No longer solely in the business of getting people from A to B across a waterway, bridges are now also about putting a place on the map and kick-starting wider investment.
Get bridge. Make bridge. Thrive.
Once upon a time bridges were all about getting people from one side of a river to the other.
Whether it was traders or workmen or retreating soldiers, bridges existed for a purely practical purpose. They might have been designed or built with great flair, using materials chosen to dazzle the observer, but they were, first and foremost, conceived because of man's inability to walk on water.
But in the past few decades, not just in Britain but also elsewhere in Europe, the bridge has started to be used as something more than a mere means of conveying traffic across water.
In dilapidated areas they are being used as emblems; glistening standards for major urban redevelopment projects.
The residents of Castleford, as part of a project chronicled by Channel 4, have got themselves a slinky new S-shaped footbridge across the fast-flowing River Aire.
Castleford is a former mining town, a former mill town, with some deprived areas. But it is also close to Leeds and close to the motorway and there is a belief that it can be economically successful again.
A regeneration programme, part-inspired by Channel 4 and overseen by residents acting as "champions" for various projects, has a bridge at its heart.
"Anybody who wants to come into a place like Castleford has to be attracted by the potential," says Alison Drake, one of the champions.
"To not have access to the river or the views was a waste. The bridge has brought all that into play. You need to make a bold statement - the bridge makes that bold statement."
The centre of Castleford was previously accessible by a cramped road bridge and probably did need another way for pedestrians to get over the foaming and flood-prone Aire.
But the town can still be seen to have followed the example of Gateshead, which, a few years ago, built a bridge that many could have argued it didn't really need.
The Tyne is replete with bridges on the narrow stretch where the centre of Gateshead meets the centre of Newcastle. Prior to the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, it was easy to walk across from Newcastle into Gateshead.
But that did not stop the town fathers putting their weight behind a multimillion pound bridge that would really put Gateshead on the map.
Flash of confidence
"It was seen as part of a package of regeneration, it wasn't seen entirely as a transport project," says David Leeder, head of the council's Major Initiatives Team.
And since the bridge - better known as the Blinking Eye Bridge - was plonked down onto the Tyneside skyline at the tail end of 2000 by the giant floating crane Asian Hercules II, it has made its mark in two respects.
It is a Millennium project that was not greeted with derision in the press and it is a structure that has won numerous awards. It cost over £20m, half of it from the Millennium Commission, but the council feels it was money well spent.
Since the bridge opened in 2001, Gateshead has also seen half a dozen other big projects come to fruition, most notably the Sage music centre and the Baltic Art Centre. And with perhaps even more direct consequences for the citizens of Tyneside, the Baltic Business Quarter seems to be a concrete result of the redevelopment that the bridge led.
Somehow, building a flashy, expensive and not immediately necessary bridge led to a re-evaluation of an area that had been depressed for a long time. As one newspaper described the changes heralded by the bridge: "Geordie pride is being restored."
"It is one [view] of the area that people photograph," says Mr Leeder. "The image of the bridge is a very striking image. It is very widely used on publicity photographs, and on all sorts of tourist mementoes. The bridge is integral. It is such a unique design. It doesn't look like any other bridge."
At the other end of the spectrum is the Millennium Bridge in London, which links St Paul's and Southwark, and opened in June 2000.
The bridge should have been a triumph to complement the recently opened Tate Modern, but an excessive vibration led to a temporary closure. Its designers had wanted it to be nicknamed the "blade of light" but posterity will call it the "wobbly bridge".
Castleford wants a bit of the Gateshead experience to guarantee its future, but there are places in Europe where there's even more at stake.
In Mostar in Bosnia, the Stari Most has stood imperiously over the Neretva for more than four centuries until it was deliberately blown up during the war in Bosnia in 1993. A Unesco-led project saw millions spent on restoring the bridge, not just to attract tourists or provide another crossing, but also to connect Bosniak and Croatian communities.
Esad Humo worked on the bridge project and is now the minister for economics in the local government.
"The bridge was a landmark of this area and this ancient bridge was very well-known all around the world. Destroying a bridge was a signal of the destroying of our connections and our past. To reconstruct the bridge, the idea was to reconstruct our connections."
And that is perhaps the greatest reason to build a bridge.