The engineers who designed the new swinging bridge in Souris left out one important thing – the swing. The “attraction” to this site is that the bridge moves as you walk across it, it responds to your presence and gives you a little thrill because it is so dangerous and fun. It isn’t fixed, it swings!
I visited the new bridge on a hot August day as workmen sodded and landscaped the east end of the structure. A few visitors took pictures and grinned at each other. As I walked closer to the centre of the bridge I realized it wasn’t responding to me or to anyone. At the centre I rocked my body back and forth to get a response out of the bridge but it barely moved. Its footings are pulled so taut, its cables so rigid that it feels like you are walking on a wooden sidewalk not across a river. There was no fun, no danger, not even a little faux danger. I felt safe. It was boring!
I asked two people at Hillcrest Museum next to the bridge about the cost. A codger minding an amazing roomful of tools said about $3.5 million. The bored girl working out her summer contract on the museum porch nodded and agreed to the figure. She said the bridge lights up at night. There is a double row of solar lights that shine after dark. I didn’t stick around for the light show but thought it could be more exciting than “experiencing” the bridge itself, especially from a long view.
As you can see in the pictures at least four cables as thick as your arm support the all metal substructure. It’s a muscular affair, the metallic skeleton only partially obscured by the wooden walkway. A strand of rope, yes actual organic rope, runs along each side for the old schoolers who retain tactility and to soften the impact of the huge coiled cables. The bridge’s attraction has been subtracted from the actual structure and experience.
I wonder what Squire Sowden, who built the first swinging bridge in 1904 for his own convenience to access his property across the river, would think of the new bridge.
Here’s a shot of that room full of old tools.