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99% Invisible

158- Sandhogs

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eighty years ago, New York City needed another tunnel under the Hudson River. The Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge could no longer handle the mounting traffic between New Jersey and Manhattan. Thus began construction of the Lincoln Tunnel.

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Storycorps

StoryCorps Podcast 418: Guardians of the Golden Gate

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kevin Berthia talks with retired California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs. They met the day Berthia tried to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Storycorps

StoryCorps 406: The Bridge

Friday, December 19, 2014

Writer Gay Talese interviews Bob Walsh, one of the ironworkers who built the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the country.

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Slate Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest: Take It to the Bridge Edition

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Slate critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens and Julia Turner discuss the new film "The Spectacular Now," the FX show "The Bridge," and nature and role of melody.

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Transportation Nation

D.C. Moves Forward On Transformative Frederick Douglass Bridge Project

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WAMU

A $900 million vision to transform two D.C. neighborhoods by turning a freeway into a grand boulevard is taking shape. “It's going to be a gateway into the city instead of a thoroughfare out of the city,” says one city official.

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Transportation Nation

Minneapolis Celebrates Marriage Equality With a Rainbow Bridge

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Monday, the governor of Minnesota signed the state's Marriage Equality bill into law.  To celebrate, on Tuesday the city of Minneapolis lit up its I-35 bridge in rainbow colors.

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Transportation Nation

Washington State Admits Bridge Problems Result Of Design Flaw

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The first new bridge pontoon on its way to Lake Washington in 2012. (Flickr photo/WSDOT)

(Derek Wang - Seattle, KUOW) Washington Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said Tuesday that cracks in the pontoons for the state Route 520 floating bridge project were largely the result of a flawed design by the state.

The pontoons are the floating part of the 520 bridge across Lake Washington, the longest floating bridge in the world. They’re huge concrete structures that support the roadway; the larger pontoons are about the length of a football field and weigh the same as 23 Boeing 747 jetliners.

Last year, cracks were discovered in the pontoons for the new bridge, which prompted then-Governor Chris Gregoire to convene an expert panel to review the situation.

The panel released their findings on Tuesday, and found two reasons for the cracks: the contractor didn’t follow the state’s engineering guidelines as it was building the pontoons, and the state had a faulty design.

WSDOT never ran models that tested the pontoon design.

Specifically, the cracks occurred when the steel bands were used to compress the concrete pontoons, a process called post-tensioning. Originally, those bands were inserted through the lengths of the pontoons.

The fix involves using the same technique but in a different direction. WSDOT said it would insert the steel bands across the width of the pontoons and compress the concrete, which should eliminate the major cracks.

Washington Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said her department did not follow standards of good practice. She said WSDOT never ran models that tested the pontoon design.

“Engineering is all about analyzing and testing, and checking, whether it’s a pontoon or bridge or highway off ramp. And so I think a step was missed,”she said.

Hammond said she didn’t know why that step was missed, but she said she requested an internal review and heads might roll. “What are the accountabilities for those employees?” she said.

The development comes at a time when there will be a change in leadership at WSDOT. Last week, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new transportation secretary, effective next month.

Hammond said the pontoon problems have been frustrating for her. “I know I’ve taken a very strident approach to lessons learned, what exactly happened, how do we go after making sure this never happens again. And as I leave, if that’s what I can leave the agency, an awareness of what we did wrong and how we can improve ourselves for the future, then I would say that at least that’s a positive note,” she said.

Hammond said the contractor, Kiewit-General Joint Venture, will work to fix the pontoons. The state has about $200 million in its contingency fund to cover the costs. WSDOT will have to negotiate with the contractor to determine which party pays for the repairs of the different cracks, because both WSDOT and Kiewit-General are responsible for the problem.

The work means that the floating section of the bridge will probably open in the fall of 2015, Hammond said. The contract for the floating bridge calls for the project to be open by July 2015, although officials had publicly said they hoped it would be open by the end of 2014.
Follow @DerekJWang on Twitter.

 

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Transportation Nation

LOOK: Gold Line Rail Bridge is California History "With Some Artistry"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority

The Gold Line Bridge in December 2012, just before completion of construction (Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

(Corey Moore - Southern California Public Radio, KPCC) Southern California's Gold Line light rail extension is years away from being complete. But the finishing touches are being put on the bridge that will carry it over the 210 freeway in Arcadia.

When completed in 2015, the light rail line will cross the bridge to travel the 11.5 miles between Pasadena and Azusa. Meanwhile, drivers can ponder the bridge's California touches: a design that incorporates both Native American basketry, and hatch marks similar to the patterns on a Western Diamondback snake.

Rendering of what the bridge will look like with light rail (courtesy Metro Gold Line)

Gold Line Construction Authority CEO Habib Bailan said the Authority didn’t want to build a regular, boring bridge. “You know, I’m so tired of seeing civil projects for governments built in a way that really don’t reflect society or any artistic or aesthetic value," he said. "And we had this opportunity [to] ... do it for minimal cost to enhance the bridge with better architecture and some artistry.”

Another view of the Gold Line Bridge

The supporting section runs perpendicular to the main bridge, and at either end sits a 25-foot high basket made out of woven concrete pieces. Each piece is six feet long and weighs 900 pounds. At the top of each basket are 16 concrete reeds, ranging from two to ten feet high.

British-born designer Andrew Leicester calls the bridge “sculptural history.” He said he created it to honor the native peoples and animals of the San Gabriel Valley.

“One layer, all upon another, all about transportation, moving people and moving goods," he said. "And the baskets serve this function.  They’re kind of an ancient, one of the earliest vessels for carrying goods back and forth.”

Read the whole story over at KPCC. And follow Corey Moore on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

Will This DC Bridge Become a Park?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

An illustration for a park proposed for Washington's old 11th Street Bridge. If realized, the park would span the Anacostia River, linking the Capitol Hill neighborhood with lower-income Anacostia. (Ed Estes/Courtesy of D.C. Office of Planning)

A plan to turn DC's old 11th Street Bridge into a pedestrian park is gaining traction. "What we're proposing to do is to transform this old freeway into a place of active recreation," says one supporter. The city of D.C. and some locals are on board with the idea, but worries about gentrification -- and how to pay for the project -- are hurdles that must be dealt with.

Read more -- and hear the story -- at NPR.

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Transportation Nation

Cuomo: Toll "Too High" on Estimates for New Tappan Zee Bridge

Friday, August 10, 2012

File photo of Governor Cuomo at the Tappan Zee Bridge on November 15, 2010 (photo by Richard Yeh/WNYC)

Although senior staffers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have been out in force defending the proposed toll hike on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the governor is now calling the $14 toll "too high."

It's a new chapter in a series of events that started last Thursday evening, when Larry Schwartz, the secretary to the governor, formally revealed at a community meeting that tolls on the new bridge would almost triple when it opens to traffic in 2017.

The current Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects Rockland and Westchester Counties across the Hudson River, is considered to have outlived its useful life. New York State has been working on plans to replace it for almost a decade, and Governor Cuomo has made jump-starting construction one of his priorities.

Although Cuomo had been saying that tolls on the Tappan Zee would go up when the new bridge opens to traffic in 2017, the number -- which one Albany talk show host referred to as "jaw dropping" in an interview with the governor on Friday --  caught many people off guard, and  the backlash was immediate.

But today the governor struck a different tone in a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority, the agency in charge of the bridge. It was the first time Cuomo backed away from the $14 number.

"I believe the projected 2017 toll schedule based on the Federal Highway Administration’s estimate of up to $5.2 billion for the new bridge is too high," wrote Cuomo. "Over the next five years, we must find alternatives, revenue generators and cost reductions that reduce the potential toll increases." It was not immediately clear what a non-toll revenue generator would be.

To lower future tolls, the NY state is banking on lowering the projected construction costs below the federal estimate of $5.2 billion. Another option would be applying for additional grants to the state from the U.S. Department of Transportation. A spokesperson for the governor's office said that three construction bids are currently under review and that the cost will be the last piece of information to be parsed.

While it will take some time to hash out exactly how much toll revenue is required to build the new Tappan Zee, Cuomo's letter had one immediate effect: the supervisor of one Westchester town cancelled a planned meeting to protest the toll hike. "In light of the Governor’s responsiveness to the concerns of residents who object to the toll hike -- there is no need to have the meeting on August 15th," reads a notice on the Greenburgh web site.

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Transportation Nation

Obama on Infrastructure Repair: "Why Would You Vote Against That?"

Thursday, October 06, 2011

 President Barack Obama during a news conference in the East Room of the White House (photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Obama, who's trying to line up support for his jobs bill, used his press conference today to once again invoke crumbling infrastructure and unemployed construction workers.

His remarks were in the same vein as the speech he delivered last month in front of an "obsolete" bridge. Here are some highlights:

"In Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day.  And, meanwhile, we’ve got millions of laid-off construction workers who could right now be busy rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebluiding schools.  This jobs bill gives them a chance to get back to work rebuilding America.  Why wouldn’t we want that to happen?  Why would you vote against that?"

He went on to chastise Republicans: "My understanding is that for the last decade, they’ve been saying we need to lower taxes for folks.  Well, why wouldn’t we want to do that through this jobs bill?  We know that we’ve got roads and bridges and schools that need to be rebuilt.  And historically, Republicans haven’t been opposed to rebuilding roads and bridges.  Why would you be opposed now?"

But he admitted that the challenges facing the country and its aging infrastructure won't be solved overnight, even if the Senate passes the American Jobs Act.

"I mean, what’s contained in the American jobs bill doesn’t cover all the roads and bridges and infrastructure that needs to be improved around the country.

You can read the full transcript of the president's remarks here.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

A Bridge to ... London?! Historical Map with Grand Rail Plans

Monday, December 06, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota -- Dan Olson, MPR News) Who says people out here in Flyoverland don't dream big  transportation dreams?  Remember the contemporary kerfuffle over the bridge to nowhere?  Well, here's  a circa 1871 vision for a bridge to somewhere -- a rail line from St. Paul to the East Coast, with a bridge to London! Note the heading reads "St. Paul in the year 1900."

It's a map in the Minnesota Historical Society collection in St. Paul.  MnHS curator and map wrangler Patrick Coleman says the idea was created by the Tea Partiers of that era. Check with him for more on that.

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Transportation Nation

Detroiters Wait To Hear Fate Of Proposed Bridge Project

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ambassador Bridge. Image: (CC) by Flickr user mcclouds

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  Detroiters and their counterparts in Windsor, Ontario, Canada are waiting for Michigan legislators to determine the fate of a proposed border crossing.

Legislation supporting the Detroit River International Crossing will die in a state Senate committee unless it’s brought to the Senate floor today. The lame duck legislature is expected to adjourn later today.

A group of Senators is pushing to get the bridge plan out of committee--but they’re still not sure if they have the votes needed.

If the measure isn’t voted on today, new legislation will have to be written next year and a new group of legislators will have to determine whether the project is worthwhile.

Canadian officials have already approved the project and have even offered to help pay for Michigan’s construction costs. The Michigan House passed the bill in May.

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