to obtain raw material sustainably. It is also noticeable that Glulam or Glue Laminated Timber is becoming an alternative to some costly material alternatives like steel or concrete. The beauty of engineering is that the bridge has found a balance between new innovations and old architecture.