Brooklyn Bridge Turns 125

Brooklyn BridgeBy Kim Smiley

Brooklyn Bridge marks its 125th birthday on May 24, 2008.  When performing a root cause analysis it is easy to spend a large amount of time focused on failures, but today engineers should take a moment to appreciate the accomplishment of this truly amazing feat.  The bridge has been refurbished many times, but the towers, main cables, and main beams are original and are now 125 years old.

At the time the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed the 6,000 ft long bridge was roughly six times as long as the longest bridge of the type that had previously been built.  The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the nation’s oldest and most treasured suspension bridges.  It has shaped the development of New York City.  At the time it was constructed Brooklyn was largely rural and the bridge helped sparked a growth spurt that dramatically changed the face of Brooklyn.  Brooklyn’s population grew by 42 percent between 1880 and 1890.  At last count in 2006, the bridge carried 126,000 cars per day.

Recent inspections have revealed some deterioration of the bridge, primarily with the newer approach ramps.  In a recent survey, state inspections ranked its condition as “poor”.  New York City plans to spend $250 million to 300 million to fix and repaint the bridge.  Hopefully these updates will return the bridge to good condition and it will continue to safely serve the citizen of New York City for many decades to come.