The theme of this puzzle is “bridges”, as clued by the title and flavortext. The first step for solvers is to bridge and match the right pairs of clues by inserting the word “bridges” in-between, then figure out the 10 thematic clue answers below:
|Left Side of Pair||Correct Right Side of Pair||Pair Answer|
|Arch||have curved abutments at each of this (3)||END|
|Poorly maintained||may appear to be this, reflecting corrosion or oxidation (6)||RUSTED|
|Really long||are often made using girders of this material (5)||STEEL|
|Tension and compression are this sort of forces that||normally experience and are affected by (6)||STRESS|
|Nickname of a bowler that Jeff||played in a comedy (3,4)||THE DUDE|
|These kinds of movable||rotate like eyelids (4)||TILT|
|These natural types of||are literally rooted into the terrain (4)||TREE|
|A framework structure that some long||are built on top of for support (7)||TRESTLE|
|The load-bearing structure of these||are formed from connected (often triangular) elements (5)||TRUSS|
|Vis-à-vis||where you might find water, or question-asking trolls (5)||UNDER|
The 10 clue answers can be traced out by orthogonal linkways or bridges in the provided wraparound grid (as shown in the given samples) like a Twisty Wordsearch. A given constraint is that each point-to-point crossing can comprise at most 2 bridges. This rule, together with the bridges theme and presentation of the grid resembling a Hashiwokakero puzzle, also clue the standard Hashiwokakero rule that bridges do not cross. And as indicated in the flavortext, in this variant, there are exactly 3 point-to point crossings which may bend at the marked positions.
The solution grid that connects all the clue answers within these constraints is shown at the end of this solution (using the color-coded bridges corresponding to the clue pairing image alongside the grid). Note that the starting T in TREE and TRESTLE could swap (but one must connect to T6 as given), and this will not affect the extraction.
Going back to the Hashiwokakero reference, such puzzles are given with numbered points/islands corresponding to the total number of bridges connecting to that point/island, for solving. Hence for this puzzle, solvers now have to reverse the Hashiwokakero solving process to count the total number of bridges connecting to each point/letter. There are a total of 84 bridges, and the solution grid has exactly 3 letters (hinted by the trio of crooked bridges) with the same number of bridges connecting to them (from 1 to 7). These numbers have been indicated alongside the letters in the solution grid at the end of this solution.
The 7 numbered arrows given at the end of the puzzle indicate the direction (from the given grid position) to read off the respective trigrams/trio of letters corresponding with each number. This yields the extraction clue phrase below:
|SEE||THI||RD U||NUS||ED L||ETT||ERS|
There are 15 unused letters in the solution grid not connected by any bridges (highlighted in green). Reading off the third letters of these (highlighted in bright green) gives the answer to this puzzle BROOK, another thematic connection to bridges.