Sometimes we find adventure right here at home! File this one under ENGINEERING MARVELS!
Wonder where all our fascination with bridges came from on the trip? Why Aaron or I was always yelling “BRIIIDGE!!!”? Well, therein lies a tale.
Let me whet your appetite, though, with just a couple of our most memorable bridges.
For nine years, I, Anner, worked on the SR520 Bridge Replacement Program. I helped my company, HDR, organize the design and building of the replacement to the older of the two bridges crossing Lake Washington here in Seattle. Quick back of the napkin calculation says I spent 21% of my life working on that bridge. 21%! UGH! That’s more than a fifth, I tell you! How could that happen?? Only after quitting and spending the better part of the past two years together did Hubs pull ahead to 22%. Back in 2005 it was supposed to be my latest start-up project, but then one thing lead to the next….and, well, that story ended in 2014 with a one-way ticket to Central America and this blog.
Yesterday was the big ribbon cutting announcing the opening of the new 520! Aaron and I knew we had to join the festivities. What’s the big deal about this bridge? Hard to even know where to begin. The big claim to fame is that at 7,710 feet (1.4 miles) the SR520 Bridge is the world’s longest floating bridge. Yes. It floats! Right on top of beautiful Lake Washington.
It floats thanks to a phenomena called “displacement” (as in, a whole lotta water was displaced) and 77 concrete pontoons the size of football fields (which did the displacing) — I’ve been inside one and they are BA-IG!
So after all those years of hard work by untold numbers of people, yesterday was ribbon cutting day! It was pretty darn awesome! Let’s take a look around.
The new 520 bridge comes with its own water treatment system. All the storm water that used to hit the old bridge, washing oil and icky car-stuff into the lake, is no more! Cleanliness is the name of the new game.
Being out on the bridge, we ran into SO many folks we knew – both coworkers of mine and friends just out touring like we were. We didn’t get pics of all the friends and all the hugs. The blog would be VERY long if we did. Having just returned home this proved to be really overwhelming and I had a lot of trouble falling asleep last night. Here’s just a couple of our reunions.
As the politicians stood and speechified, claiming the bridge as their own, I flashed on the throngs of dedicated staff who worked day after day, year after year, to make this Opening Day a reality. I did my part for sure, but there are so many that did even more. I’m so glad to share with them this bridge that will always have a special place in my heart and made me come to appreciate bridges around the world. I hope that when other world travelers come to Seattle, one of them yells “BRIIIIIIDGE” and insists her husband join her on a walk across the lake. I hope she looks down at the water forty feet below and marvels at what a cool bridge this is. I know I did!
Happy Ribbon Cutting Day everyone!