Thursday, October 9, 2014

Washington's Deception Pass Bridge Took A Deceptively Short Time To Build

Continuing on with my extremely popular series of bloggings looking at bridges which took around four years, or less, to build, in my continuing quest to get an answer as to why it is projected to take four years for Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle to build Three Bridges Over Nothing, today we are going to take a look at one of the most iconic bridges of the Pacific Northwest, Deception Pass Bridge.

Deception Pass Bridge is a short distance from where I lived  in Washington. Deception Pass State Park has some of my all time favorite hiking trails. It is a place I frequented frequently and a bridge I've crossed countless times.

A couple blurbs from the Wikipedia Deception Pass Bridge article, along with Wikipedia's bulleted list of facts about this bridge.

In the spring of 1792, Joseph Whidbey, master of HMS Discovery and Captain Vancouver's chief navigator proved that it was not really a small bay as charted by the Spaniards (hence the name "Deception"), but a deep and turbulent channel that connects the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the Saratoga Passage, which separates the mainland from what they believed was a peninsula (actually Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island). Thomas Coupe, a sea captain and founder of Coupeville, was the only man ever to sail a full-rigged ship through the strait discovered by Whidbey.

The bridge, one of the scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest, is actually two spans, one over Canoe Pass to the north, and another over Deception Pass to the south. The Wallace Bridge and Structural Co. of Seattle, Washington provided 460 tons of steel for the 511-foot Canoe Pass arch and 1130 tons for the 976-foot Deception Pass span. The cost of the New Deal-era construction was $482,000, made possible through the Public Works Administration and county funds.

Bridge Facts
  • Height from water to roadway: about 180 feet, depending on the tide
  • Roadway: two 11-foot lanes, one in each direction
  • Sidewalks: 3 foot sidewalk on each side
  • Width of bridge deck: 28 feet
  • Total length: 1487 feet (more than a quarter mile)
  • Canoe Pass: one 350-ft arch and three concrete T-beam approach spans
  • Deception Pass: two 175-ft cantilever spans, one 200-ft suspended span, and four concrete T-beam approach spans
  • Vehicle crossings: 20,000 per day, average
  • Maximum speed of current in Deception Pass at flood/ebb tide: 9 kts
  • Maximum speed of current in Canoe Pass at flood/ebb tide: 10 kts
  • Suicides from jumping from the bridge total 12 in 2009 and 15 in 2010
I really do not think that suicide count can possibly be correct. Over the years there have been bridge jumpers, but 25 in a two year period? I think this would have been something I'd heard about.

A couple things from the Wikipedia article stood out to me. One was the mention made of the bridge being one of the scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Do you think a Wikipedia article in the future will be referring to Fort Worth's Bridges Over Nothing as one of the scenic wonders of North Texas?

Did you notice that the Deception Pass Bridge was not built over nothing? But built high above extremely fast moving water.

When there is an extreme tide level differential the water moving through Deception Pass is an amazing display of hydraulic force.

So, you must be wondering how long it took to build this feat of bridge engineering.


Construction began in August of 1934.

And was completed and opened to traffic on July 31, 1935.

The Deception Pass Bridge took less than a year to build.

On the left you are looking at a postcard showing Deception Pass Bridge under construction.

I took this picture postcard from a blogging I blogged years ago on my Washington blog about Deception Pass Bridge.

Now I ask, yet again, how in the world can Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Boondoggle's Three Bridges Over Nothing take four years to build?  The Bridges Over Nothing are simple, relatively small bridges. There is no feat of engineering involved in the Boondoggle's bridges.

Four years? How can it take four years to build these vitally important bridges which are key to building the un-needed flood diversion channel which may, someday, flow under the bridges, giving them, finally, a reason for being?

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