Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Superman Signature Bridge

Howard Maier, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency, recently sketched a whimsical drawing of a new signature bridge to replace the Innerbelt Bridge, where the iconic element is Superman, astride the deck, holding fistfuls of cable stays in his hands. The idea was to honor the Man of Steel in his birthplace, the City of Steel, as other supporters of Superman have been trying to realize.

I'm sure it's a well-received slide for his presentations, but it got me wondering how feasible it would be.

The current Innerbelt Bridge is 95 feet above the Cuyahoga, so let's say the new one has to be at least 100 high. Using the proportions of the ideal human body, which Superman certainly should be, we find that the middle of the figure's thighs should be 3/8 of the total height. If the deck is passing mid-thigh on Superman, that means he'd be 267 feet high overall. The Statue of Liberty is 151 feet high, without the pedestal, the Colossus of Rhodes of ancient wonder was 107 feet high, the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall, the Terminal Tower is 708 feet high, and St. Louis' Gateway Arch is 630 feet high. One structure the same size was the original Ferris Wheel at Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, at 260 feet, so Superman would certainly stand out, as Howard's drawing suggests, but not necessarily be impossible to construct.

Back to the ideal proportions, a figure that tall would have arms about 116 feet in length, hanging down to about the bridge deck. Angled out 45 degrees to either side, the span from one fist to the other would be some 164 feet and they would be 34 feet above the deck. I'm no bridge designer (and my trig may not even be up to this challenge), but I wonder if these fists would be in a position to properly support the river span section. Maybe a civil engineer will tell us.

Superman's crotch would be 33 feet above the deck, so the federal standards for minimum overhead clearance of 17 feet is no issue. I doubt that there'd be any way to save the cape, however.

I'm sure this would be far more interesting than anything ODOT has planned for the bridge.

Labels: , , , , ,


At 5:29 PM, Blogger Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I like it, a lot more that I might have thought I would.


Post a Comment

<< Home