U.S. Bridges: The Bias Towards Mediocrity

by Rowland Richards, Jr., Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; State Univ. of New York, Buffalo, N.Y.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1983, Vol. 53, Issue 4, Pg. 62-66

Document Type: Feature article


This article contends that in this century the United States has lost its leadership in bridge design and explores reasons why this came to be. Comparative examples of various bridge types are presented and some human factors, primarily the legal conventions of bridge construction in this country and other disincentives, are proposed to explain in part what the author sees as the general mediocrity of current bridge design in the United States. New initiatives are also noted. As remedies, the author recommends a reawakening of the adventurous spirit in finding creative new solutions to design problems, as well as new ways of doing business. The article is profusely illustrated with photos of domestic and foreign bridges.

Subject Headings: Bridge design | Infrastructure construction | Bridges | Human factors | Leadership | Comparative studies | Legal affairs | United States

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