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Richmond - San Rafael Bridge

John F. McCarthy Memorial Bridge

   
                  


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Richmond - San Rafael Bridge
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Bridge Documented: April 7, 2013
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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
Richmond - San Rafael Bridge
John F. McCarthy Memorial Bridge
I-580 Over San Francisco Bay Richmond and San Rafael: Contra Costa County, California and Marin County, California Metal Cantilever Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 8 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed 1956 By Builder/Contractor: Judson Pacific Murphy-Kiewit and Engineer/Design: Norman C. Raab
Technical Facts
Main Span Length Structure Length Roadway Width Main Spans Approach Spans NBI Number
1087 Feet (331.3 Meters) 21346 Feet (6506 Meters) 72.2 Feet (22 Meters) 6 137 28 0100

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historical Articles About This Bridge

This extremely long bridge is less famous than some of the bridges in the Bay Area, but this is somewhat unfair and does not reflect how impressive this historic bridge truly is. Although it is relatively young with a 1956 construction date, it was still built with all the details that make earlier bridges significant and so much different from modern bridges. These details include the use of rivets as well as a majority of being being built-up in nature, and most of those built-up beams using lattice and battens (as opposed to plate with punched holes like many post 1950 riveted bridges). As such, the bridge looks older than it is, and despite its age, it accurately conveys the construction techniques of the first half of the 20th Century that all quickly died out in the second half of the 20th Century. Overall, the bridge is noteworthy for its length, variety of span types, and double-deck configuration. The bridge starts out as a single deck at each end, with the westbound lanes quickly elevating and moving over to run above the eastbound lanes. Three span types on the bridge are most noteworthy. At the ends of the bridge, deck plate girder spans can be found. After these spans, and in between the two main span segments, deck truss spans are present. Finally, the main spans are cantilever through truss spans, unusual because there are two cantilever truss sections separated by a series of deck truss spans. The cantilever sections define two navigation channels under the bridge. The intermediate deck truss spans between the cantilever spans have an unusual appearance because they do not maintain the high elevation of the channel spans, so the bridge has a sagging appearance at the ends. The overall bridge also has a broad and shallow curve at the western half of the bridge, and unusual photo opportunities can be had as a result of this curving. The main photo on this page is a good example, and more examples are in the photo gallery page.

The construction of the bridge was noteworthy because aluminum falsework was used to help erect the bridge. The aluminum falsework looked a lot like the actual steel truss spans of the bridge, and were composed of built-up beams.

The bridge has had seismic retrofits, but the overall truss retains good historic integrity with rivets and original materials retained on the bridge. The same cannot be said for the more famous Bay Area bridges.

Francis J. Murphy, pictured to the right, worked for the Judson Pacific-Murphy Company and was the Superstructure Project Manager for the San Rafael Bridge.

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Photos and Videos: Richmond - San Rafael Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery Driving Over The Bridge
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of photos taken with a wide angle GoPro camera showing the experiance of driving over the bridge. Photos from both the upper and lower deck are present. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery Driving Over The Bridge
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of photos taken with a wide angle GoPro camera showing the experiance of driving over the bridge. Photos from both the upper and lower deck are present. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Video
CarCam: Westbound Upper Deck Crossing
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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