Bridges

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The longest bridge in the world is 102.4 miles long. It took 10,000 workers and just 4 years to build. It’s in China,  a railroad bridge called the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge.

The world’s longest highway bridge, a six-lane elevated expressway, is 34-miles, the Bang Na in Thailand. It contains more than 9 billion 500 million pounds of concrete.

But not to be left behind, in the United States, the longest highway bridge in the world over water is in New Orleans, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It’s so long that eight of its 24 miles can’t be seen from land.

By contrast, Jamestown’s South Main Street Bridge is smaller than a regulation NBA basketball court. It is just 45 feet wide and 65 feet long, shorter than an average 18-wheel truck.

But that is a pretty important 3,000 square feet of asphalt, rock and concrete. Since its building in 1920, it can be estimated that it has carried 1 billion 130 million tons of commerce – cars, trucks, busses and probably even a few horse-drawn wagons, and the people and goods in them – between the northern and southern sides of the Chadakoin River, from one side of Jamestown to the other, and much of it from New York to Pennsylvania and back.

The importance of a bridge is not its length or height, but what it connects.

Radio broadcaster and author, Earl Nightingale, once told a listener that, “Your problem is to bridge the gap that exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”

Our old friend, the South Main Street Bridge, has connected people, goods, neighborhoods and friends to each other for a century – as did its lesser-known wooden predecessor – and is only now having its first major overhaul. And, by the way, if you think it deserves a fancier name, you can call it by its New York State bridge ID: NY 2258360. Much catchier, right?

Next time you grumble about the long trek around the downtown detour take just a moment to thank whoever built that bridge, and even more, the people now working to keep that vital connection alive and thriving for many more years to come.

Bridges are easy to take for granted… even to ignore. But bridges are more than steel and concrete. We build bridges to cross all kinds of spaces between things that need to be connected. Have you inspected any of yours lately?

Jim Rohn, a highly successful 20th century direct-sales entrepreneur, once told an audience, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

But we don’t only build bridges, do we? I like what Australian Supercar Champ, David Russell said. “The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”

So, for this week, I hope you don’t have too many bridges to burn, a few more good ones to build and maybe even one or two worth repairing… and especially, once again, I hope that you enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.