This report examines the history of bridge building from the colonial period to the recent past. Ten types of construction (arch, beam, cantilever, girder, movable, rigid frame, slab, suspension, timber and truss) and four types of materials (wood, stone, concrete and metal) characterize Maryland's bridges. The context provides an overview and history of road, bridge and highway development; a discussion of government agencies that controlled the roads and bridges; images and three appendices which contain a timetable; a list of bridge designers who were active in Maryland; and character-defining elements (CDEs) for each bridge type. The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) uses this context to compile its historic bridge inventory and to evaluate each bridge for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Others can use this context to assess the historical significance of a bridge. The type groupings allow a reviewer to compare a resource against a similar structure in the state or a county.
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