Financial History 139 (Fall 2021) - Page 19

Library of Congress
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge , 1980 . different contractors who projected an updated and Depression-affected cost of construction of just over $ 23 million . The ground breaking occurred in January 1933 . After the Strum und Drang over the bridge ’ s design , approvals and financing , its construction was almost anti-climactic . The most significant disruption to the schedule occurred early . On the Marin County side of the strait , the pier supporting the tower on which the suspension cables would be hung could be built almost totally on land ; it was completed by June . But on the southern side , the tower had to be built on a pier sitting 1,100 feet from land and in water 65 feet deep . High winds , heavy seas and a strong autumn storm disrupted the work and forced engineers to alter their construction plans . It took workers until January 1935 to complete that pier and get ready to build the San Francisco tower .
Most of the rest of the project proceeded without major disruptions . The anchorages were completed in June 1935 . Building the iconic 750-foot towers ( the largest steel units ever assembled ) occupied most of 1934 and 1935 . By the middle of that year , it was time to begin stringing the suspension cables that would support
the bridge ’ s deck . Spinning two cables — each more than 7,000 feet long — in the harsh weather of the Golden Gate required several innovations in wire design and compression .
Workers began assembling prefabricated sections of the bridge deck in June 1936 . Using a safety net under the deck saved 19 men who accidently fell into it from perishing in a 220-foot plunge to the water . Ten of the 11 men who died during construction were victims of an accident when a section of scaffolding fell through that net . Chief Engineer Strauss insisted on using safety measures not always used on other construction projects , such as safety lines , hardhats , respirators and glare-free goggles , as well as hand and face creams to protect the men ’ s skin . The deck was completed in November 1936 . The first several months of 1937 saw the paving of the roadbed , the completion of the side spans , the addition of an innovative lighting system and the construction of approach roads on both sides of the bridge .
The longest suspension bridge in the world opened for traffic on May 27 , 1937 . Its cost included $ 27.1 million for supplies and salaries ; $ 2.5 million for engineering and geologic studies , inspections and administrative expenses ; and $ 4.1 million for interest expenses . The Bridge District recorded a surplus of $ 1.3 million .
Planning a Multi-Part Connection to the East
The first serious proposal for a bridge from San Francisco to Oakland came in 1914 from Charles Evan Fowler , an engineer from Seattle who had been involved in the design of San Francisco ’ s steel-frame Mills building in 1889 . He suggested the most appropriate option would be a structure combining several different elements :
• three linked 2,400-foot suspension bridges connecting the Telegraph Hill section of the city to Goat Island
• a 540-foot tunnel through Goat Island
• a 2,900-foot cantilever bridge from Goat Island to Oakland
Fowler believed the cost of that project would be about $ 75 million and that it would take 10 years to complete . Political officials were interested , but they were not prepared to act on what seemed to be an impractical idea .
As noted earlier , after the conclusion of the Great War , political leaders showed
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