ISLAMABAD-Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) have completed work on a new kind of bridge that’s modeled to ‘open’ and ‘close’ like an umbrella. The bridge is roughly 236 feet long and spans a small stretch of the Lafnitz River on the border of Austria and Hungary, where Austria’s new S7 motorway is being constructed. Unlike most other bridge construction projects, the Lafnitz River bridge was assembled vertically instead of horizontally, and then lowered with bendable hydraulic joints that mimic an umbrella’s internal frame. ‘The two girders are connected to each other at the top, directly above the pier, ‘designer Johann Kollegger told. ‘With hydraulic systems, this joint is then slowly lowered, and the girders unfold to both sides.’ The fact that the bridge can be assembled in a central location before expanding to span its full length could make construction much safer in the often dangerous terrain that require bridges, including steep mountainsides and across deep ravines. ‘Erecting bridges using scaffolding usually takes months,’ Kollegger said.