ASCE Responds to the I-35W Bridge Collapse

In response to the catastrophic I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, ASCE is playing a significant and proactive role in the review and analysis of one of our nation's tragic infrastructure disasters. Shortly after the collapse occurred, ASCE immediately began to provide technical and authoritative information to the media and has developed a dedicated area on the ASCE website to providing further resources and related information. The website will continue to evolve over the coming days and should serve as an excellent resource to keep members up to date and help in answering any general questions that may be received. ASCE members can take pride in knowing that ASCE and the civil engineering profession continue to play such a key role in understanding and responding to natural and man-made disasters and in improving the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I-35W Bridge Collapses During Afternoon Peak Hour

August 1, 2007--You can read about the I-35W bridge collapse at most of the major network websites (See links at right).

Here is an FHWA Press Release dated Aug. 2, 2007:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fsi35.htm

Here is a security camera video of the collapse:
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/08/02/vosli.mn.i35w.bridge.collapse.side.view.cnn

Here are photos of the collapse:
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/popup?id=3439572
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/interactives/minnbridge/index.html?hpid=artslot

Diagramming the collapse:
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/popup?id=3440485

Problems with Minnesota bridge noted twice since 2001:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/02/bridge.structure/index.html#cnnSTCText


Here is the MnDOT 2001 Report:
http://www.lrrb.gen.mn.us/PDF/200110.pdf

A 2001 study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found "several fatigue problems" in the bridge's approach spans and "poor fatigue details" on the main truss. The study suggested that the design of bridge's main truss could cause a collapse if one of two support planes were to become cracked, although it allowed that a collapse might not occur in that event. But, the study concluded, "fatigue cracking of the deck truss is not likely" and "replacement of the bridge ... may be deferred."

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory database said the bridge was "structurally deficient." The Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted Jeanne Aamodt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, as saying the department was aware of the 2005 assessment of the bridge. The bridge received a rating of 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. A bridge receives a rating of 4 when there is "advanced section loss, deterioration."

About 100,000 cars a day travel over the bridge, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. See full story:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/02/bridge.collapse/index.html

42 comments:

mdalton said...

In response to the catastrophic I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, ASCE is playing a significant and proactive role in the review and analysis of one of our nation's tragic infrastructure disasters. Shortly after the collapse occurred, ASCE immediately began to provide technical and authoritative information to the media and has developed a dedicated area on the ASCE website to providing further resources and related information. This website will continue to evolve over the coming days and should serve as an excellent resource to keep members up to date and help in answering any general questions that may be received.

ASCE has also established a dedicated e-mail box at 35-W@asce.org for any specific proposed activities that ASCE could undertake. The box will be monitored closely and suggestions and recommendations will be forwarded to appropriate staff for consideration.

ASCE members can take pride in knowing that ASCE and the civil engineering profession continue to play such a key role in understanding and responding to natural and man-made disasters and in improving the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Maziar said...

It was a real disaster.I mean the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.man-made disasters are made, because we are not aware of a factor which EXISTS in nature.Maybe the cause is heavy traffic,resonance,or joints material failure!My deepest condolences go to the families of the victims.

leto said...

Was there a sufficient discussion of uncertainty in the 2001 University of Minnesota report analyzing the bridge? The general conclusion of the report was that failure was not likely, and a page 11-14 analysis argued that the idealized models used for evaluating bridges are "inherently conservative." Given that the the report identified existing fatigue cracks, should there have been more of a discussion of possible unknown causes of failure? Was it too overconfident?

Initially, I don't immediately see a way in which there could have been a more nuanced discussion of uncertainty in the report. Historical evidence cited in the report seems to give a lot of credibility to assuming that model calculations are conservative. The report indicated existing fatigue cracks but used a lot of empirical testing in their analysis of whether failure was imminent. If there are faults in the analysis or great inadequacies in the discussion of uncertainty, I don't yet see them.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Coates said on CNN that part of the problem with our aging bridge infrastructure was becuase of the increasing weight of trucks, among other things. I am not aware of any increase in legal gross vehicle weight for commercial vehicles in the last 30 years. What was this guy talking about?

Anonymous said...

Why is anybody surprised that bridges and roadways are collapsing around the country? COngress is too busy funding Teapot Museums with earmarks to do their job. America's resources and infrastructure made this country great and I expect Congress to look after them. After all it was a federal interstate bridge.
And why are the politicos now blaming engineers? Engineers are never allowed to make the political decisions about priotizing spending.
By Charles Caliri

Not Anonymous, just no google account

Michael E. McGinley P.E. said...

From the perspective of railway engineering, two aspects may have contributed the collapse:
1. Enforcement of weight limits on trucks (compared to railroads) is very lax. We will never know the actual loading history of any highway bridge. This is the sad but logical outcome of severely underfunded highway departments and arm twisting by special interest groups in some states.
2. Simple spans, though less efficient, are less prone to total failure and replacement of failing components is not as diffucult as it would be with continuous spans. Railroads strongly favor simple spans.

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