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Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Tacoma

#12 of 54 in Things to do in Tacoma
Bridge · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a pair of twin suspension bridges that span the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington. The bridges connect the city of Tacoma with the Kitsap Peninsula and carry State Route 16 (known as Primary State Highway 14 until 1964) over the strait. Historically, the name "Tacoma Narrows Bridge" has applied to the original bridge nicknamed "Galloping Gertie", which opened in July 1940, but collapsed because of aeroelastic flutter four months later, as well as the replacement of the original bridge which opened in 1950 and still stands today as the westbound lanes of the present-day 2 bridge complex.

The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on July 1, 1940. The original bridge received its nickname "Galloping Gertie" because of the vertical movement of the deck observed by construction workers during windy conditions. The bridge became known for its pitching deck, and collapsed into Puget Sound the morning of November 7, 1940, under high wind conditions. Engineering issues, as well as the United States' involvement in World War II, postponed plans to replace the bridge for several years; the replacement bridge was opened on October 14, 1950.

By 1990, population growth and development on the Kitsap Peninsula caused traffic on the bridge to exceed its design capacity; as a result, in 1998 Washington voters approved a measure to support building a parallel bridge. After a series of protests and court battles, construction began in 2002 and the new bridge opened to carry eastbound traffic on July 16, 2007, while the 1950 bridge was reconfigured to carry westbound traffic.
At the time of their construction, both the 1940 and 1950 bridges were the third-longest suspension bridges in the world in terms of main span length, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and George Washington Bridge. The 1950 and 2007 bridges are as of 2017 the fifth-longest suspension bridge spans in the United States and the 43rd-longest in the world.

Tolls were charged on the bridge for the entire four-month service life of the original span, as well as the first 15 years of the 1950 bridge. In 1965, the bridge's construction bonds plus interest were paid off, and the state ceased toll collection on the bridge. Over 40 years later, tolls were reinstated as part of the financing of the twin span, and are presently collected only from vehicles traveling eastbound.

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Tacoma Narrows Bridge reviews

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189 reviews
  • I am a local photographer, this location is great to capture early morning fog photos. The old pilings in the water, the early morning fog and the beautiful Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the background...  more »
  • We had to travel across the bridge several times to get to Gig Harbor. The smoke and fog during our visit made the journey over the bridge very memorable as we couldn’t see the water only a haze...  more »
  • It's always kind of spooky going underneath of it in the boat! Always in my mind that someone might jump and land on the boat. The architecture is very unique and always part of the Puget Sound Scenic area. Haven't driven over the green bridge in years, I have never been over the new concrete bridge.
  • The views from the bridge are gorgeous, and I spot a seal or other wildlife on occasion. However, traffic is very loud and there is little coverage from the sun. So, come prepared and enjoy the scenery. 😁
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