Water bridges are impressive feats of civil engineering. For the uninitiated, water bridges are bridge-like structures that carry navigable waterway canals over other rivers, valleys, railways, or roads.
These navigable aqueducts are primarily distinguished by their size and have a long history, that dates back to the 17th century. Today we're are going to look and some of the most impressive water bridges across the world.
1. The Lune Aqueduct
Built at three times the estimated cost the British government had originally set, the Lune Aqueduct was constructed in 1797 for over £48,000. It is 664 feet long (202 meters), 20 feet wide (6 meters), 61 feet high (18 meters), and carries the Lancaster Canal over the River Lune in Lancaster, United Kingdom.
Designed by the civil engineer John Rennie in 1794, the Lune aqueduct is an example of contour canal construction. It features rusticated and ashlar sandstone masonry, curved wing walls, substantial projecting cornices, and partly-balustraded parapets.
2. The Edstone Aqueduct
The Edstone is the longest cast-iron aqueduct in England and is one of the three aqueducts that run along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, located in Warwickshire. Built between 1812-1816, this structure is approximately 475 feet (144 meters) in length. The Edstone aqueduct is a massive iron trough that is carried by 13 tapering brick piers over 20 feet high and capped with dressed stone. Interestingly, there was once a pipe from the side of the canal that enabled locomotives to draw water to fill their tanks.
3. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Located in Wrexham County, Wales, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen canal across the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen. It was completed in 1805 and is the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest canal aqueduct in the world. The aqueduct canal was designed by civil engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop for a location near an 18th-century road crossing, Pont Cysyllte, from where the water overpass gets its name.
It’s 1000 feet long (304 meters), 11 feet wide (3.3 meters), and 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) deep. The Pontcysyllte rises 126 feet (38 meters) above the river, using support pillars, and is an architectural heritage site. Similar to other entries on the list, the 18-arched stone and cast-iron structure is used bay narrowboats.
4. Avon Aqueduct
Completed in 1821, the Avon Aqueduct is the longest and tallest of its kind in Scotland and the second-longest in the UK. It’s 810 feet (246 meters) long, 50 feet (15 meters) wide, and 86 feet (26 meters) high. Located in Linlithgow, Scotland, this bridge crosses the River Avon and carries the Union canal.
The aqueduct was built by Hugh Baird and Thomas Telford. The design of this navigable canal was considered to be one of the most innovative engineering feats of its time. Today you can ride across the canal and explore the nearby Muiravonside Country Park and the stunning surrounding countryside.
5. The Barton Road Swing Bridge
Built-in 1894, the Barton Swing Aqueduct is the only swing aqueduct in the world, and was considered a feat of Victorian engineering. It is located in Greater Manchester England and connects the Bridgewater canal to the Manchester ship canal. Its innovative design allows large boats to pass underneath and small boats to pass over. Its length is 195 feet (59 meters). and its width is 18 feet (5 meters). Designed by Sir Edward Leader Williams and built by Andrew Handyside and Company of Derby, the swing aqueduct opened in 1894 and remains in regular use.
6. The Briare Aqueduct
This aqueduct located in Briare, France crosses the Loire River and carries the Canal Latéral à la Loire. It’s the second-longest navigable aqueduct in the world and was opened in 1896. The bridge is 2,172 feet (662 meters) long, 18 feet (5.4 meters) wide, and 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep. The water bridge replaced a river-level crossing from the canal to meet the Briare Canal that was hazardous in times of flood. The Briare Aqueduct is built on fourteen piers supported by a single steel beam. The entire structure contains more than 13,000 tonnes of water.
7. The Ringvaart Aqueduct
Located in the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, Ringvaart Aqueduct is the oldest in the Netherlands. It was built in 1961, however, two new portions were completed in 2006, making the new length 5905 feet (1799 meters). The circular canal forms the boundary of the Dutch Haarlemmermeer municipality.
8. The Veluwemeer Aqueduct
The Veluwemeer Aqueduct connects the mainland of Hardeerwijk with Flevoland, the largest artificial island in the world. It’s 82 feet (24 meters) long, 62 feet (18.8 meters) wide, and 9 feet (3 meters) deep, and was completed in 2002. Small boats can pass through it and there are footpaths located on either side for pedestrians. An impressive 28,000 vehicles pass under it each day. In addition to allowing small boats to pass with ease, pedestrian walkways on both sides allow for foot traffic.
9. The Krabbersgat Naviduct
The Krabbersgat, near Enkhuizen, The Netherlands, is a unique naviduct waterway with locks at both ends. The naviduct is constructed in a specially designed polder (a low-lying tract of land surrounded by dikes), 1640 feet (500 meters) long and 525 feet (160 meters) wide. Both locks are 125 meters long, and have a width of 12.5. Special waterproof concrete was used for the locks, and they are designed to operate without the need for maintenance. It opened in 2003 and cost €55 million before taxes to construct. It is the only operational naviduct in the world.
10. Magdeburg Water Bridge
The Magdeburg Water Bridge is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world and is 3012 feet (918 meters) long, 112 feet (34 meters) wide, 14 feet (4 meters) deep, and 2264 feet (690 meters) overland. It opened in 2003 and connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal.
11. Håverud Aqueduct
This navigable aqueduct is considered to be one of the greatest engineering achievements of its day. Completed in mid the 1860s, the aqueduct could not be completed using a traditional lock, owing to local soil conditions. As a consequence, a 100 foot (30 meters) long metal chute was constructed which traversed the Dalsland Waterfall, in Sweden.
Have you ever ridden on a navigable aqueduct? Which one is the most impressive?