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Author Topic: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?  (Read 1541 times)

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Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« on: April 23, 2018, 03:59:50 PM »

A lot of people, including architects, deem this bridge as unsightly, ugly, and a violation of taste. Baycrossings.com describes it as this:


Quote
You certainly can’t call the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge beautiful, magnificent, dramatic, or even graceful, and certainly no architect had anything to do with it. The bridge appears to sag in the middle and resembles a camel with two humps. In any case there it is, The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was completed in 1956 to replace ferry service that had operated since the early part of the last century. Senior Editor F. Weston Starratt looks at this ugly duckling’s history and the major facelift it’s getting.[/font]


Here's the bridge in all its glory or drab, depending on who you ask:




Personally, I quite like it. The arches, peaks, bends, and dips, to me, are aesthetically pleasing and it ranks high on my list of good-looking bridges. Even if I wasn't obsessed with truss bridges I'd probably still like it.
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SteveG1988

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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 02:07:56 PM »

I think it is because it seems to be the "cheap" bridge, built cheaply. Intentionally reusing the same main span design, requiring that low section in the middle to allow the two spans to connect.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2018, 04:31:00 PM »

I think it is because it seems to be the "cheap" bridge, built cheaply. Intentionally reusing the same main span design, requiring that low section in the middle to allow the two spans to connect.

Part of that "double-hump" design is to accommodate the twin shipping channels in the San Pablo Bay; the easternmost one is primarily utilized for ship traffic to the refineries along the Contra Costa coastline (and formerly for freighters carrying raw Hawaiian sugar cane to the old C & H plant in Crockett); the western one was primarily utilized by the U.S. Navy to access repair facilities in the Vallejo area as well as the towpath for decommissioned ships destined for the Suisun Bay "junkyard".  With diminished Navy traffic these days, ships bound for the port facilities in Stockton or West Sacramento usually follow the more westerly path to avoid the refinery water traffic.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 05:26:35 PM »

It gets the job done, and it is an Interstate highway.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 11:27:40 AM »

I think it is because it seems to be the "cheap" bridge, built cheaply. Intentionally reusing the same main span design, requiring that low section in the middle to allow the two spans to connect.

Part of that "double-hump" design is to accommodate the twin shipping channels in the San Pablo Bay; the easternmost one is primarily utilized for ship traffic to the refineries along the Contra Costa coastline (and formerly for freighters carrying raw Hawaiian sugar cane to the old C & H plant in Crockett); the western one was primarily utilized by the U.S. Navy to access repair facilities in the Vallejo area as well as the towpath for decommissioned ships destined for the Suisun Bay "junkyard".  With diminished Navy traffic these days, ships bound for the port facilities in Stockton or West Sacramento usually follow the more westerly path to avoid the refinery water traffic.

Yup, i wasn't making fun of the engineering, it is actually quite sound, and the bridge is one of the sturdiest in the region. It's the Toyota Camry of bridges, well engineered, built to last...but to most people it is a meh.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2018, 02:50:48 PM »

Compared to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael doesn't look so bad.  It just has the misfortune of being in the same area as the Golden Gate Bridge is!

Rick
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 03:56:28 PM »

I think the design is perfectly acceptable.  Not everything is going to be the Golden Gate Bridge.  I really like the double deck truss design.  Personally I’d still have it part of CA 17 if I had my way.

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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2018, 04:09:01 PM »

Yup, i wasn't making fun of the engineering, it is actually quite sound, and the bridge is one of the sturdiest in the region. It's the Toyota Camry of bridges, well engineered, built to last...but to most people it is a meh.
Compared to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael doesn't look so bad.  It just has the misfortune of being in the same area as the Golden Gate Bridge is!

Rick

As the owner of a Camry with 205K miles on it, that is one good analogy!  And Rick's essentially right -- the Richmond bridge is sited in between two bridges (to the south and southwest) that epitomize the elegance of the suspension design and another -- and much newer (the Zampa/I-80 WB Carquinez Strait crossing) example of the genre.  Visually, in comparison, there's no contest; the Richmond bridge is a Bauhaus exemplar -- strictly function over form.

But it's absolutely gorgeous in comparison with some other truss structures of note, particularly the I-5/Interstate bridge pair in metro PDX -- a structure that I would classify as "fugly".

I think the design is perfectly acceptable.  Not everything is going to be the Golden Gate Bridge.  I really like the double deck truss design.  Personally I’d still have it part of CA 17 if I had my way.

I remember when the CA 17 signs came down and I-880 (and I-238 as well) signs went up during the summer and fall of 1986.  Back then, road rehab funds could be obtained for Interstate routes (even non-chargeable ones), which was the rationale behind the redesignation -- and the resulting upgrade projects on I-880 were actually done over time.  But it left CA 17 a mere shadow of its former self (not unlike its cousin to the west, CA 9).   
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 04:55:31 PM »

Compared to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael doesn't look so bad.  It just has the misfortune of being in the same area as the Golden Gate Bridge is!

Rick


The Astoria-Megler in my opinion's also a very nice looking bridge. If I recall correctly, it's one of the longest cantilever truss spans in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the longest in the world, although doesn't take the cake for everything.








It's visually impressive too, being right up against Astoria, which is a neat little town.


Oregon also has lots of other neat bridges, like the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge.





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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 04:57:19 PM »


But it's absolutely gorgeous in comparison with some other truss structures of note, particularly the I-5/Interstate bridge pair in metro PDX -- a structure that I would classify as "fugly".
 


I think this is where my bias towards truss bridges starts to kick in.  :spin:  I think this one's also nice-looking.


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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2018, 07:12:10 PM »

Compared to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael doesn't look so bad.  It just has the misfortune of being in the same area as the Golden Gate Bridge is!

Rick


The Astoria-Megler in my opinion's also a very nice looking bridge. If I recall correctly, it's one of the longest cantilever truss spans in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the longest in the world, although doesn't take the cake for everything.








It's visually impressive too, being right up against Astoria, which is a neat little town.


Oregon also has lots of other neat bridges, like the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge.







Technically the astoria bridge is a continous truss, which isn't 100% the same as a cantiliver.

Back to the bridge at hand, the design is one that fits the needs of the crossing, versus the new oakland bay bridge span that is form over function.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2018, 10:30:58 PM »

A lot of people, including architects, deem this bridge as unsightly, ugly, and a violation of taste.

Strongly disagree.  It's a nice looking distant cousin of the lost original US 17 Cooper River Bridges in Charleston, SC.


Someone please explain how the southern truss section of the Astoria Bridge qualifies as a continuous truss instead of a cantilever.  My understanding was continuous trusses have either more rounded top chord shapes over the piers (EB US 40 over the Missouri River at Chesterfield, MO) or have no elevation change for the top chords over the piers (such as the newer Ohio River Bridge on former US 21 at Marietta, OH, while the Astoria Bridge has the upper chord peaks common to most cantilever truss bridges.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2018, 10:55:19 PM »

Compared to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael doesn't look so bad.  It just has the misfortune of being in the same area as the Golden Gate Bridge is!

Rick


The Astoria-Megler in my opinion's also a very nice looking bridge. If I recall correctly, it's one of the longest cantilever truss spans in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the longest in the world, although doesn't take the cake for everything.








It's visually impressive too, being right up against Astoria, which is a neat little town.


Oregon also has lots of other neat bridges, like the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge.







The McCullough Bridge is in my hometown.  Unlike the Astoria-Megler bridge, ours is entirely "bridge".  That structure is a bit of bridge and a whole lot of causeway, which is not so attractive in my eyes.

Rick
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2018, 01:21:30 PM »

Someone please explain how the southern truss section of the Astoria Bridge qualifies as a continuous truss instead of a cantilever.

Ultimately this is a question of how it is supported structurally.

A cantilever span has its weight supported entirely by the two piers under the "humps", with the sections on either side counterbalanced by the section in the middle. If you knocked away the piers on the ends, the entire cantilever section would remain standing and be perfectly stable.

If it is simply a continuous truss, it relies on the piers on the ends to support some of the weight of the structure. So if you knocked them away, the truss would collapse.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 01:23:48 PM by Duke87 »
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2018, 02:50:21 PM »

I think the word that best describes the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is "serpentine". It has character, if not pure aesthetic beauty. And the comment about it suffering from being so close to two world-renowned structures is spot-on as well. Count me in the "I like it" category.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2018, 03:06:35 PM »


But it's absolutely gorgeous in comparison with some other truss structures of note, particularly the I-5/Interstate bridge pair in metro PDX -- a structure that I would classify as "fugly".
 


I think this is where my bias towards truss bridges starts to kick in.  :spin:  I think this one's also nice-looking.




From the side, the Interstate's just weird; driving over it (particularly NB) is where it gets really ugly, IMO -- the undulations block one's line of sight, and you see what looks like rising pavement and/or blocking cross-braces in your path; it's somewhat disconcerting.  When I lived in PDX ('93-'97), I needed to use it at least once a week; I always was glad to get off it and into Vancouver.  Didn't help that several time I was caught in drawbridge openings -- but those experiences didn't alter my impression of the bridge's visual aspects; those were formed back in the '70's when I first encountered the structure.  It's too bad the region and the two states involved haven't been able to get their act together to effect a replacement!
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2018, 01:52:41 PM »

Someone please explain how the southern truss section of the Astoria Bridge qualifies as a continuous truss instead of a cantilever.

Ultimately this is a question of how it is supported structurally.

A cantilever span has its weight supported entirely by the two piers under the "humps", with the sections on either side counterbalanced by the section in the middle. If you knocked away the piers on the ends, the entire cantilever section would remain standing and be perfectly stable.

If it is simply a continuous truss, it relies on the piers on the ends to support some of the weight of the structure. So if you knocked them away, the truss would collapse.

The astoria bridge is basically one long truss span spread over multiple piers. Versus a cantiliver which has a center truss span supported by the two side spans. That is really the only difference. A good example is the betsy ross bridge in Philadelphia. Shows the concept rather well due to the size of the truss itself.

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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 11:44:46 AM »

It's simple and rather elegant in its simplicity. I think for many people it reminds them of a lot of smaller old bridges from the early 20th century when bridges with several trusses were very common, so it looks old even though its almost 20 years newer than the Golden Gate.
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Re: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Thoughts?
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2018, 11:04:02 AM »

I won't lie, that is one gorgeous truss bridge. Makes the Tappan Zee look like crap.

 


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