Bridges to Nowhere comes in many different configurations and permutations, some of them are basically excusable, for instance bridges that have been partially destroyed in a war, some were built as a form of future proofing with vague plans of roads and other infrastructure coming later on, other’s are just stupid prestige projects.
One good example of the stupid prestige project is the Russky Bridge in Vladivostok in, you guessed it, Russia. Build to connect Vladivostok with, again perfectly obvious, Russky Island.
It cost roughly a billion US$ or so, with a rough capacity of some fifty thousand cars per day, the problem? Oh right, Russky island have like five thousand people living on it.
Reason for failure: I suppose it didn’t fail for the companies that built the overprice useless bridge nor the politician that could point to a big shiny monstrosity. It did fail the people of Russia, as it was utterly and totally useless, built really just to impress foreign dignitaries at some conference no one remembers anymore.
Another example of a prestige project is the Saint Elmo’s Bridge in Valletta, Malta, played as a restoration project of a bridge destroyed by the Italians during World War Two, it just goes to a breakwater and a lighthouse, utterly pointless beyond the tourist value and the deck keeps getting damaged, so closure happens with tiresome regularity.
Whole project cost 2,8 million €, seems kinda pricey, but hey, URBAN RENEWAL, URBAN RENEWAL! ARGHH!
Yeah, the Miles Glacier Bridge was originally a railroad bridge, constructed for the purpose of transporting copper from a mine inland to the Alaskan coast, after the depression the copper prices crashed and rendered the line to expensive to maintain.
The railroad fell apart, the bridge was actually re-purposed as a road bridge, however, the road on the far-side basically didn’t exist and a flood damaged one of the truss sections, so now it is a Bridge to Nowhere, however again, it did actually pay itself off, it cost 1.4 million US$ to built back in 1910 and around 200 million US$ worth of copper was extracted before it all went to shit.
So it wasn’t a total waste.
The Yalu River Broken Bridge was blown up in World War Two and the North Koreans dismantled their side of the Bridge, probably because the it was right next to the bridge you can see in the background of the above picture.
The Chinese turned their side into a historical landmark.
In a valiant attempt to actually do something good for the poor sods in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China built a very pretty bridge with all the infrastructure and shiny shit needed.
On their side, the Koreans built a small gravel path linking the bridge to: NOWHERE.
Sure, Xi Jinping has promised that his government will now pay for the infrastructure on the Korean side too, because he basically has to do everything for the utterly broken North Korean economy.
There’s been bridges in both Norway and New Zealand with the same story, built to serve areas that didn’t get populated at all and now simply remain as curiosities for random people out for a nice walk in the countryside.
Germany had a motorway bridge that was built in 1966 but wasn’t actually connected until 1994, frankly, that was a bit to much planning, the maintenance cost of keeping that around for that long probably wasn’t worth it.
Bridges to Nowhere are delightful little stories, often failure, sometimes grand conspiracies and sometimes cute.