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Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 8:05 am

My Take by Mark McGee

I hate bridges.

Always have. Always will.

As a very young child when my family would be driving home late at night on Highway 41-A between Shelbyville and Tullahoma I used to imagine a giant monster was lurking in the high arches waiting to pounce unexpectedly. The old bridge was replaced and all of the old steel framing went with it.

Still, it is a bridge, and I always think twice about going over it.

During my very younger days I also was fearful of the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge. On vacations to visit relatives in Texas we often cross the Mississippi River at night. It was the longest bridge I had been over at the time and it was difficult to determine what was darker – the night time sky or the river water.

I once worked with someone who was afraid of driving herself over Monteagle Mountain. She has business there a couple of times and each time I was her designated driver.

Mountains don’t bother me. Bridges do.

The complete deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after being hit by a container ship only heightened my bridge fears. I had driven over that bridge in a previous trip to the city.

It also made me think of a couple of other bridges I have driven over, some of them more than once.

One of the most notorious is the Sunshine Parkway Bridge over the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the most important bridge in Florida it is also described as “the gateway to Tampa Bay.” If you are driving from St. Petersburg to Bradenton you are going to have to cross it.

It is extremely high above the water. Just like my former co-worker and her fear of mountains, drivers can pay someone to drive them across the bridge on one of the four-lanes of traffic.

In 1980 it was also the site of a deadly collision when a ship hit the bridge during heavy, dangerous weather conditions.

In the day time it makes you think, though the view is breathtaking. At nighttime it is downright intimidating.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a historical and cultural experience, but frankly if I am going from Oakland to San Francisco I prefer to ride the BART system where I try to forget I am riding deep underwater for most of the trip.

One of the prettier bridges I have experienced is in San Diego, California.  Known as the Coronado Bridge and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge it is not the only curved bridge in the world but it is an impressive example of architectural design as it passes over San Diego Bay.

But a bridge is a bridge and I don’t really relish crossing any of them. I have to conquer my fears each time I do. Just file me away as another person with a case of gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges and tunnels.

Maybe you have gephyrophobia as well.