A Tale of Three Bridges - 1950
"Sturdy Gertie" - This First Narrows Bridge
The second Narrows Bridge, labeled "Sturdy Gertie"
by the newspapers and local promoters, opened to great fanfare. A large crowd, plus
dignitaries and other politicians, attended the gala event.
At one mile in length, the existing 1950 bridge is the fifth longest
bridge in the United States and represents the best of suspension bridge
design, stability and engineering.
Following Gertie's demise, World War II delayed construction of Tacoma
Narrows Bridge II for a full eight years. Shortages of steel and wire made
such materials valuable commodities. Washington sold bridge steel as surplus,
and the remains of the 1940 bridge cables and span were scraped.
The state financed the second bridge through a $14,000,000 bond issue.
When the bridge opened in 1950, tolls were almost the same as for Gertie.
The bridge remained a toll facility until the bonds were retired in May 1965, 13 years
ahead of schedule.