Hood Canal Bridge

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Hood Canal Bridge
USS Ohio (SSBN-726) at Hood Canal Bridge.jpg
USS Ohio (SSGN-726) maneuvers through the drawspan to her homeport in Bangor
Coordinates 47°51′36″N122°37′30″W / 47.86°N 122.625°W / 47.86; -122.625 Coordinates: 47°51′36″N122°37′30″W / 47.86°N 122.625°W / 47.86; -122.625
CarriesWA-104.svg SR 104
Crosses Hood Canal of Puget Sound
Locale Kitsap and Jefferson counties, Washington, U.S.
Official name William A. Bugge Bridge
Other name(s)Hood Canal Floating Bridge
Maintained by Washington State DOT
Design Pontoon bridge with retractable draw span
Total length7,869 ft (1.49 mi; 2.40 km)
Longest span600 ft (183 m) (drawspan)
Construction startJanuary 1958
Construction cost$26.6 million
OpenedAugust 12, 1961
Daily traffic 13327 (2002) [1]
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Hood Canal Bridge
USA Washington relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Hood Canal Bridge

The Hood Canal Bridge (officially William A. Bugge Bridge) is a floating bridge in the northwest United States, located in western Washington. [2] It carries State Route 104 across Hood Canal of Puget Sound and connects the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. At 7,869 feet (1.490 mi; 2.398 km) in length (floating portion 6,521 feet (1.235 mi; 1.988 km)), it is the longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin, and the third longest floating bridge overall. First opened 58 years ago in 1961, it was the second concrete floating bridge constructed in Washington. Since that time, it has become a vital link for local residents, freight haulers, commuters, and recreational travelers. The convenience it provides has had a major impact on economic development, especially in eastern Jefferson County. [3]

Pontoon bridge Type of bridge

A pontoon bridge, also known as a floating bridge, uses floats or shallow-draft boats to support a continuous deck for pedestrian and vehicle travel. The buoyancy of the supports limits the maximum load they can carry.

Pacific Northwest Region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and (loosely) by the Cascade Mountain Range on the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) and the U.S. states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Broader conceptions reach north into Southeast Alaska and Yukon, south into northern California, and east to the Continental Divide to include Western Montana and parts of Wyoming. Narrower conceptions may be limited to the coastal areas west of the Cascade and Coast mountains. The variety of definitions can be attributed to partially overlapping commonalities of the region's history, culture, geography, society, and other factors.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.


The bridge is officially named after William A. Bugge (1900–1992), the director of the Department of Highways from 1949 to 1963, who was a leader in the planning and construction of the bridge. The bridge, however, has continued to be popularly known as the Hood Canal Bridge.

William Adair Bugge was a civil engineer who played a major role in the development of the transportation infrastructure of the West Coast of the United States during the latter half of the 20th century.


Design, fabrication, and construction

Seen from the north (Termination Point) Hood Canal Bridge 02.jpg
Seen from the north (Termination Point)
Hood Canal Bridge from Buena Vista Cemetery, Port Gamble, Washington. Hood Canal Bridge from Buena Vista Cemetery, Port Gamble, WA.jpg
Hood Canal Bridge from Buena Vista Cemetery, Port Gamble, Washington.
Aerial view of the bridge's southeast half, with drawspan section at far left Hood Canal Bridge aerial in 2007 - southeast half.jpg
Aerial view of the bridge's southeast half, with drawspan section at far left

The design and planning process for the Hood Canal Bridge took nearly a decade amid criticism from some engineers throughout that time. Critics questioned the use of floating pontoons over salt water, especially at a location with high tide fluctuations and the concern that the funneling effect of the Hood Canal might magnify the intensity of winds and tides. The depth of the water, however, made construction of support columns for other bridge types prohibitively expensive. [4] The water depth below the pontoons ranges from 80 to 340 feet (25 to 105 m). [3] In its marine environment, the bridge is exposed to tidal swings of 16.5 feet (5 m). [5]

Pontoon (boat) flotation device; airtight hollow structures that is buoyant in water

A pontoon boat is a flattish boat that relies on pontoons to float. These pontoons contain a lot of reserve buoyancy and allow designers to create massive deck plans fitted with all sorts of accommodations, such as expansive lounge areas, stand-up bars, and sun pads. Better tube design has also allowed builders to put ever-increasing amounts of horsepower on the stern. Pontoon boat drafts may be as shallow as eight inches, which reduces risk of running aground and underwater damage. The pontoon effect is when a large force applied to the side capsizes a pontoon boat without much warning, particularly a top-heavy boat.

The pontoons for the bridge were fabricated in the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle; during fabrication, two of the pontoons sank. When they were attached for the first time, and then towed into place and anchored, sea conditions in the Hood Canal were too severe and the pontoons were returned to a nearby bay until a better method of attaching could be devised. The structural engineers and the contractor decided the design was faulty. A new contractor was hired and the design modified. It was decided to use a large rubber dam between each of the two pontoons as they were attached, clean the concrete surfaces of all marine growth, epoxy, and tension them with a number of cables welded to a variety of attachment points. This system seemed to work from when the bridge opened in 1961 until the disaster of 1979.

Duwamish River name of the lower 12 miles (19 km) of Washington states Green River

The Duwamish River is the name of the lower 12 miles (19 km) of Washington state's Green River. Its industrialized estuary is known as the Duwamish Waterway.

Seattle City in Washington, United States

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 730,000 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.87 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the Top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Epoxy family of polymer

Epoxy is either any of the basic components or the cured end products of epoxy resins, as well as a colloquial name for the epoxide functional group. Epoxy resins, also known as polyepoxides, are a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers which contain epoxide groups. Epoxy resins may be reacted (cross-linked) either with themselves through catalytic homopolymerisation, or with a wide range of co-reactants including polyfunctional amines, acids, phenols, alcohols and thiols. These co-reactants are often referred to as hardeners or curatives, and the cross-linking reaction is commonly referred to as curing. Reaction of polyepoxides with themselves or with polyfunctional hardeners forms a thermosetting polymer, often with favorable mechanical properties and high thermal and chemical resistance. Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including metal coatings, use in electronics/electrical components/LEDs, high tension electrical insulators, paint brush manufacturing, fiber-reinforced plastic materials and structural adhesives. Epoxy is sometimes used as a glue.

The eastern approach span weighs more than 3,800 tons (3,400 tonnes) and the western approach span weighs more than 1,000 tons (907 tonnes)

1979 sinking

The Hood Canal Bridge suffered catastrophic failure in 1979 during the February 13 windstorm. During the night, the bridge had withstood sustained winds of up to 85 mph (137 km/h) and gusts estimated at 120 mph (190 km/h), and finally succumbed at about 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13. [6] [7] [8] [9] The western drawspan and the pontoons of the western half had broken loose and sunk, despite the drawspan being opened to relieve lateral pressure.

A catastrophic failure is a sudden and total failure from which recovery is impossible. Catastrophic failures often lead to cascading systems failure. The term is most commonly used for structural failures, but has often been extended to many other disciplines in which total and irrecoverable loss occurs. Such failures are investigated using the methods of forensic engineering, which aims to isolate the cause or causes of failure.

February 13, 1979 windstorm

The February 13, 1979 windstorm is a natural phenomenon that took place on February 13, 1979 in Pacific Canada and the United States. During the early morning of February 13, 1979, an intense wave cyclone moved across southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. South of the low center, a strong atmospheric pressure gradient was carried across Washington, with associated high winds. With a cold airflow moving toward the northeast interacting with the high terrain of the Olympic Mountains, a lee low developed east of the Olympics. The mesoscale low caused a particularly intense pressure gradient to develop across the Kitsap Peninsula region.

At the time of the failure, the bridge had been closed to highway traffic and the tower crew had evacuated; no casualties resulted. Evidence points to blown-open hatches allowing flooding of the pontoons as the cause of the sinking.

West-half reconstruction and 1982 re-opening

The base of the west draw span, after replacement in 1979-82. To open for marine traffic, the section in the center of the photo raises and the section at right retracts under it. Hood Canal Bridge aerial - west draw span base.jpg
The base of the west draw span, after replacement in 1979–82. To open for marine traffic, the section in the center of the photo raises and the section at right retracts under it.

Efforts to repair the bridge began immediately and Washington Secretary of Transportation William A. Bulley secured a commitment of federal emergency relief money for the project. On June 15, 1979, actual work began with the removal of the west truss and transport for storage. The state's department of transportation attempted to mitigate the impact of the disaster by redirecting traffic to US Highway 101 to drive around the 50-mile (80 km) length of Hood Canal and by reestablishing the state ferry run between Lofall and South Point across the canal just south of the bridge. This route had been discontinued after the 1961 bridge opening and the state needed to reacquire access to and restore operational conditions on both landings. During the course of the closure an additional ferry route was temporarily added between Edmonds and Port Townsend.

U.S. Route 101 (US 101) is a United States Numbered Highway that runs along the Pacific Coast from Los Angeles, California to Tumwater, Washington. Within the state of Washington, US 101 connects cities on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and encircles the Olympic Peninsula around the Olympic Mountains and Olympic National Park.

Hood Canal fjord

Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western lobe, and one of the four main basins, of Puget Sound in the state of Washington. It is one of the minor bodies of water that constitute the Salish Sea. Hood Canal is not a canal in the sense of being a man-made waterway—it is a natural waterway.

Washington State Ferries government agency that operates automobile and passenger ferry service in the U.S. state of Washington

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is a government agency that operates automobile and passenger ferry service in the U.S. state of Washington as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It runs ten routes serving 20 terminals located around Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands, designated as part of the state highway system. The agency maintains the largest fleet of ferries in the United States at 23 vessels, carrying 24.2 million passengers in 2016. As of 2016, it was the largest ferry operator in the United States, and the fourth-largest ferry system in the world.

The Hood Canal Bridge re-opened to vehicular traffic in 1982 on Sunday, October 24. [10] [11] The west portion replacement had been designed and constructed in less than three years using $100 million in federal emergency bridge replacement funds at a total cost of $143 million (equivalent to $371 million today). [12] .

The bridge reopened as a toll bridge, but tolls were lifted in 1985 after a court ruled that the insurance settlement constituted repayment of the construction bonds, and since federal funds were used in reconstructing the bridge, the Washington State Department of Transportation could not charge tolls after the bonds were retired.

East-half replacement

In a project that lasted from 2003 to 2009, WSDOT replaced the east-half floating portion of the bridge, the east and west approach spans, the east and west transition spans, and the west-half electrical system. The total cost of the project, about $471 million, is being paid by state, federal and agency funds. The project required the bridge to close to traffic for five weeks to allow the old pontoons of the east-half to be cut away and the new pontoons floated into position, cabled together and connected by cables to large anchors on the sea floor. The transition spans and center draw span were also replaced during this closure. The bridge reopened June 3, 2009. [13] [14]

The pontoons and anchors for the bridge could not be built at the bridge site due to space and facility limitations. WSDOT evaluated different sites at which to build during a site selection process. The Port Angeles graving dock was chosen for its accessibility to water and land as well as the work force. Before purchase, the National Historic Preservation Act required archaeologists to perform a review of the historical site. At that time, "there was no evidence of historic properties or cultural resources" (NEPA Re-evaluation Consultation, FHWA) and WSDOT was able to purchase the site and begin construction.

Within the first two weeks of construction, artifacts were found from an ancestral burial ground from an ancient village called Tse-whit-zen. WSDOT stopped all work on the site, and a government-to-government consultation process began among the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, WSDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the State Historical Preservation Office. On August 14, 2006, WSDOT agreed to donate the site to the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, rebury all remains uncovered, and pay $2.5 million in damages. [15]

It is believed that this discovery may be documentation of the first time that Natives and non-Natives began to interact on this shore[ citation needed ]. These historical findings will be investigated thoroughly by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and archaeologists.

On December 21, 2004, Governor Locke and Secretary MacDonald announced that WSDOT would stop pontoon and anchor construction at the Tse-whit-zen site in Port Angeles and begin searching for a more suitable place to build. Many sites were considered but the best option to be found by WSDOT was in Tacoma, Wash. at Concrete Technology.

Construction began on the new east-half floating pontoons at Concrete Technology in April 2006. Fourteen pontoons will be built in four cycles at the site. Completed pontoons will be floated out of the graving dock in Tacoma and transported to Seattle for outfitting at Todd Shipyards. Outfitting includes adding all electrical and mechanical parts, connecting the pontoons into sections and building the roadway on top of the pontoons. Another three pontoons, built during the west-half bridge replacement in the early 1980s, will be retrofitted in Seattle.


In planning for a prolonged closure of the bridge for the east-half replacement, the Washington State Department of Transportation conducted a five-day survey of bridge use in early June 1998 in order to assess closure impact and plan effective mitigation strategies. The survey was in three stages: A video camera count of traffic on weekdays (Tuesday and Wednesday) and a weekend (Friday through Sunday) to estimate average volume; the use of that video to record license plate numbers for vehicle registration addresses to assess which communities would be most affected; and the mailing of a questionnaire to the registered owners of those vehicles seeking information on trip origin, destination, and purpose, and choice of travel alternatives during a bridge closure.

The video count produced a weekday average of 14,915 trips/day and a weekend average of 18,759 trips/day. Peak volumes reach 20,000 vehicles on summer weekends[ citation needed ]. The vehicle registration information indicated that a majority of trips were by residents of communities near the bridge. The most represented communities were, in numerical order, Port Ludlow (8%), Port Townsend (7%), Port Angeles (6%), Seattle (6%), Sequim (5%), Poulsbo (5%), Bremerton (4%), Port Hadlock (2%), and Silverdale (2%).

The questionnaires revealed that a majority of trips were to and/or from communities near the bridge. On the weekend 48% of westbound trips originated on the north and central Kitsap Peninsula, with 88% of the destinations in areas near Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles. For weekday trips, nearly 55% of westbound trips originated in northern or central Kitsap County with 90% of the destinations in the Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles areas. A large number of eastbound weekday morning trips appeared to be for commuting purposes, with 92% of originating in Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Sequim, or Port Angeles, and 60% with central or northern Kitsap County as a destination, and 32% ending in the Seattle metropolitan area. The evening westbound trips seemed to mirror the morning patterns. When asked the purpose of their trips, respondents reported that for weekend trips 21% were for recreational, 21% for social, 19% for personal, 18% for work, 6% for business, and 4% for medical reasons. For weekday trips 33% were for work, 17% for personal, 14% for business, 11% for medical, 9% for social, and 8% for recreational reasons.



  1. SR 104, East Half [ permanent dead link ], and SR 104, West Half [ permanent dead link ], from National Bridge Inventory
  2. "Spanning Hood Canal". Spokesman-Review. (AP photo). November 1, 1959. p. 20.
  3. 1 2 "Bridge loss hits wide state area". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. February 14, 1979. p. 2.
  4. "Hood Canal Bridge opens on August 12, 1961". HistoryLink.org. 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  5. "William A. Bugge Bridge: Replacement Plan for the East-Half Floating Portion" (PDF). Washington State Department of Transportation. p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  6. Klass, Tim (February 13, 1979). "Span collapses at Hood Canal". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. p. 1.
  7. "Winds collapse Hood Canal bridge". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. February 14, 1979. p. 1.
  8. "Bridge really started galloping'". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. February 3, 1979. p. 3.
  9. "Hood Canal Bridge sinks during a severe storm on Tuesday, February 13, 1979"
  10. Connolly, Patrick (October 25, 1982). "Hood Canal Bridge reopens awash in traffic". Spokane Chronicle. Associated Press. p. 3.
  11. "Ceremony opens Hood Canal Bridge". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. October 25, 1982. p. 3B.
  12. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  13. "Project - SR 104 - Hood Canal Bridge Project". Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  14. "SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge open again - eight days early". Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  15. Associated Press. "Settlement reached in Indian burial site" http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/breaking_news/15274953.htm%5B%5D August 14, 2006 (accessed September 19, 2006)

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