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Bridges

Jaclyn Phillips
Fall 2014

Jaclyn Phillips ’10—Tripping the towers

Jaclyn Phillips ’10 spent her first two days in Nicaragua twenty feet in the air, atop a scaffolding she helped build.

In a remote village as part of a volunteer team, Phillips was helping build a 115-foot suspension footbridge across the El LimónRiver, which floods during the rainy season from June through November. “The village is very remote,” says Phillips. “The villagers have to cross two rivers to get to school, health care, and jobs. Farmers need to cross them to sell their crops.”

Whether high in the air stringing crossbeams or sleeping in a tent in a schoolyard, Phillips relished her two weeks there, … » More …

Fall 2010

Hans Breivik ’88—About a bridge

Tacoma certainly has had its share of broken bridges. But lately Hans Breivik ’88 has been coordinating the repair of one of them.

The double-bascule bridge across the Hylebos Waterway at the Port of Tacoma was built in 1938 and has been frozen in the open position since 2001. “Double bascule means that it has two leaves that open and close,” says Breivik, a construction management graduate who is now managing the $15 million Hylebos project. “When it worked, it worked on kind of the principle of a teeter-totter.” He raises his arm, imitating the way one arm of the bridge would, with a … » More …

Spring 2003

Solid footing

Ah, for the safety and comfort of computer modeling in a cozy office.

Instead, Thanos Papanicolaou, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Washington State University, found himself in a small boat in the churning waters of the Tacoma Narrows during a “peak tidal event” taking water velocity measurements, soundings, and underwater pictures of the bottom of the channel.

“I was a little nervous,” he admits, recalling his guide’s efforts to avoid vortices in the current.

Papanicolaou and graduate student Kyle Strom have been working to determine exactly how much of a scour hole tides make around the pilings that hold … » More …

Spring 2005

A Once-In-A-Career Project

Any engineering student can recount how wind-induced vibrations and poor aerodynamics caused “Galloping Gertie,” the first Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge, to swing wildly and collapse into the channel during a storm November 7, 1940.

More than 60 years after that failure, a group of Washington State University engineering alumni are helping to build a new bridge next to the one that replaced the original in 1950. The effort began in 2002 and is expected to cost $849 million. It will be the largest single project ever undertaken by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“It’s a dream job for me and a lot of the … » More …

Winter 2008

Catastrophe to Triumph: Bridges of the Tacoma Narrows

To the relief of many commuters, Tacoma’s new suspension bridge over the Narrows opened in summer 2007, joining the long-serving 1950 span that connects Tacoma to the Kitsap Peninsula. Both Tacoma Narrows bridges, however, are heirs to the dark and twisting legacy of “Galloping Gertie,” the original Narrows bridge that tore itself apart in the wind. Catastrophe to Triumph tells Gertie’s story, and the stories of the ensuing successful bridges, using a wealth of archival photographs, exhaustive engineering details and engaging character studies.

In one of the most compelling sections of his book, historian Richard S. Hobbs captures the drama of the ill-fated 1940 bridge, … » More …