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Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Tacoma

4.2
#13 of 59 in Things to do in Tacoma
Bridge · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a pair of twin suspension bridges that span the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington. The bridges connect the city of Tacoma with the Kitsap Peninsula and carry State Route 16 (known as Primary State Highway 14 until 1964) over the strait. Historically, the name "Tacoma Narrows Bridge" has applied to the original bridge nicknamed "Galloping Gertie", which opened in July 1940, but collapsed possibly because of aeroelastic flutter four months later, as well as the replacement of the original bridge which opened in 1950 and still stands today as the westbound lanes of the present-day two-bridge complex.

The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on July 1, 1940. The original bridge received its nickname "Galloping Gertie" due to of the vertical movement of the deck observed by construction workers during windy conditions. While engineers and engineering professor, F. B. Farquharson were hired to seek ways to stop the odd movements, months of experiments were unsuccessful. The bridge became known for its pitching deck, and collapsed into Puget Sound the morning of November 7, 1940, under high wind conditions. Engineering issues, as well as the United States' involvement in World War II, postponed plans to replace the bridge for several years; the replacement bridge was opened on October 14, 1950.

By 1990, population growth and development on the Kitsap Peninsula had caused traffic on the bridge to exceed its design capacity; as a result, in 1998 Washington voters approved a measure to support building a parallel bridge. After a series of protests and court battles, construction began in 2002 and the new bridge opened to carry eastbound traffic on July 16, 2007, while the 1950 bridge was reconfigured to carry westbound traffic.
At the time of their construction, both the 1940 and 1950 bridges were the third-longest suspension bridges in the world in terms of main span length, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and George Washington Bridge. The 1950 and 2007 bridges are as of 2017 the fifth-longest suspension bridge spans in the United States and the 43rd-longest in the world.

Tolls were charged on the bridge for the entire four-month service life of the original span, as well as the first 15 years of the 1950 bridge. In 1965, the bridge's construction bonds plus interest were paid off, and the state ceased toll collection on the bridge. Over 40 years later, tolls were reinstated as part of the financing of the twin span, and are presently collected only from vehicles traveling eastbound.

A visit to Tacoma Narrows Bridge represents just the start of the adventure when you use our Tacoma journey maker site to plot your vacation.
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Tacoma Narrows Bridge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
192 reviews
Google
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TripAdvisor
  • We crossed over them several times, but viewed these two stunning examples of human engineering up close from the Tacoma Narrows Park in Gig Harbor, accessed by the address 1502 Lucille Parkway, Gig.....  more
    We crossed over them several times, but viewed these two stunning examples of human engineering up close from the Tacoma Narrows Park in Gig Harbor, accessed by the address 1502 Lucille Parkway, Gig.....  more »
  • We walked across the bridge on a pleasant week day in August. I would not recommend it during rainy or windy weather. The walkway is separated from the roadway by a concrete wall, so the walk is... 
    We walked across the bridge on a pleasant week day in August. I would not recommend it during rainy or windy weather. The walkway is separated from the roadway by a concrete wall, so the walk is...  more »
Google
  • Built much better than the original! This bridge holds a special notoriety among anyone who studied advanced physics or vibrations, mostly because the original bridge was built without accounting for harmonic resonance and waved wildly in the wind…collapsing into pieces on November 7, 1940 after it ‘matched’ the harmonic resonance of the strong wind (you can recreate this phenomenon by humming next to a guitar string and the string will vibrate to match your humming…bear in mind the bridge was not as flexible as the guitar string and was not built to make rock n’ roll….so it burst into pieces) Well, the new bridge does not disappoint. It’s sturdy, steady, and ain’t budgin’ a inch…like an old state employee at the local DMV. I walked from one end of the bridge to the other and back again, taking in a great view of The Puget Sound - Tacoma on one side and beaches at the foot of forested suburbs on the other. It’s a nice walk for some exercise and also to visit a piece of history in what was once the most pathetic and ridiculous engineering mistake ever made on public infrastructure in American history.
  • Easy access from the War Memorial Park, the trail is marked for people walking or riding a bike. Beautiful views from the bridge. I enjoyed riding my e-bike across the bridge.

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