A Bridge too Far?

As many of you know, I live in the State of Washington.  Yep, way up here in the corner of country.  We are known for coffee, microbrews, wine, grunge rock, rain and a helluva lot of water.  West of the Cascade mountains (commonly known as Western Washington (I never said we were original…) We have ever body of water you can think of.

Puddles, ponds, lakes, swamps, rivulets, creeks, streams, rivers, bigger rivers and the Puget Sound.  Funny thing about bodies of water, sooner or later you gotta get across them.  Here in WA, we have a couple of ways of doing this.  We have Ferries

imageAnd we have bridges.  Trouble is, our bridges don’t always stay up!

Yep, we here in WA have some pretty BAD weather in the late fall and winter.  We have had three major bridge failures over the years.  I bring this up now because as of Saturday, I have crossed each of the 3 that have collapsed on the bike!

I’ll cover them in the order I crossed them.  This means the first is the Hood Canal Bridge.  This is a floating bridge that crosses, (you guessed it) the Hood Canal.  (sorry, not a great pic by me)







A bit of info here.

The Hood Canal Bridge (officially William A. Bugge Bridge) is a floating bridge located in the U.S. state of Washington that carriesWashington State Route 104 across Hood Canal and connects the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. At 7,869 feet (2,398 m) long, (floating portion 6,521 feet (1,988 m)) it is the longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin, and the third longest floating bridge overall. First opened in 1961, it was the second concrete floating bridge constructed in Washington. Since that time, it has become a vital link for local residents, freight haulers, commuters, and recreational travelers. The convenience it provides has had a major impact on economic development, especially in eastern Jefferson County.

I cross it on my rides to Port Townsend, Sequim etc.

On, February 13th, 1979, after a night of 85 mile an hour gust, it sank.  No one was hurt, as they had long since closed it down.



It took 3 years to rebuild.   It’s a beautiful ride now.  Off the sides you can see sea lions, harbor seals and a variety of sea birds!

Next is the I-90 floating bridge, this crosses lake Washington between Seattle and Bellevue.


The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge is a floating bridge that carries the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington fromSeattle to Mercer Island, Washington. Westbound traffic is carried by the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge running parallel to it. The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge is the second longest floating bridge on Earth at 6,620 ft (2,020 m), whereas the longest is the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge just a few miles to the north on the same lake, built 23 years later. The third longest is the Hood Canal Bridge, also in Washington State, about 30 miles (48 km) to the northwest of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge.

The bridge was needing to be resurfaced and widened.  The workers were using high pressure hoses to  peel off the old surface.  To keep from contaminating the lake, the residue was washed into the pontoons that floated the bridge.  Someone forgot to close the doors at over the thanksgiving holiday weekend 1990, and hellacious rain/flood event occurred.  Yep pontoons filled, bridge sank!


imageIt took 3 years to rebuild!

It’s not my favorite route, very noisy and too much traffic, but its a quick way to the East-side.

Finally the grandaddy of them all, The Tacoma Narrows Bridge



This bridge spans the narrowest point over Puget sound between Tacoma and Gig Harbor.  Contrary to my 15 years old’s belief, I was NOT around when it opened in July of 1940 nor was I there when the wind caused it to collapse in November of the same year.  It had swayed in the wind since the day it was built, but the wind that day was just too much for it.



It is strong as a rock now, in fact, after it was rebuilt and reopened in 1950, a second span was added and opened to traffic in 2007.

I will tell you, to this day, if the wind blows, all these bridges get pounded.  I have been on the Narrows when it is whipping, and its feels like you are going to be blown off the deck.  And it is a LONG way down.

I don’t know why I think its cool that I have crossed the sites of 3 major bridge disasters.  Maybe its because in all three, the only one to die was a cocker spaniel.  Or,probably closer, to the reason,

Great Northern Railway in the Cascade Mountain...
Great Northern Railway in the Cascade Mountains, Washington State (1900) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like to be reminded that no matter what we build, nature can take it down if she really wants too!

4th times the charm evidently.  The 520 bridge, the longest of all of them, is the oldest floating bridge, and is in danger of being seriously damaged in a big wind.  The waves crashing over it onto cars is very cool!  However, instead of letting it sink, we are actually building its replacement.  Just seems wrong…  But then again, our pontoons are leaking for the new one, so there is still hope!



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