Saturday, October 10, 2009

Extended Commuting Season and Floating Bridges

Fall has been very nice in the Seattle area; for the most part we've had sunny weather, with cooler temperatures (high 50's - low 60's F). Because of this, I am extending my commuting by motorcycle. Commuting by motorcycle = daughter gets the car, so it works out quite well.

The mornings are chilly, so I have switched back to my leather jacket - it's amazing the insulating properties of leather. Unfortunately, I don't have any leather pants, chaps or any other type of insulated pants, so my commute last Monday morning was a bit uncomfortable for my legs. A temporary fix has been to wear a pair of my baggiest jeans over my work slacks, which keeps me pretty warm. I have a pair of Olympia gauntlet gloves which are insulated and are made with a wind-resistant fabric. I've also ordered one of these from

It's called a Buff, and apparently you can figure out at least 12 ways to use this on your body; I have found just one - you can wear this around your neck like a scarf, and even place it over your mouth to keep your face warm, and that's what I got this for.

I've been alternating between the fast commute, which means mostly freeway driving, and the more leisurely commute, with less interstate and more backroads. I prefer the latter, as it is much more interesting and scenic. Because of the length of my commute I have been able to put some serious mileage on my Triumph (I just went over 2000 miles and I have had the bike for about a month and a half). The Bonneville America just gets better and better as I add on the miles, and I am very happy with my choice of motorcycles.

If you live east of Seattle, aka the "Eastside" by the locals, you will eventually cross one of the three floating bridges that cross Lake Washington. And, if you take I-90 to get to Seattle as I do, you have your choice of two of those three; the I-90 Floating Bridge (officially known as the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge) or the "Third" Lake Washington Floating Bridge (the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge).

I don't know who took this picture, but it's a nice one, showing the Homer Hadley on the left, Lacey Murrow on the right, looking towards the east.

Some interesting tidbits about our floating bridges. As I noted, there are three that cross Lake Washington. The one that spans the north part of Lake Washington is called the Evergreen Point or the Governor Albert D. Rosselini Floating Bridge. As you go south, there is the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Floating Bridge, and then the Lacey V. Murrow Floating Bridge. We have another floating bridge in Washington State as well - the Hood Canal Floating Bridge which crosses into the Olympic Peninsula. Depending on the source, these bridges are ranked in the top 5 of the longest floating bridges in the world. The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge has had an interesting history - during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1990 a large storm filled some of the concrete pontoons that float the bridge with massive amounts rain and lake water - yes, concrete can float - the physicists tell me it's all about displacement. On November 24, workers noticed that the bridge was about to sink, and started pumping out some of the pontoons. But too little, too late, and on November 25, 2,790 ft of the bridge sank. The bridge sank when one pontoon filled and dragged the rest down because they were cabled together and there was no way to separate the sections. Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed, since the bridge was closed for renovation and the sinking took some time. This was captured on film - here is some footage:

Once I cross the bridge, I am nearly in Downtown Seattle. I've had to alter my commute on the streets of downtown - more on that later.


Unknown said...


I'm not a fan of the freeway, but I have other alternatives. I find the traffic is too aggressive for me unless I can tuck behind someone going "less fast" . It's the tailgaters I fear and the "sudden" lane changes because someone wants to get ONE car ahead. Right now cooler isn't all that bad, easier to put more on than to take more off

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Mike said...


We haven't been to Seattle in a long while. Pike Place Market is our favorite. I guess I didn't realize how many bridges you have. Thanks for the interesting information.

The Buff looks like it'll come in handy this winter.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Lance:

Can you feel any sense of movement when riding a bike over a floating bridge? I realize the pontoons are massive and that these things must be carefully ballasted.., But I would still think a combination of wind and waves must be felt.

I a ready to attach handguards t keep the wind off my gloved digits, and have a fuse to pop into my heated seat. But it is getting cool enough to consider such measures here.

Fondes regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

cpa3485 said...

The concept of floating bridges is a bit foreign to me. I bet it takes a bit of engineering to accomplish that. There is no body of water big enough around here to require even the thought of it.
But I have a friend, a civil engineer that was involved in the construction of a museum along our downtown river. The river used to probe to flooding until they built a drainage ditch around the west side of town to catch a lot of the water that would have normally flowed to the downtown area. In spite of that they had to do some very technical work for the footings of the museum. Very interesting post, Lance. Thanks!

Lance said...

Bob - you're right, the cooler weather is not bad at all. The right gear (which I am still assembling) makes all the difference.

Mike - thanks for dropping by. The temperature dropped quite a bit this week, so I can't wait until the Buff comes in.

Lance said...

Thanks Jack - I haven't felt any motion, but I am sure it's there; what these bridges do allow for is a lot of spray when the waves hit the bridge on those windy Seattle fall days.

Jim - whenever I read about how stuff is built, I have more respect for the work of the engineers!

irondad said...

This is almost my favorite time of year to ride. Cold and crisp. Of course, you'll enjoy it more when you have gear that keeps you warmer.

Right now there's a definite advantage to the backroad commute. Lower speeds mean lower wind chill!

Heinz N Frenchie said...

Those bridges are amazing and that video was scary. We have lots of water here but don't think we have any floating bridges. We have a lot that open for boat traffic. Beautiful area. Enjoy your rides.

Conchscooter said...

I really think a photo of the author in leather ass-less chaps will get riepe over to Seattle in a hurry.
google pontoon bridges and see how old floating bridge technology is. And keep fighting to not pay taxes so the collective bridge network can sink out of sight completely. Keep those pesky mainlanders out of Key West.

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