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Bridging the Golden Gate


Bridging the Golden Gate

One-off / one hour
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  • Production Company

    Michael Hoff Productions in association with Off the Fence
  • Produced For

    National Geographic Channel
  • Duration

    50 minutes
  • Definition

  • Location

  • Delivery

  • YOP

Dubbed “the bridge that couldn’t be built”, eighteen years, eleven deaths and an engineering revolution later, it stunned the world. Ever prone to climate extremes, this is the story, not of its making, but of its redesign – to withstand the incredible forces of an earthquake. Join the engineers as they embark on a race against time to save the bridge.

In  Bridging the Golden Gate, you’ll experience the colossal challenges behind building the bridge named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Visionary engineer Joseph Strauss had to fight the Great Depression, invent new technologies and battle some of the most extreme environmental conditions in America. Along the way, he revolutionized construction safety. Opened in 1937, his masterpiece broke every world record. The longest single span – over a mile and a half across. The tallest towers – hovering 70 stories over Pacific Ocean currents strong enough to sink ships. To withstand 100-mile per hour winds, his bridge can sway an incredible 27 feet and fighting erosion from salt-air fog takes a year-round, 55-person maintenance team. Now a team of scientists and engineers must take on nature’s ultimate threat - a 7.0+ earthquake could reduce the bridge to rubble.

San Francisco’s only exit to the North carries 100,000 cars a day and collapse would mean incalculable damage. The challenge - strengthen giant support trusses, replace structural steel pylons and reinforce every onramp, pier and concrete anchor. The strategy is a master retrofit in three phases. The risk is destroying a national landmark while making it ‘Big One’ tough.

Bridging the Golden Gate  brings you the mammoth machines, technology, and engineering breakthroughs behind this amazing steel structure. We’ll compare construction challenges from the birth of the bridge to its rebuild today. Then you’ll experience the retrofits critical third phase. Discover how reinforced steel plates create a ‘stiffening effect,’ why alternate ‘bracing blueprints’ cushion impact and keep suspension coils from caving in and how ‘foundation dampers’ take the bridge’s ‘sway’ to a new level. Share their transformation challenges, solutions and incredible innovations step-by-step, in the race to strengthen The Golden Gate Bridge.