February 25, 2016
Cousin Annelise was recently telling me about her trip from Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden, and although I was very interested to hear all about her adventures, I just could not get over her description of the Øresundsbroen or Öresundsbron (Oresund Bridge, depending on which side you’re on). This broen/bron (bridge) spanning nearly 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) across the Øresund Strait, is an expansive feat of engineering that connects the two countries. It is so magnificent that I was completely enamored and had to watch this National Geographic video on amazing bridges to see it with my own eyes. It is fascinating!
With passenger and freight needs between the countries increasing exponentially since the early 20th century, a link between Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen (the largest city in Scandinavia) and Sweden’s third largest city of Malmö seemed certain. Yet, how it would come to be was the question.
With air and ship traffic the biggest concerns, the bridge had to be high-traffic and tall enough to let ships pass beneath (draw-bridge out of the question), sturdy enough to hold train tracks (suspension bridge nixed), yet could not interfere with flight traffic at the international Copenhagen Airport. It was an engineering conundrum.
Construction began on the Øresund in 1995 and completed in 1999, however the bridge did not officially open until 2000. The end-result is an amazing five-mile cable-stayed bridge running from the Swedish coast to the manmade island of Peberholm in the middle of the strait. It then descends below the strait via the Drogden Tunnel for another two miles to the Danish island of Amager. An estimated 60,000 people pass over it each day, making it a significant thoroughfare in Europe, and a marvelous engineering structure that can actually be seen from space!
When you really think about it, bridges are an astonishingly important part of history, as well as our daily lives today. Their convenience is unmatched, getting us from point A to point B in the blink of an eye. They lead us where we need to go, uniting families and making travel much easier than it once was.
In addition to many of these structures being engineering masterpieces, they serve a purely functional purpose. Bridges are the lifeblood of a country. They provide function and convenience by transporting goods and people. How else would you get those shiny grapes, apples and tomatoes in the dead of winter, or those packages delivered right to your door? Additionally, how different would your daily commute be without them? Much of the goods that sustain our daily life are transported across bridges, viaducts and overpasses each and every day.
Bridges not only expedite our lives in so many ways, but they connect us all on a personal and cultural level as well. A broen or bron is a structure built to link two points, yet it is also a metaphor for the connection forged between people and cultures. Just as Mormor is a bridge to my family history and traditions, cousin Annelise is a bridge to my Danish heritage. It seems that constructing a link between two points is more astonishing than I had ever imagined.
Cult hit Broen/Bron (“The Bridge”) is Scandinavia’s biggest television crime show. Launched in 2011, the opening scene takes place on the Øresund Bridge (thus, the name). It is reported that fan Bob Dylan will be making an appearance on The Bridge this season.
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