The physics & engineering at the rear of the Ravenel Bridge

It has various names. The Cooper River bridge, the Ravenel, or basically “the bridge.” 

Connecting Downtown & Mt. Enjoyable, it is a amazing backdrop for shots, a favourite for runners, and is just one of the defining landmarks of Charleston.

Crafted to exchange the old parallel bridges that had become out-of-date and unsafe, ground broke on the Ravenel Bridge approximately 20 several years ago with building ending a year forward of plan in 2005. Hundreds of thousands of guests and commuters have handed less than its double diamonds due to the fact then… likely not considering engineering and science concepts at function to keep the bridge stable! 

Let’s initially crack down the numbers. The bridge is 13,200 toes very long with two 575 foot tall towers. 128 cables are anchored to these iconic double diamonds which suspends the bridge practically 180 toes above the h2o.

It is individuals cables where by this bridge structure will get its identify- a cable-stayed bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge, in San Francisco in contrast to the Ravenel Bridge, a cable stayed bridge in Charleston.

At a look, a cable stayed bridge like the Ravenel seems to be identical to a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate, even so, their layouts are pretty distinctive.

Suspension bridges have substantial primary cables that extend concerning two towers with smaller vertical cables connecting the key cable to the bridge deck. Review this to our cable-stayed bridge with cables jogging straight from the tower to the bridge deck. In this design, the towers are the major load-bearing buildings, compared to a suspension bridge in which the weight is dispersed in between large major cable anchors at both equally ends of the bridge and the towers.

In the conclude, it is two distinct means to stability out the exact same forces at operate- pressure & compression. Let’s choose a nearer seem at what these forces are, by wanting at something we all use. Or fairly, what’s inside some pens- a spring.  If you squeeze a spring, it compresses and shortens, when you pull it aside, it creates pressure and the spring lengthens.

In each bridge models, the towers acquire care of the downward compression force induced by the body weight of the bridge & everybody on it, even though the cables, less than tension, harmony the vertical forces at operate to preserve the bridges sturdy and steady. Also a lot compression, bodyweight- and the bridge will buckle, too substantially pressure in the cables and they’ll deform, or even snap. Sensible engineering makes sure this doesn’t occur by spreading and dissipating rigidity among the a lot of cables and transferring unbelievable amounts of drive brought on by the body weight of the roadway to bolstered towers.

With these rules in thoughts, our legendary bridge has been designed to final and stand up to almost everything that could be thrown at it, which includes wind gusts in extra of 300 mph and earthquakes earlier mentioned 7. on the Richter scale. That is one thing to consider on your commute or on your weekly run above this Lowcountry landmark. 

Storm Group 2 Meteorologist David Dickson