To Bridges and Those Who Build Them

Bridges Article December 28, 2000
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In November 1984, the then ROADS Magazine published its first section devoted to bridge issues. The issue foreshadowed the magazine's name change and more clearly placed bridge design and construction at the forefront of the magazine's coverage. Twelve months later, in November 1985, the magazine now known as ROADS & BRIDGES presented its second special section on the bridge
market, titled Bridges '86.

This issue of ROADS & BRIDGES marks the 13th consecutive year that our November issue is for the greater part dedicated to bridge design, construction and rehabilitation.

Thought and Artistry

Bridges are built by engineers, people who at the same time mix precise thought and calculation with the imagination of an artist. One such engineer is profiled in our pages. Dr. Christian Menn is the recipient of the 11th John A. Roebling Award from the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, hosts of the International Bridge Conference held each June in Pittsburgh.

Upon arriving from Switzerland to accept his award along with his wife, Dr. Menn, a tall slender distinguished man, was humble and appreciative. He acknowledged those bridge designers that had come before him. He paid homage to Roebling, a native of Pittsburgh, and expressed his admiration of his work.

During an interview with him from his home in Switzerland following the award presentation, I told him that in my conversations with some of his fellow engineers at the bridge conference he had been placed in the category of that of a living legend. I could feel his embarrassment through the phone lines as he shyly replied, "No, no I am just a man." With more than 40 years of bridge engineering and countless bridges to his credit, as well as a book on his bridges soon to be published, his response was refreshing.

Bridges are probably the most beautiful and inspirational elements that exist in the highway construction field. This is why, as an editor, bridge stories are among the most pleasant assignments to cover and photograph. I think many engineers must feel the same from a design perspective.

Dr. Menn may have put it best in his comparison of bridge and building design. He said, "When you design bridges you are absolutely free in your design...And also, bridges are more attractive."

We agree, Dr. Menn, and thanks.

About the author: 
Flynn is Editor of Roads & Bridges
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