Why the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapsed

Wind can be one of the most critical and complicated loads on civil structures. The case of the Tacoma Narrows bridge is a well-known cautionary tale that’s discussed in engineering and physics classrooms across the world. Both resonance from vortex shedding and aeroelastic flutter contributed to the failure. When you push the envelope, you have to be vigilant because things that didn’t matter before start to become important (e.g. wind loads on lighter structures). Unanticipated challenges are a cost of innovation and that’s something that we can all keep in mind.