Overpass: Dream or reality?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I love a beautiful and well considered bridge!

Foster's Millau viaduct is so beautiful it is as if it floats on the clouds!

Indeed, the designers amongst us imagine them as streamlined and un-cluttered, perhaps with translucent edge zones, no barriers or signs, no streetlights, slender support structures that simply branch out of the ground… They are perhaps so ‘light’ they hardly cast a shadow so that the ground under can sustain luxuriant gardens.

An idealized view perhaps?

Unfortunately, a few things can go wrong with overpasses (or tunnels for that point)…

Learning from San Fernando?

or Kobe?

We’re lucky we have great engineers who have learned a thing or two from these epic fails, but history tells us that the next earthquake will teach future engineers new lessons

And then positioning is yet another issue (placement at the end of a key vista is a topic for another discussion).

Too low's no good...

... and too high might not help either.

Lucky they can be useful in times of disaster as they were in New Orleans.

With the tide in and...

for the homeless, when the waters receded.

Perhaps if we look for simple examples closer to home we can begin to see how they may actually look in reality with: their signage, fringed in razor wire; high crash control barriers; lampposts and ground underneath that is so dry and dark it can barely sustain any life as we know it.

Thorndon overbridge

razor wire encrusted signs on our overpasses.

If an overpass is the right answer for us we need to stop fooling around with idealized imagery and design to consider the [safety] ‘improvements’ that litter our highways.

The NZTA team has some great designers amongst them but are they being used to tell a misleading story? There’s a growing opinion that suggests this might be the case..

 

You decide!

 

 


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Posted under: Basin Reserve issues, News, RANTING, Transport, Uncategorized, urban design | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Overpass: Dream or reality?”

  1. Peter B Says:

    Thanks for that – some really good images of why I’m not that keen on having an overpass zipping over the Basin. From what I’ve seen at NZTA’s travelling roadshow, most of the thought so far has gone into the provision of a traffic solution – not much has gone into the thinking of what it would be like under that overpass, or besides it. Certainly it would be an alien element in the landscape: not really welcome to me, in the city that I call home.

  2. IKBrunel Says:

    A bridge in the right place can be, if well designed, a thing of beauty. What on Earth makes the NZTA think a bridge, no matter how beautifully it is designed, is appropriate across the end of the twin Terraces?

  3. Norm Says:

    regarding your comment on the Millau Viaduct:
    “Foster’s Millau viaduct is so beautiful it is as if it floats on the clouds! Indeed, the designers amongst us imagine them as streamlined and un-cluttered, perhaps with translucent edge zones, no barriers or signs, no streetlights, slender support structures that simply branch out of the ground… They are perhaps so ‘light’ they hardly cast a shadow so that the ground under can sustain luxuriant gardens.”

    A good quality designer is the key to the success of the bridge…
    The Millau Viaduct roadway weighs 36,000 tonnes and is 2,460m long, 32m wide by 4.2m deep, with each of the 6 central spans reaching 342m. As the road deck is some 270m above the ground (the 12th highest bridge in the world), the side barriers on this bridge do have to be extremely strong to resist the force of a truck smashing its way through the barrier. The fact that you can hardly see these barriers in the photo is more an effect of the large size of the bridge, rather than the featherlight, translucent nature of the barriers themselves. Please be rest assured that the barriers are large structural members, and that view out for the driver was not the over-riding concern: safety was of the utmost importance.

  4. Chicago painter Says:

    I love bridges. Two months ago I was Golden Gate. Amazing. Amazing….

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