Moveable bridge

A moveable bridge is a bridge that moves to allow passage for (usually) boats or barges.[1] An advantage of making bridges movable include lower price, due to the absence of high piers and long approaches. The principal disadvantage is that the traffic on the bridge must be halted when it is opened for passages. For seldom-used railroad bridges over busy channels, the bridge may be left open and then closed for train passages. For small bridges, bridge movement may be enabled without the need for an engine. Some bridges are operated by the users, especially those with a boat, others by a bridgeman; a few remotely using video-cameras and loudspeakers. Generally, the bridges are powered by electric motors, whether operating winches, gearing, or hydraulic pistons. While moveable bridges in their entirety may be quite long, the length of the moveable portion is restricted by engineering and cost considerations to a few hundred feet.

There are often traffic lights for the road and water traffic, and moving barriers for the road traffic.

In the United States, regulations governing the operation of moveable bridges, for example, hours of operation and how much advance notice must be given by water traffic, are listed in title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations;[2] temporary deviations are published in the Coast Guard's Local Notice to Mariners.[3]


Types of moving bridges

  • Drawbridge - the bridge deck is hinged on one end
  • Bascule bridge - a drawbridge hinged on pins with a counterweight to facilitate raising
  • Folding bridge - a drawbridge with multiple sections that collapse together horizontally
  • Curling bridge - a drawbridge with multiple sections that curl vertically
  • Vertical-lift bridge - the bridge deck is lifted up by counterweighted cables mounted on towers
  • Table bridge - a lift bridge with the lifting mechanism mounted underneath it
  • Retractable bridge (Thrust bridge) - the bridge deck is retracted to one side
  • Rolling bascule bridge - an unhinged drawbridge lifted by the rolling of a large gear segment along a horizontal rack
  • Submersible bridge - also called a ducking bridge, the bridge deck is lowered down into the water
  • Tilt bridge - the bridge deck, which is curved and pivoted at each end, is lifted up at an angle
  • Swing bridge - the bridge deck rotates around a fixed point, usually at the center, but may resemble a gate in its operation
  • Transporter bridge - a structure high above carries a suspended, ferry-like structure
  • Jet bridge - a passenger bridge to an airplane. One end is mobile with height, yaw, and tilt adjustments on the outboard end

Visual index of moving bridges


  • April 23, 1853 – Rancocas Creek, New Jersey: Engineer of Camden & Amboy's 2 p.m. train out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania missed stop signals and ran his train off an open drawspan at Rancocas Creek. There were no fatalities.
  • September 15, 1958 - Elizabethport, New Jersey: Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) commuter train #3314 from Bay Head Junction to Jersey City ran a stop signal and an open derail protecting the Newark Bay 4-span lift bridge, and the train's two diesel locomotives and two of five passenger cars went into Newark Bay through one of the open spans. Four crewmen, including the engineer and fireman, and 44 passengers died by drowning.

See also


  1. ^ Schneider, C.C. Moveable Bridges, Proceeding of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volume 33, Part 1, Page 154.
  2. ^ "2005 CFR Title 33, Volume 1". Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  3. ^ "Local Notice to Mariners - USCG Navigation Center". USCG. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 

External links

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