The foot of the mountains of Dakeng is a new development area, number 11. It’s currently in that strange limbo phase where there are roads and street furniture, but almost no buildings. The way it works is this; Someone in the city government plans to develop a new area. It doesn’t matter if there is already a glut in housing. He encourages his buddies to buy up the land there while it’s still zoned for agriculture and thus cheap. The city then rezones the land for development and spends a lot money laying out a plan and putting roads down. In Taiwan, planning permission is granted on the basis of how wide the roads are around a property. The wider the road, the higher you can build, and therefore the more the land is worth. The buddies sell the land to developers and get filthy stinking rich.
There are a couple of rivers that run through this area and the city has oh-so thoughtfully added some cycle / pedestrian bridges across them. As a mechanical engineer I immediately notice the strange structure of this bridge. Basically, all the steel above the bridge deck is superfluous. The bridge is supported at both ends and by a pier in the middle, plenty enough to hold it’s weight plus a few cyclists. All the ‘suspension’ steelwork is pointless decoration. Expensive decoration I’m sure.
Close-up, you can see the design is even more bizarre than first meets the eye. The bridge deck crosses the retaining wall at about 2m above the ground and juts out right to the edge of the sidewalk. This is a huge mistake on the part of the designer. How are pedestrians or cyclists supposed to get up to the bridge deck?
You can see that the city has recognized the problem and the contractor has come up with a cheap solution… build four steel ramps to connect the original sidewalk to the bridge. It’s obvious to me that this is a patch, a makeshift solution. You can see the brackets on the retaining wall for the street lights which are now blocked by the ramps, and that the concrete blocks that form the jacks for the bridge ends do not in any way allow for the ramps to connect to them. The ramps are literally a last-minute addition, tacked onto the bridge supports and the sidewalk in a ramshackle sort of way.
Note also that the steel plate surface of the ramp offers barely enough traction to a bicycle tire at the best of times and in the wet will be lethally slippery. Since the ramp completely covers the original sidewalk, any traffic not planning to cross the bridge will either have to climb and descend the ramps, or hop off the curb and onto the road to go around it, mixing pedestrians, cyclist and motorized vehicles on the road. Given that this is a new development area, I’d have hoped the mistakes in the center of town, which force pedestrians onto the road, wouldn’t have been repeated here.
Given the rumored price tag of this bridge was NT$39,000,000 and the construction is both pointlessly expensive and poorly executed, I was quite surprised to see that someone claims credit for this monument to government waste in the form of this stone plaque.
Personally I’d have tried to hide any and all involvement with this white elephant!