A tale of three Bridge - 2007
The New Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The new suspension bridge is being built parallel to and south of the existing bridge, providing two general purpose and a HOV lane for eastbound traffic. The new bridge will include a separated path for bicycles and pedestrians.
New parallel bridge completed by: Early 2007
1950 bridge (retrofit) completed by: Early 2008
In September 2002, construction began on Tacoma Narrows Bridge III. Two years later, the project was nearly half complete.
By September 2004, bridge builder Tacoma Narrows Constructors had finished the two bridge caissons, or tower foundations, in the water. On land, they were paving new roadways, building the east and west anchorages and numerous retaining walls, and installing drainage facilities. They had completed two half-diamond interchanges and a highway underpass, and had started building the toll facility. Along the way, the project remained right on schedule.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge III is the largest suspension bridge built in the United States since 1964. Its foundations stand a mere 60 feet south of the current bridge's foundations. This $849 million project will also improve 2.4 miles of State Route 16, and will renovate the existing bridge with seismic upgrades and a new deck.
From shipyard to port. Massive tugs gently coax a gentle giant of a caisson from the Port of Tacoma to its final resting place just south of the existing bridge. Above the water line can be seen corrugated steel panels, which are the caisson's "steel skin," providing a watertight environment for placing concrete in the dry. Favorable tides, knowledgeable mariners and a tremendous amount of planning contributed to a smooth and successful voyage. Summer 2003
Getting to 'Pier-Top City.' For six months, caisson workers trekked across makeshift walkways under the existing bridge, and climbed down 20 flights of stairs to reach 'Pier Top City.' The men and women worked two 12-hour shifts to build up the caisson walls. Here, a worker with Tacoma Narrows Constructors helps build construction platform on a caisson to provide easier access to coworkers. Spring 2003
Night fell, crews kept on. Lights illuminating the caisson at night allowed crews to keep up an aggressive construction schedule almost around the clock. Fall 2003
A manmade canyon. The eastern (Tacoma) anchorage was built into a site excavated almost 65 feet deep. The man standing at the top right of the photo is dwarfed by the hole that was filled with reinforced concrete, shortly thereafter. Summer 2003
Serene image belies rapid progress. Whether working in rain or shine, crews forged ahead to complete construction on both caissons by Summer 2004. Derrick barges provided work platforms for crews, equipment and supplies. Fall 2003
A bird's eye view. Only birds and airplane pilots enjoy this view of the Narrows Bridge, new bridge construction. The graceful lines of the existing Tacoma Narrows Bridge will soon have a sister bridge built just 185-feet south of it. Put another way, the caissons of both bridges are mere 60 feet apart. Worldwide, only a handful of cities boast twin suspension bridges. Fall 2003
Working on water. The white structures, or "birdcages," sitting on each Gig Harbor tower leg house the concrete forms that crews use to place concrete as the towers rise. Jutting from the top of the forms is steel rebar that reinforce the tower concrete. A retractable walkway (lower left) provides construction access to the towers from the existing bridge. Summer 2004
Bridge-building in swift currents. The apparent whitewater rapids shown here are actually water churning from tidal currents in the Narrows channel. During the construction of bridge foundations, called caissons, the currents reached up to 7.4 knots, creating unique marine challenges to the designers and builders. Summer 2003
Birth of a tower. With the 1950 bridge looming in the background, a female worker focuses on the task at hand - pouring the first concrete of the new towers. Reinforced with bright green steel rebar, the concrete towers will rise 510 feet into the sky to stand regally next to their more mature bridge companions. Summer 2004
Our 'parallel' future. Imagine a twin bridge just 185-feet south of the 1950 span. In Spring 2007 it will be reality. This virtual view of the Bridge - from the site of the former Living War Memorial Park (Tacoma) - is a preview of the parallel bridge to come.