Bendy Roads and Terra Cotta Tiles

All of the propoganda for the Confederation Bridge talks about how it has a “unique S-shaped design.” This design, it is said, helps to prevent drivers from falling asleep. I’ve never heard anyone question this logic, but doesn’t it seem somewhat absurd? If straight roads cause fatigue, then why don’t we build our highways shaped like S’s too?

In this same vein, I find the following fact (from this story) about the Big Dig seems a little bit too much like “a marketing answer to a design question:”

Motorists might also notice the accent tiles are terra cotta, rather than blue, signifying that the tunnel goes underground, rather than underwater.

I can just imagine some future tunnel accident — crazy masses of people rushing around, worrying about drowning in an impending onrush of Boston Harbor water. “But wait,” cries one plucky fellow, “the tiles are terra cotta, signifying that the tunnel goes underground, rather than underwater.” The panic subsides, order returns, and terra cotta tiles save the day.

I propose that we mark the next 10 years as a “bullshit free decade” — no S-shaped bridges or terra cotta tiles, just unvarnished truth. I am so naive.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on February 8, 2003 - 18:41 Permalink

Bendy roads are not important cuz there’s lots of stuff to visually challenge the driver. Straight bridges, when very long, are much more accident prone than curvy ones when the visual references are poor to non existent. It’s true, not bs.

Ken's picture
Ken on February 8, 2003 - 22:39 Permalink

Wouldn’t the S shape make it less likely to fall over as well? Knowing Island road building, it is probably a way to make the project bigger and more expensive for the sake of jobs! Anyway, it has flair.

Justin's picture
Justin on February 9, 2003 - 02:58 Permalink

Strai(gh)t Crossing Inc…
Bendy Crossing Inc.
I like Bendy!

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on February 9, 2003 - 06:22 Permalink

Kevin, but surely there’s a way of introducing visual reference points without going to the considerable effort of making a straight bridge into a ‘S,’ isn’t there?

Justin's picture
Justin on February 9, 2003 - 16:09 Permalink

I’m starting to think you’re serious. The ‘S’ shape is intended for additional structural integrity, ain’t it? The fact that it helps keep you from falling asleep on that horrendously long 15 minute trip is a nice side-effect. If you know how to drive without going head-on to another vehicle then visual reference points aren’t important. The trip from Miscouche to Wellington is arrow straight but the vehicle you’ve been eye-balling for five minutes finally does reach you, you don’t pack into it because you’re in your own lane. That yella line is all the visual reference that’s important. “That’s all I got to say ‘bout that”-Gump