FROM GALLOPING GERTIE TO WHISTLING GOLDIE

FROM GALLOPING GERTIE TO WHISTLING GOLDIE

I knew, when V.T. emailed this story, that I'd have to blog about it, because it's about another one of my "favorite things," and not because it has any special major news worthiness; it's not about riots, burning cities, Baal and Malicious Gates, faulty virus studies, or odd tan lines because of wearing surgical masks. It's not about anything important. It's more in the line of my fascination for engineering "stuff," and hence you can file this one in the same category as my fascination for steam locomotives (and why "they" are restoring and actually using them), for "really big artillery", for roller coasters and so on. Well, another one of my "favorite things" are bridges, especially big ones, and especially suspension bridges.

It seems that a recent "refit" of San Francisco's famous and iconic Golden Gate Bridge has caused it to "whistle" in high winds:

'A giant wheezing kazoo': Golden Gate Bridge starts to 'sing' after design fix

Why the Golden Gate Bridge made strange noises with the wind Friday

Ok, so what? Now the Golden Gate "whistles" when the wind is right. Big deal.

Well, it may really be a big deal, if we explore a few questions, and do a little background digging. The Golden Gate is a marvel of engineering, especially if you consider that its graceful lines, its massive central span, and its status as an icon of the state of California, were all done in the 1930s, with 1930s technology. The bridge was outfitted with new panels along the sidewalk and bike paths to either side of the main roadbed of the bridge, which slats in turn, with their holes, turn the span into a big whistle when wind conditions are right. So here's the explanation for the retrofit  from the U.K.'s Guardian:

City officials offered an explanation for the sound, which can seemingly be heard several miles away.

Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, a Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District spokesperson, said the sounds stemmed from long-planned wind retrofitting.

“The new musical tones coming from the bridge are a known and inevitable phenomenon that stem from our wind retrofit project during very high winds. The wind retrofit project is designed to make the Bridge more aerodynamic under high wind conditions and is necessary to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the Bridge for generations to come,” Cosulich-Schwartz said.

“We knew going into the handrail replacement that the bridge would sing during exceptionally high winds from the west, as we saw yesterday. We are pleased to see the new railing is allowing wind to flow more smoothly across the bridge.” (Italics added)

When the Golden Gate was designed, its architects deliberately had to make the bridge flexible and aerodynamic enough to "bend" laterally with high winds. When traveling across it, one may seem like one is traveling straight, but in reality, the roadbed deflects in an eastward direction by several feet, depending on wind conditions.  Hence, it's that little statement, italicized in the quotation above, that makes me wonder: if the bridge was originally designed to deflect laterally, what made the retrofit necessary? Had decades of use required the bridge to become more flexible? And if the bridge is now whistling in a way it did not before, could resonance factors eventually occur that the bridge might not be able to damp? Probably not; after all, it's stood this long through all sorts of weather conditions. But, the question is there, hovering rather uneasily in the background.

Now, you may have noticed that the title of this blog mentions another famous, or rather, infamous suspension bridge, the first Tacoma  Narrows Bridge of 1940, a span known now by her nickname, Galloping Gertie. When she was completed, Gertie was the third largest suspension bridge in the world, and also one with an enormous central span. During her construction, the crews noted that the roadbed of the bridge gently undulated in the breeze blowing down the narrows. During her grand opening, for example, the parade across the bridge had to contend with gentle waves moving down the roadbed as it bobbed up and down in the wind.

On November 7, 1940, a strong gale moved through the Narrows, however, which caused the roadbed to twist and oscillate, and the bridge, unable to damp these oscillations, eventually collapsed that day. You've probably seen the videos:

Now I include this video for a very important reason, for you will note that the panels along the sidewalks on either side were solid, there was no way for air to move through those panels; it could only go over or under the panels. In mild wind, the was not a problem, the roadbed gently rose and fell; but during the gale that eventually brought the span down, the oscillating movement was set up, and the bridge was unable to damp it; the resonance grew, and the central span collapsed. The causes of the collapse are debated to this day. (Q.v., Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940)

Fortunately, the Golden Gate was not originally designed with solid side panels... but the question nonetheless remains: why was a new retrofit of the side panels of the Golden Gate recently done? Was it necessary? Or just a precaution? Or, to put it country simple, what, if anything, are we not being told?

See you on the...

...oh, wait, I forgot to mention. The chief architect of Galloping Gertie was Leon Moisseiff.

Oddly enough, his theories were applied in the design of the Golden Gate bridge, on which project he served as a consultant.

That's all.

Have a nice day.

See you on the flip side...

 

36 thoughts on “FROM GALLOPING GERTIE TO WHISTLING GOLDIE”

  1. There were no photos of the replacements but I suspect a major, unspoken reason for the changes in the pedestrian railings is to prevent suicides and the whistling is an unavoidable by-product of a secure design.

  2. I was still living in the Bay Area when the bridge was shut down after the 1989 Earthquake, it didn’t collapse like part of the Oakland bridge but it did need some upkeep and repairing and it seemed a good time to do it.

    Even the original architect was still alive, consulted, and was there in his wheelchair for the grand reopening.

    Thousand of people lined up to cross the bridge (I didn’t go) and once they started something weird happened – the bridge started to swing.

    The more people got on the more it was swinging and I don’t remember all the details but the walk had to be stoped and modified.

    It seems to many people just walking on the bridge could make it swing and in a rather worrying fashion.

    This was a big new story at the time, I do wonder if a couple of decades on, they have realized this was an even bigger problem for the long term than they realized?

    things that make you go hmmm

    Oh and there is a “Troll” under the Bay Bridge, the Norwegian engineers suck it in because it is “bad luck” to have a bridge without a Troll, it can only be seen from boats going under the bridge. The Troll is at the original “breakpoint” of the partial collapse.

  3. Hmmm….maybe the forces being newly accommodated are 832 times denser than the forces it currently deals with.
    After major earth changes like inundation and/or subsidence events the railings may have to deal with occasional wave tops…?

  4. A brilliant musician surely could write a symphony incorporating the tones–now that would be wonderful!

  5. Saw the Mayor of Minneapolis booed out of a protester’s avenue as he skulked the walk of shame for not being willing to abolish the police yesterday. Today read that 9 out of 13 board members have the veto proof vote to eliminate the police per protester’s demands.
    No police. Just like Compton. Nice eh? Didn’t this kind of thing get done all over the US in the 1930’s?
    Think crime will disappear now? Or the data that says it exists?

    1. Wow. The wife just put “Spirited Away” on the dvd player. Winds making buildings moan. Spirits in little houses.

  6. In getting my degree as an aerodynamicist, we studied the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as a case study in resonance and damping (important for wings, also!). The key take-away was that it is very hard to predict real-world (full scale) resonances from either scale models or computer models. So, you did what you could, and then had to instrument the newly-built object (bridge, skyscraper, wing, etc.) to determine how it really flexed. Once you got real-world data, you could extrapolate what winds and gusts could do to it, and determine whether there were ‘hidden’ dangers. If so, and most important, you would intelligently ‘change things’ until the resonance went away or moved-into very unlikely conditions.

    As regards the Golden Gate Bridge, one hopes the latter steps are being taken. Little changes can lead to big effects, if you hit just the right resonance…

    1. That’s more reason to leave it alone, right? If it’s lasted this long this well, what’s to fix? What else might they have messed up with this tweak?

  7. marcos toledo

    I assume the designer of the Tacoma bridge learned from his mistake when designing the Golden State bridge. But why the change now that causing this eerie sound could this be a dry run for destroying the USA infrastructure in one fell swoop.

    1. How often do you get to the states from PR, Marcos? More to the point, how much farther does US infrastructure gotta fall before it’s destroyed enough?

      1. marcos toledo

        The last time I was in the states was I think the 1990s. An if you think is going to hell over there come to PR, it’s collapsing real fast it won’t be long before the deluge of refugees empty this island of everybody but the extreme poor zendogbreath.

  8. Another possible reason for the bridge work, non-nefarious, is that with storm intensities increasing worldwide, the bridge may have been modified to reduce wind stress to levels contemplated by the original design. That said, the new bridge panels should have been wind tunnel tested to prove their efficiency in reducing drag. Would not such testing reveal this whistling? If so, it should have been eliminated. Was redesign cost too much? For many people, driving across a high bridge is scary enough without whistling crosswinds. Is the sonic stress likely to distract drivers and increase risk of collision? A factor to consider in high wind conditions. We have an epidemic of bad design in America, driven by the rush to cut costs in getting products to market. If I had a bridge now whistling in the dark, I’d be looking to find why. Before something bit me in the ass.

    1. Robert Barricklow

      Apparently the analog whistle means business.
      Was the refit designed by flawless algorithms?
      Is that the Silicon spirit whistling a familiar trope that markets are part of human nature, beyond control of humans and their elected officials, and are best left to operate in their free and wild state. The Silicon spirit whistling about the future and “our” place in it. The whistle’s about the Silicon Valley’s inevitability, and that no intervention can stop the music. Any such interventions; frankly, are seen as undesirable and/or impossible. It is, after all, part of Silicon Valley’s infallible designs for mankind.
      The Silicon Valley’s spirit is laced w/technology; absolving people of responsibility to change it and weds them to the technological projections in command.

      Remember Big Data scientists paint in which algorithms will bridge a future for us all that will determine everything!
      And “they’re” not just whistling Dixie!

  9. Ran across this in a comment conversation from
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZiUoNEWFwM
    Protests, The Purge & Controlled Chaos
    Jay Dyer got us talking about various aspects, types and sources of psyops. That got us on to talking about the Blavatsky history of Icke, Jordan Maxwell, Foster Gamble, Peter Joseph, David Wilcock, AJ, and others.

    One commenters turned me on to
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0lOwpezwcU
    What’s Really Coming (FULL SERIES)
    E511 Ministries

    Guess we’re still looking for a more comprehensive higher altitude view of this whole schema.

  10. Panels on the Golden Gate Bridge? This sounds very fishy to me. Last time we saw anything resembling this we were left with an event involving sky scrapers in Manhattan that disappeared on the horizon in a veil of dust.

    1. Robert Barricklow

      Ah!
      Good one OrgensChild!

      The Golden Gate Bridge is being refitted for an upcoming staring role; in a 9/11-type spectacular Global Presentation?

      Loved It!

  11. Someone wants a new bridge contract and their new design to be the marvel of the world? They want to make a name for themselves but first have to compromise the work life of the original in the name of safety to have chance of getting it done in their lifetime? Perhaps there is a new theoretical bridge design someone is itching to try out?

      1. Like button. Surprised Google let you find such subversive sites. Reminds of when they built the Malcolm X monument, that China got that contract too. Couple others like that as well.

        1. I mostly use the Brave browser because it has few ads and allows me to tip some deplatformed alternative news providers without spending my own money. I use different browsers for different uses because some are better at somethings than others.

      2. Robert Barricklow

        Great find Roger!
        So like our so-called governments[State, Local, National] that are whistling echoes of empty representation, like Rockefailure bird conventions: they’re cheap, cheap, cheap; reeking through & through; inside & out,
        of globalized outsourcing. International to the bone.

  12. What if it was retrofitted to play the song, “If your going to San Francisco”. Ha! Just a silly thought, but why not.

    1. Or Van Halen’s “Jump”? Curious if suicides increase or decrease off that bridge now. Dark.

  13. What are the FREQUENCIES of this “whistling”? And in the inaudible range? If the bridge becomes a huge “wind instrument” (it apparently already was to a certain extent), what could the effects be?

    1. DT, you set me up. I cannot resist this. The San Francisco Bridge will not be permitted to become the state’s largest wind instrument. That job is filled. From a place known for it’s high desert winds, Nancy Pelosi is the largest wind instrument CA has ever produced to date.

    2. Wonder what those frequencies do to the life forms near enough to sense it – consciously and unconsciously.

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