The Tacoma Narrows Bridge

While I was down in Tacoma for the memorial service I had some spare time and drove over the Narrows Bridge to see how the construction of the second bridge was going. I also took a few pictures back in May so you can compare those and see how much they have done in the last three months. While I think the final traffic patterns (essentially only adding a single HOV lane in each direction, but with wider lanes) are somewhat silly, at least it looks like the toll won’t be as high as originally thought ($3 compared to the original $5-7).

The original Narrows Bridge (called “Galloping Gertie”) opened on July 1st, 1940 and then four months later proceeded to collapse due to poor design. Many who have taken high school physics around the country have probably seen video clips or pictures of the demise of Gertie. If you haven’t seen it, here is some great footage of the rockin’ Gertie and her death. The second Narrows Bridge opened in October of 1950 and hasn’t fallen down yet. Because of traffic and the fact that it is “really scary” to drive with opposing traffic over the current bridge, they decided to build a second bridge.

In October of 2002 the construction of the second span started. They seem to still be building it as I couldn’t cross it yet. The first few bridge decks have been put in place. There is a giant cargo ship parked under the bridges that arrived from South Korea, conveniently they had 46 sections of bridge that would just fit the span. Each section is hoised from the cargo ship by large gantry cranes that ride along the main suspension cables. Eventually all those deck pieces (so they tell us) will fit together and we will be able to drive over it starting in the summer of 2007.

For those that would like to view the construction, Narrows Park on the Gig Harbor side has a great vantage. For more of my pictures from this trip you can see my Flickr set: Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Wikipedia - Tacoma Narrows Bridge
WSDOT Projects - SR 16 - New Tacoma Narrows Bridge
WSDOT - Building the Bridge
WSDOT - Lifting the Bridge Deck Sections
“Galloping Gertie” Collapses November 7, 1940
YouTube - Video of Galloping Gertie’s demise

Categories: Daily Life, Photoblog

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