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Projects : Golden Gate Bridge Exhibit

Golden Gate Bridge Outdoor Exhibition


Deck Torsional Resistance

Completed in 1937, the design of the Golden Gate Bridge did not benefit from knowledge about the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940, which twisted itself to collapse in a moderate breeze. After a windstorm on December 1, 1951, the Golden Gate Bridge was retrofitted in 1954 with horizontal diagonal bracing between the bottom edges of the vertical deck trusses. This makes the deck much harder to twist, which is felt by the visitor in this comparison of pre- and post-retrofit bridge decks.

STATUS: Due to damage to the current exhibit installed in the Wind and Seismic Exhibit area; another model has been fabricated.

[read more about this exhibit]

Close-up of sample deck model with red lines showing the torsional bracing [pre- and post-retrofit]
Deck models with handles for visitor interaction.
Deck models are later painted to match the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo taken: 05/10/12

To prevent potential damage to the models from user interaction, a restraining system was devised to prevent over- torquing.

Drawing by Reitherman.

Alternate design for restraining system.

Drawing by Reitherman.

Princeton engineering student, Tara Weigard was the principal designer of the torsional-resistance models.
Close-up view of the current restraining bar as shown on the actual exhibit.
Sadly vandalism is still an ongoing concern as shown. The damaged model is in the process of being refabricated by Princeton University.

Photo taken: 8/5/2012

Funding for the project has been provided by the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation. Dr. Al DeSena is the NSF project officer for this award. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

All images are the property of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and cannot be re-used without its permission. Contact Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director,

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Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 05.27.14