In 1964, the 9.2-magnitude “Good Friday” Earthquake in Alaska toppled the fourth span of the Million Dollar Bridge into the Copper River. Temporarily repaired in 1973 by a ramp built over the chasm between the third and fourth spans, the bridge, originally constructed in 1911, has been in need of complete restoration and retrofitting for decades. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities retained T.Y. Lin International to develop a retrofit scheme and final design for restoring the Million Dollar Bridge to all its former glory and ensuring its use for future generations of Alaskans. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service.
- Considered by some to be the world’s first major example of arctic engineering.
- Some of the bridge’s members were modeled after original shop drawings.
- The bridge was constructed with the use of pneumatic caissons and falsework that were driven through several feet of ice.
The repair of the bridge included both general rehabilitation measures and seismic retrofits intended to prevent significant damage to the structure in a future earthquake. The work was split into two phases, Phase I (Rehabilitation), which is now completed, included construction of temporary supports in the river; lifting the fallen Span 4; replacing damaged truss members in both Spans 3 and 4; demolition of the damaged Pier 3; construction of a new Pier 3, supported on a new pile foundation; and replacement of a portion of the bridge deck. The bridge was re-opened to traffic after the completion of this phase in 2005. Phase II (Seismic Retrofit), which is designed but not yet constructed, included replacing the damaged bridge bearings with friction pendulum seismic isolation bearings, realigning the bridge, and strengthening Piers 1 and 2.
The Million Dollar Bridge carries the Copper River Highway across the Copper River approximately 150 miles east of Anchorage. The 1,570-foot long bridge is comprised of four Pratt truss spans that measure 400, 300, 450, and 400 feet. The bridge is supported in the river on three immense concrete piers.