For years engineers floated the idea of a bridge across Hood Canal instead of ferries plying back and forth but faced challenges of environment, an arm of an ocean, high winds, currents and tides. In the late 1950s construction began and took three and a half years. The official unveiling was August 12, 1961. The governor, Albert D. Rosellini, cut the ribbon as an estimated crowd of 6000 cheered on.
When the director of WSDOT, William A. Bugge retired in 1977 they officially named the bridge in his honour. Locals never refer to the bridge as this though, it has always been the Hood Canal Bridge.
A devastating wind storm that struck on February 12, 1979 sank the western half of the bridge. After a lengthy study, the WSDOT decided to just replace the lost western section.
The bridge was restored to operating condition and traffic resumed on October 25, 1982. It consisted of two concrete and two Warren truss approach spans, twenty-nine floating concrete pontoons, a concrete elevated roadway over the pontoon decks, two draw spans, and forty-two submerged concrete anchors.
In 2003 the WSDOT began a project that would replace the entire bridge piece by piece, starting with the approaches, to minimize the impact that a full closure would have on traffic. Work was complete by 2009.
For historical purposes the Hood Canal Bridge is what has been mentioned as the paradox of Grandfather's Axe. The grandson inherited his grandfather's axe from his father but he replaced the handle while his father had once replaced the blade. There has been a bridge or at least sections of it at this site since 1961 but anything from that vintage is long lost.
Selections taken from: Spanning Washington, by Craig Holstine and Richard Hobbs. Pgs 179-183
We drove across this bridge a couple times in the late 60s and it was an experience. When there was a long, rolling tidal swell, we could feel the bridge rising and falling with the swell, which was rather creepy to me as a kid. You don't expect your bridges to have "give" in them.