A bridge to nowhere is a bridge where one or both ends are broken or incomplete and does not lead anywhere. If it is an overpass or an interchange, the term overpass to nowhere or interchange to nowhere may be used respectively. There are three main origins for these bridges:
The bridge was never completed for reasons such as cost or disputed property rights.
One end or both end has collapsed or have been destroyed – e.g., by earthquake, storm, flood, or war.
The bridge is not used, but was not demolished because of the cost; for example, the bridges on an abandoned railway line.
Further, the term "bridge to nowhere" may be used by political opponents to describe a bridge (or proposed bridge) that serves low-population areas at high cost, a symbol of pork barrel spending.
Port Nelson Bridge, an isolated rail bridge located near Churchill, Manitoba. The connecting rail line was never built due to labor and material shortages combined with a lack of financial or political support and high cost. The project itself was greatly criticized by several politicians, the media (calling it a "gigantic blunder"), and even the project's chief engineer.
The Borovsko Bridge, an unfinished highway bridge in Borovnice, Central Bohemian Region, commonly known as the "Czech Avignon" or "Hitler's Bridge". The original bridge over the Sedlický stream near Borovsko was under construction at KM 59 of the highway between 1939 – 42 and 1948 – 50. Construction was commenced in July 1939 by the civil engineering company "ing. J. Domanský". The planned budget was 5.552.400 crowns. The bridge was finished at the end of 1950 and formally approved by the authorities in 1952. However, highway construction was suspended in the 1950s, the rampart at the southern end was never finished, and the bridge was abandoned. The 1960s brought new hope for the Borovsko Bridge and Czech highways. At the time, the project of the new large drinking water reservoir for Prague was under consideration. Natural supply provided a high quality of water but a huge artificial lake was to flood a number of valleys, including two valleys where the Borovsko Bridge and the smaller neighbouring Sedmpanský Bridge were situated. Various scenarios were examined. One of them was reducing the lake size, but the city of Prague required millions of litres of drinking water. The other option was hydroinsulation of the bridge construction – but this approach was almost as costly as building a new bridge, even without considering the cost of water protection in case of accident etc. Finally, the decision was made to bypass the valley and to build a completely new bridge a few hundred metres to the south. The dam has been in operation since 1976 and this sector of the D1 highway has been in operation since 1977. The Borovsko Bridge and the Sedmpanský Bridge were abandoned, as were the routes a few kilometres west and east from the bridges' location. Today, huge spans of the Borovsko Bridge have been flooded almost up to the roadway. The bridge rests unseen in the middle of the forests of the Bohemian-Moravian Highland, as the whole lake district is a forbidden area and entry is strictly prohibited to ensure water reservoir protection.
The Sedmpansky Bridge, an unfinished highway bridge in Hulice, Central Bohemian Region. The former highway bridge over the Sedmpansky stream near Borovsko was under construction in 1939 – 42 and finally in 1945 – 50. The bridge was finished, however its fate was the same. Water resources in this area are now used for nearly the whole of Prague.
The Píšť Bridge, originally built in 1939 – 1942 and 1945 – 1950 as a highway bridge near Píšť, Vysočina Region. When the highway construction was resumed at the end of the 1960s, the original bridge did not meet new highway standards and a new bridge was build atop this one. The original bridge (so- called “lower storey”) is now used for a local road which was created as access road when building the new bridge.
The colloquial name for a bridge to nowhere in Germany is "Soda-Brücke" (a pun from "so da" = "just there"). Many of the bridges were built in the 1970s as part of the Autobahn network, but the oil crisis and rising environmental consciousness slowed many highway extensions.
Viaduct in Kopráš, never-used railway viaduct in the village of Kopráš near the town of Jelšava in south Slovakia. The viaduct is 120 m long and 40 m high. It was finished in 1945 but was never used, because the railway to the viaduct was never completed due to the events of World War II. Next to the viaduct are two finished tunnels without any connection to railways. The tunnel near the village of Slavošovce is 2800 m long, and the tunnel near Kopráš is 350 m long. These tunnels to nowhere were also never used, because railway construction ended in 1948 before its completion.
Bridge to Nowhere in San Martín de la Vega (built 1933), originally projected in 1926. It was severely damaged in March 1947 after a severe flooding, and it was never repaired. Nowadays only a few sections of it stay in place, and the surroundings are now a recreational site.
M8 Bridge to Nowhere, two separate bridges over the M8 motorway in Glasgow: one eventually had an office block constructed on it; the other, originally built in the 1970s, remained unfinished until July 2013.
Big Four Bridge (built 1895), a 770 m single-track railroad bridge over the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, which was abandoned in 1968 and had both its approach spans removed and sold for scrap the following year. In February 2013, the bridge was reopened on one end for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Miles Glacier Bridge (built 1910), also known as the "Million Dollar Bridge", was converted from railroad use to motor vehicle use and located at the northern end of the unfinished Copper River Highway near Cordova, Alaska. Construction stopped in 1964 when an earthquake damaged the 472 m bridge. Although since repaired and reopened the bridge is nonetheless currently of limited utility due to damage along other points of the route.
Hoan Bridge (built 1973), a 3 km road bridge over the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was unused until access roads were completed in 1977, was lacking freeway connections at the southern end until 1998, and was "going nowhere again" for two months while closed for major repairs after a span partially collapsed in December 2000.
Luten Bridge (built 1925), also known as Mebane Bridge or Mebane's Bridge, is a road bridge over the Dan River in Rockingham County on the outskirts of the town of Eden, North Carolina, which was at the center of the landmark Luten Bridge Co. vs. Rockingham County lawsuit that made jurisprudence in 1929 when the contractor continued work on it well after the contract to build it was rescinded and subsequently sued to be reimbursed for this work.
Pier 19 (demolished 2012) of a proposed second span of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. No second span had ever been approved for this privately owned bridge, largely because the proposal would dump excessive traffic onto Windsor city surface streets, but its owners built ramps for the proposed span in an attempt to counter an internationally supported proposal for a Detroit River International Crossing to the Windsor-Essex Parkway further downriver. The unauthorized ramp was removed in 2012 by court order.
Bridges to unpopulated or low population areas
In Jasper National Park, at the outlet of Maligne Lake there is a bridge that crosses the outlet river, and proceeds about 300 meters to a parking lot and several hiking trails and a boat launch. The bridge cost millions of dollars to build and was part of a proposed route through the mountains that was never completed.
Spain has a series of high-speed railway lines under construction, planned and in service, many of which result from political expediency. The Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line (which contains several viaducts, particularly in the Sierra Morena region) was built to link Madrid with Seville instead of Barcelona, as the prime minister at the time of the decision (1986), Felipe González, came from Seville and it was a sweetener on account of the fact that Barcelona was to receive the Olympics instead.
The high-speed route to Galicia is receiving a large proportion of the funding for the year 2013, in spite of the very low population of Galicia. Other projects, such as the planned high-speed link between Zaragoza, Pamplona and the French border are receiving relatively little funding, even though this link would create a fast route between Paris and Madrid. This disparity exists because Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, comes from Santiago de Compostela, and Ana Pastor Julián, the transport minister, comes from Cubillos del Pan, a short distance from Zamora; both these cities will be served by the proposed line.
Ontario Highway 548 has a short stub of roadway (with double-yellow line still visible) aside of a more recent bridge approach, of which was a former ferry approach which is now used as a parking lot for people to go fishing from an island connecting the longer bridge to a shorter bridge to St. Joseph Island.