Vertical-lift bridge

Vertical-lift bridge

An animation showing how a vertical-lift bridge operates with vehicular and shipping traffic
Ancestor Truss bridge,
Related Bascule bridge, swing bridge, folding bridge, retractable bridge
Descendant Submersible bridge, table bridge
Carries Automobile, pedestrians, truck, light rail, heavy rail
Span range Short
Material Steel
Movable Yes
Design effort medium
Falsework required Depends upon degree of prefabrication

A vertical-lift bridge or just lift bridge is a type of movable bridge in which a span rises vertically while remaining parallel with the deck.

The vertical lift offers several benefits over other movable bridges such as the bascule and swing-span bridge. Generally speaking they cost less to build for longer moveable spans.[1] The counterweights in a vertical lift are only required to be equal to the weight of the deck, whereas bascule bridge counterweights must weigh several times as much as the span being lifted. As a result, heavier materials can be used in the deck, and so this type of bridge is especially suited for heavy railroad use.

Although most vertical-lift bridges use towers, each equipped with counterweights, some use hydraulic jacks located below the deck. An example is the 52-foot (16 m) span bridge at St Paul Avenue in Milwaukee[2] (see also table bridges). Another design used balance beams to lift the deck, with pivoting bascules located on the top of the lift towers.[3] An example of this kind was built at La Salle in Illinois, USA.

The biggest disadvantage to the vertical-lift bridge (in comparison with many other designs) is the height restriction for vessels passing under it. This is a result of the deck remaining suspended above the passageway.



The Bridgewater Bridge is one of the last remaining operational vertical-lift bridges in Australia




The Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas's approx. 110-metre (360 ft) lift span is likely the longest in Europe,[4] but that of the Pont Gustave-Flaubert is very nearly as long.


Kattwyk Bridge, in Hamburg, Germany, with its lift span raised


Ponte Due Giugno in Fumicino, Italy


The Botlek bridge in Rotterdam has two lifting spans of 87×50 m (95×55 yd), each with a surface area approaching a football field.[12]


The Netherlands





United Kingdom

United States

Two Erie Canal lift bridges in Lockport, New York, the nearest one shown raised for canal traffic (and closed to road traffic). The pedestrian stairs allow foot traffic to cross the raised span. Initially these bridges normally remained open for canal traffic and closed on demand for the sparse road traffic of the early 20th century.
The Interstate Bridge, on Interstate 5 in Oregon–Washington, is one of only very few opening bridges on the national Interstate Highway System.
The vertical-lift section of the Fourteenth Street Bridge at the east entrance to the Portland Canal in Louisville, Kentucky.

See also


  1. Troyano (2003), p.731
  2. Troyano (2003), p.729
  3. Troyano (2003), p.732
  4. 1 2 3 "Vertical Lift Bridges: Most Important Structures in this Category". Structurae. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  5. Structurae gives a length of 100 m[6]
  6. "Gustave Flaubert Bridge". Structurae. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  7. "6th bridge at Rouen: Pont Gustave Flaubert". Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  8. Today's Railway Europe #1214, p15
  9. "Bordeaux opens new lift bridge". The Connexion. March 18, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  10. "Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge". Structurae. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  11. "33 Tahun Sudah Jembatan Ampera Tak Bisa Naik Turun Lagi". Kompas (in Indonesian). April 19, 2003. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  12. "De nieuwe Botlekbrug: Hefbrug van wereldformaat" [The new Botlek bridge: a lift-bridge of worldly size] (in Dutch). A-Lanes A15. 2012. Retrieved 29 Sep 2014.
  13. Nihon Keizai Shimbun Evening edition 8 December 2008 p.1
  14. "Center of New Bridge Floated Across Arthur Kill on 4 Barges". New York Times. June 1, 1959. Retrieved 2010-09-16. The center of the world's longest vertical lift bridge was floated into place yesterday across the Arthur Kill between Elizabethport, N. J., and Arlington, S. I. ... Section of new BO bridge is moved into position in Arthur Kill behind old ... Kill on 4 Barges. The center of the world's longest vertical lift bridge ...
  15. "The Arthur Kill Bridge.; Arguments For And Against The Proposed Plans". The New York Times. 1888-03-22.
  16. 1 2 Wood Wortman, Sharon; Wortman, Ed (2006). The Portland Bridge Book (3rd Edition). Urban Adventure Press. pp. 119–123. ISBN 0-9787365-1-6.
  17. "The Fairport Lift Bridge". Frank E. Sadowski Jr. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  18. "The Joe Page Bridge". Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  19. "Willamette River (Steel) Bridge" (DOC). Portland Bridges. Oregon Department of Transportation. 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-25.


  • Leonardo Fernandez Troyano (2003). Bridge Engineering: A Global Perspective. Thomas Telford Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7277-3215-6. 

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