Department of Civil and
		Environmental Engineering at Carleton University Department of Civil and
		Environmental Engineering at Carleton University Department of Civil and
		Environmental Engineering at Carleton University

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Failure

On November 7, 1940, at approximately 11:00 AM, the first Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge collapsed due to wind-induced vibrations. Situated on the Tacoma Narrows in Puget Sound, near the city of Tacoma, Washington, the bridge had only been open for traffic a few months.
Here is a small, short (250 frames - 10 seconds?) but biggish (700K) excerpt of a MPEG video clip of the action, showing the maximum torsional motion shortly before failure. The origin of this sequence is unknown, but it has probably been lifted from the 20 minute silent film.

The following images and captions were taken from the report:
Smith, Doug, "A Case Study and Analysis of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Failure", 99.497 Engineering Project, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, March 29, 1974. Supervised by Professor G. Kardos.

For the following figures, select the small thumbnail image to see the full size image (not in-lined). The full size images are generally 500x360 (approx.) 256-level grey scale images, of about 130 KBytes each.

fig06 Figure 6: This photograph shows the twisting motion of the center span just prior to failure.
fig07 Figure 7: The nature and severity of the torsional movement is revealed in this picture taken from the Tacoma end of the suspension span. When the twisting motion was at the maximum, elevation of the sidewalk at the right was 28 feet (8.5m) higher than the sidewalk at the left. Note the target at the left used by Professor Farquharson in making his observations.
fig08 Figure 8: This photograph actually caught the first failure shortly before 11 o'clock, as the first concrete dropped out of the roadway. Also note bulges in the stiffening girder near the far tower and also in the immediate foreground.
fig09 Figure 9: A few minutes after the first piece of concrete fell, this 600 foot section broke out of the suspension span, turning upside down as it crashed in Puget Sound. Note how the floor assembly and the solid girders have been twisted and warped. The square object in mid air (near the centre of the photograph) is a 25 foot (7.6m) section of concrete pavement. Notice the car in the top right corner.
fig10 Figure 10: This photograph shows the sag in the east span after the failure. With the centre span gone there was nothing to counter balance the weight of the side spans. The sag was 45 feet (13.7m). Also the immense size of the anchorages is illustrated.
fig11 Figure 11: This picture was taken shortly after the failure. Note the nature of the twists in the dangling remainder of the south stiffening girder and the tangled remains of the north stiffening girder.
fig12 Figure 12: The top left picture shows the center span diagonal ties and their connections. The top right picture shows the slackening of the tie due to twisting. The bottom left picture shows the frayed main cable after failure. About 600 (sic) wires are cut. The bottom right shot shows the diagonal ties after the failure.
fig13 Figure 13: This picture shows the buckling of the suspended floor system near the centre of the side spans. The top right picture shows the suspender connections and the type of cables used for this connection.
fig14 Figure 14: This picture shows the size of the towers and the type of construction used. There is a slight buckling of the tower as a result of the additional strain caused after the centre span collapsed. The towers were made out of structural carbon steel.

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