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Hurricane Barriers: U.S. Engineering Solutions


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What is a Tainter Gate?
Open tainter gate at the hurricane barrier in Providence, Rhode Island

Open Tainter Gate at Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, Providence, Rhode Island

Photo © Jef Nickerson, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0), flickr.com

The Tainter gate was invented in the 19th century by American engineer and Wisconsin native Jeremiah Burnham Tainter. The curved gate is attached to one or more truss-like, triangular framework pieces. The wide end of the triangle framework is attached to the curved gate, and the apex point of the truss rotates to move the gate.

The Tainter gate is also known as a radial gate. The water pressure actually helps move the gate up and down. The end effect is similar to the vertical Watergates in Japan, but the engineering is much different.

See How It Works:
YouTube Animation by Arif Setya Budi
Animated GIF provided by the Dunn County Historical Society, Wisconsin

Tainter Gates in Providence, Rhode Island:

Tainter gates at Fox Point Hurricane Barrier protect the city of Providence from Narragansett Bay / Atlantic Ocean storm tides. Each gate is:

  • 40 feet square
  • 53 tons
  • curved outward toward the Bay to break the impact of the waves
  • lowered by gravity at 1.5 feet per minute (takes approximately 30 minutes to lower)
  • raised in approximately two hours
  • powered mechanically by three horsepower electrical motors; if necessary, the gates can be lowered and raised manually

Learn More:

Source: Fox Point Hurricane Barrier Facts (PDF document from the City of Providence); [accessed November 5, 2012]

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