Tim Eyman and Galloping GertieJuly 26th, 2013 by travis baker
The in basket: When I read the item in Friday’s paper about someone wanting to name the Skagit River bridge at I-5 after Tim Eyman, “dedicated to (his) efforts to reduce Washington state tax revenue and the collapse of the Skagit River bridge…” it wasn’t immediately clear to me whether it was proposing an actual plaudit or taking a tongue-in-cheek swipe at Eyman for depriving projects such as fortifying the aged bridge the money to do it.
Eyman’s response that personal attacks on him are “silly” cleared that up.
But had it been a real plaudit, it would not be without precedent.
I’ve been hanging onto a new release for about a year, announcing that “the state Department of Transportation and the American Society of Civil Engineers have joined in recognizing the collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge (in 1940) as a major event in the development of building bridges.”
It announced a ceremony at the Living War Memorial Park at the Tacoma end of the existing Narrows bridges last Aug. 11 dedicating the old bridge as an ASCE Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
“Even though no human lives were lost,” the news release said, “the unforgettable images of twisting metal and concrete deck sections crashing into Puget Sound immortalized engineering gone wrong. Galloping Gertie, open for only four months at the time of its collapse, became a powerful symbol of the importance of aerodynamics on suspension-bridge stability.”
The ceremony would “formally recognize the significant effect the failure of the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge had on advancing the science of suspension-bridge design,” it said.
I didn’t get down to that park on Aug. 11, and during a brief, wind-chilled visit there last fall, I didn’t see any permanent evidence of the honor. I asked if there was one and if the ceremony was held.
The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of WSDOT, replied to say the ceremony was held.
“The chapter (of ASCE) funded the fabrication of a very nice plaque commemorating the contribution of Galloping Gertie to the importance of aerodynamics in suspension bridge design, which they ceremoniously presented to WSDOT (Kevin Dayton, Olympic Region Administrator).
“They are working to raise more money to build a permanent display in War Memorial Park, in which the plaque would be embedded. But they’ve not achieved that yet.”