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Watch an Entire Bridge Get Built In a 3-Year Time Lapse

Cue the Philip Glass for this entrancing footage of a Pennsylvania bridge being born.

While here at The Atlantic Cities we prefer to cover large structures being blown up (OK, maybe just me), every once in a while it's nice to see one getting erected. And when the thing getting built is a bridge, over the course of three years, the lasting impression is allllmost as satisfying.

This is the Monongahela River Bridge, the latest completion in the Mon/Fayette Expressway project managed by the Pennsylvania and West Virginia transportation departments. The bridge crosses the Monongahela (motto: "where banks cave in or erode") near Brownsville, itself located about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. It's part of a larger infrastructure endeavor meant to help the Mon Valley economically recover after the coal and coke industries imploded in the 1980s.

Thanks to somebody's judicious thinking, a webcam mounted near the river caught daily shots of the bridge construction from Nov. 2009 all the way to June. (Current cam.) It's kind of neat seeing how a bridge gets born, section by section. Perhaps in 70 years, when it's rusting and decrepit, we'll be able to bring you footage of it getting blown to smithereens.

Time-Lapse of Mon River Bridge Construction (2 Minute) from Rhonda Smeltzer on Vimeo.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.