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The Humber Bridge, Kingston, England

June 10th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Humber Bridge is the fourth-largest single-span suspension bridge in the world, near Kingston upon Hull in England. It spans the Humber (the estuary formed by the rivers Trent and Ouse) between Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank and Hessle on the north bank, connecting the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

Plans for a bridge were originally drawn up in the 1930s, and were revised in 1955, but work did not begin until July 26, 1972. The bridge was finally opened officially by the Queen on 17 July 1981. The consulting engineers for the project were Freeman Fox & Partners (now Hyder).

With a centre span of 1,410 metres (4,626 ft) and a total length of 2,220 metres (7,283 ft), the Humber Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years.

The bridge's surface takes the form of a dual carriageway with a lower-level footpath on both sides, although traffic is often restricted to one lane both ways. There is a permanent 50mph speed limit on the full length of the bridge.

Each tower consists of a pair of hollow vertical concrete columns, each 155.5 metres (510 ft) tall and tapering from 6 metres square at the base to 4.5 x 4.75 metres at the top. The bridge is designed to tolerate constant motion and bends more than three metres in winds of 80 mph (36 m/s). The towers, although both vertical, are not parallel, being 36 mm further apart at the top than the bottom as a result of the curvature of the earth.

The north tower is on the bank, and has foundations down to 8 metres (26 ft). The south tower is in the water, and descends to 36 metres (118 ft) as a consequence of the shifting sandbanks that make up the estuary.

There is enough wire in the suspension cables to circle the Earth nearly twice.

The bridge held the record for the world's longest single-span suspension bridge for 16 years from its opening in June 1981 until the opening of the Great Belt Bridge in June 1997 and was relegated to third place with the opening of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in April 1998. It is now the fourth longest single-span suspension bridge after Runyang Bridge (China) which opened in 2005.

The road-distance between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by nearly 50 miles as a consequence of the bridge. Prior to the bridge opening, commuters would go from one bank to the other either by using the ferry that ran from Hull to New Holland, Lincolnshire or driving via the M62, M18 and M180 motorways, crossing the River Ouse near Goole (connected to the Humber) in the process. There was also a hovercraft service. Minerva and Mercury were used very briefly between Hull Pier and Grimsby Docks from 17 February 1968 to 21 October 1968, they both suffered mechanical failure at very regular intervals.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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