 Started  Opened  Designed  Designed as  collapse of bridge

: : : : :

November 23, 1938 July 1, 1940 by Leon Moisseiff suspension bridge November 7, 1940

 Greatest Span  Total Length  Cost  Diameter of Cables

: 2,800ft : 5,979ft : $8 million : 17.25”

 6,308 wires spun one at a time to make the large cables.
 Third largest suspension span in the world at the time.

Location Map

Design Included
 Suspension bridge  Two Towers  Two Main Cables  Two Anchorages  One Lane Highway


 600 ton blocks of concrete were used to anchor the caisson


What happened ???
 The torsion mode shape was such that the bridge was effectively divided into two halves.  The two halves vibrated out-of-phase with one another.  A suspension bridge may either twist as a whole or divide into half spans with opposite rotations.  Nature prefers the two half-span option since this requires less wind energy.  The bridge collapsed during the excitation of this torsion mode.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse

Failure Theories
 Random turbulence
 Periodic vortex shedding

 Aerodynamic instability (negative damping)

Random turbulence
When the natural frequency of vibration matches the frequency of oscillation, resonance will occurred.
 The 42 miles per hour winds

caused the resonance  Examples for Resonance:
 Soldiers marching in lockstep

over a bridge can destroy it by creating resonance  A swing set

Periodic Vortex Shedding
 Natural vortex shedding frequency was calculated to be 1 Hz  Torsion mode frequency was 0.2 Hz

Solid Plate Girder (Tacoma Narrows)
Cross Section

Side View

Aerodynamic instability (negative damping)

Aerodynamic Girder
Cross Section

Causes for Failure
 The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed because the designer failed to consider the aerodynamic forces.
 Steel beams used as main horizontal supports in

the bridge. It caught the wind rather than letting it pass through.
 Aerodynamic failure has to do with the stiffness of

steel and its tendency to bend and twist if the wind comes in at certain angles.

How to prevent it from happening again ???
 Considering the location and geography before the designs of a bridge or structure.  Taking into account aerodynamic instability, and even resonance, along with other forces of nature.  Improvements in other areas – more reliable materials, expanded technical knowledge, wind testing, computer technology, and the growing

recognition that failures, having the most to teach about successful design.

     

Key data of Tacoma Narrows bridge Included elements of design Collapse Theories of failure Causes for failure of bridge How to prevent it from happening again?

We should remember that aerodynamic instability, and even resonance, should always be taken into account, along with other forces of nature.

• University of Washington Special CollectionsTacoma Narrows Bridge. November 16, 2006. • WSDOT- Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Extreme History. November 16, 2006. • • • The Urban Legend Archive. Bridge Resonance • National Scientific Seminar on Dynamics and Progressive Collapse in Cable-Stayed Bridges • Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam, February 16, 2011

"These long-forgotten difficulties with early suspension bridges, clearly show that while to modern engineers, the gyrations of the Tacoma bridge constituted something entirely new and strange, they were not new--they had simply been forgotten.”


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