Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Torsional Oscillation

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Torsional Oscillation

The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. It was located in Washington State, near Puget Sound.

Strong winds caused the bridge to collapse on November 7, 1940. Initially, 35 mile per hour winds excited the bridge’s transverse vibration mode, with an amplitude of 1.5 feet. This motion lasted 3 hours.

The wind then increased to 42 miles per hour. In addition, a support cable at mid-span snapped, resulting in an unbalanced loading condition. The bridge response thus changed to a 0.2 Hz torsional vibration mode, with an amplitude up to 28 feet. The bridge collapsed as a result.

Here is a paper that gives an explanation of the failure in terms of aerodynamic self-excitation: Tacoma Narrows Bridge Failure

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Here is a brief video clip that shows both the bending and torsional motion: video

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See also:

Volgograd Bridge Oscillation

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– Tom Irvine

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