Reasons That Cause a Bridge Collapse
Bridge collapses are almost always tragic incidents with numerous casualties and substantial financial damage. But each one of these incidents teaches bridge engineers how to improve on their design and create a more stable and safe bridge construction.
Complete bridge collapses are often rare and are usually caused by a human factor. In one example of a bridge collapse in Washington was caused by a gargantuan truck colliding with a key structural element of the bridge. Other times, the collapse can be caused by a natural disaster like earthquakes or fires.
However, in many cases, these are only the spark that ignites the fire of human error in construction. In most cases, the human factor coupled with a technical factor leads to a catastrophic incident.
That is why seasoned forensic construction experts implemented various quality-assurance programs meant to weed out human errors before catastrophic consequences arise throughout the years.
In this article, we are going to list the most common causes of bridge collapses in the modern day.
Natural disasters are usually the most dangerous causes of bridge collapses because of the fact they cannot be predicted in most cases. Floods and earthquakes are often a huge issue for older bridges built without certain modern safety standards and quality assurance regulations. These bridges were not designed with extreme weather in mind.
Earthquakes are the most common cause of the collapse, as they cause structural damage by shaking the bridge. On the other hand, flooding can also wreak havoc on the bridge because the sheer strength of the water coupled with heavy debris like collapsed building parts and trees. Both are known to crumble and crack the bridge.
Demolition and Construction Incidents
A lot of bridges collapse in the middle of construction or demolition. While this is often a lesser evil as there’s no traffic on these bridges, they can still lead to a lot of casualties as the construction workers are put at risk. The collapse could happen if the bridge is encumbered with unplanned weight. This can result in the bridge structure collapsing which could have catastrophic consequences.
Design and Construction Errors
There’s a lot of outside factors that influence the design of a bridge. The geology of the area, the volume of traffic, the weather conditions and available materials all influence how the bridge will be designed and built. While designers take hints from previous bridge designs, no bridge is ever alike. Therefore, there’s always a risk a design or construction error will affect the safety of the bridge.
Finally, neglecting to maintain the bridge and lack of attention of how the outside factors are influencing the bridge is one of the most common causes of bridge collapse in the US. As with any other construction, maintenance is key to the stability and safety of the project.
These issues can happen when despite warning that the bridge might collapse, authorities simply impose weight limitations. As we all know, not everyone is keen on following these limitations, which could lead to a disaster.
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