Most bridges are compromises: Cars want to speed low and straight across the water, but but boats want to pass under them. So we wind up with either tall bridges (expensive) or moveable bridges (clunky and awkward). But now a Dutch engineering firm has come up with a radical solution that doesn't involve the bridge—instead, it lowers the water 26 feet to let ships safely pass.

The tilting lock is the brainchild of Royal HaskoningDHV, one of the world's largest engineering consulting firms. Ordinary, a lock raises or lowers a boat to let pass between two bodies of water of different heights, such as a lake to an ocean. Here, the lock tilts to artificially and temporarily lower the water level, letting a tall sailboat fit under even a low bridge. Solar panels will power the whole thing.

Advertisement

The best way to understand how the tilting lock works is simply to watch it in action:

Carolus Poldervaart, an infrastructure project manager with Royal HaskoningDHV, told Civil Engineering magazine that they came up with the idea after watching cars and boats alike pile up while waiting for a moveable bridge. This particular tilting lock is designed to work with the Haringvliet Bridge in the Netherlands, adding 8 meters, or 26 feet, to the bridge's clearance. The article in Civil Engineering has plenty of numbers and details for the engineering-inclined among you.

Advertisement

There are all kinds of bridges designed to move out of the way for boats—bridges that curl, retract, and even tilt themselves. But the tilting lock makes boats move out of the way of bridges. Structures as unprecedented as the tilting lock won't be appearing under our bridges straight away, but any ideas for improving the slow moveable bridge are certainly welcome. [Civil Engineering]