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Kategorien/Categories:    ›EN‹  ›Kultur/Culture‹   –  18.02.2013

One-way bridge with two-way communication

New England still has scores of covered bridges crossing its waterways - they are, in fact, one of the most beloved hallmarks of the region. While they provide users with a brief “back in time” experience, they also require a special form of communication: cooperation.

covered bridge over a riverCovered bridges certainly aren’t exclusive to New England - in fact, you find them around Europe as well, particularly in Switzerland – but nevertheless are one of the most well-known and romantic symbols of the Northeast.  The reason they’re covered is so the roof can protect the wooden bridge structure from the weather, increasing its overall life span by a great deal.

There once were about 10,000 covered bridges in use throughout the US, now there are only 750 left. New Hampshire claims 54 of those, among them the impressive Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. Our neighbor state, Vermont, has nearly twice that number (106) and also houses the only museum dedicated to these wonderful structures (Vermont Covered Bridge Museum).

entry to covered bridgeCrossing a covered bridge is a special experience since they were built during a time when traffic didn’t rush along at today’s breakneck speeds. With few exceptions, most covered bridges are one-way affairs, requiring its users to pay close attention as to whose turn it is to cross. This works amazingly well: even on brides with high traffic frequencies during rush hour, it is rare for two cars to find themselves butting heads in the middle of the bridge. On a covered bridge, courtesy rules.

sign on covered bridgeTo this day, pedestrians have the right of way and the rest of the traffic is expected to match their speed. This sign, seen on the Blair Bridge in southern New Hampshire, is a nice reminder of that old custom. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could expand that idea beyond these lovely structures?!