It’s a humdinger of a problem for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District that the bridge still “sings” during high winds, but the transit agency won’t say about who’s fixing it or how.
The Golden Gate Bridge has been humming — literally humming, that is, crooning a sort of low-pitched whale song that’s audible from miles away — since last June, after the implementation of some structural changes intended to make the bridge safer during bouts of high winds. Those high winds returned this weekend, as did the humming, prompting the Chronicle to to check in with the engineers trying to eliminate the hum sound.
The Chron notes that “Folks as far away as Daly City can hear it.” Meanwhile Fox News, eager for an angle that depicts San Francisco as a Marxist hotbed of cancel culture, describes the story as “San Francisco residents want Golden Gate Bridge to shut up.”
What’s very curious here is that despite the very public nature of this structural anomaly, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District transit organization that runs the bridge doesn’t want to say who’s working on the solution, nor when they expect it to be resolved. Your tax dollars at work!
The Golden Gate Bridge hum is particularly loud tonight. I could hear it in our underground garage, about 3 miles away. https://t.co/7hERHnwfRe— Kyle Mizokami (@KyleMizokami) May 15, 2021
“We’ll have more to say this summer,” district spokesperson Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz told the Chronicle. “It’s a tricky business. We want to be absolutely sure we get it right. We will never sacrifice the structural integrity of the bridge but we want to be responsive to our neighbors.’’
Engineers do at least know the exact cause of the unwelcome humming noise. Last year, the bridge got a retrofit wherein narrower slats were installed to the bridge's western sidewalk railing, which did have the intended effect of making the bridge safer and better able to withstand high winds. But it also has the unintended effect of high winds creating the hum, which was not anticipated, because the retrofit engineers tested their work on a smaller scale model. Now, for what the Chronicle calls the “retrofit of the retrofit,” they’re using full-size bridge parts in a wind tunnel, at some mysterious facility somewhere in the Canadian province of Ontario.
The Chronicle also notes that the previous retrofit last year cost $12 million, with no price tag yet available for the do-over retrofit. This money comes from your bridge toll fees, currently $8.70 for a non-FastTrak driver, and apparently slated to be hiked again later this summer. But right now, it’s the hum that’s really taking a toll on people who live anywhere near the bridge.
Image: Wa17gs via Wikimedia Commons