Bridge Collapse

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Bridge Collapse

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Fri May 24, 2013 1:46 pm

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — I travel on this highway every week and cross this bridge. yesterday the bridge collapsed, a catastrophic failure, where good fortune alone prevented deaths.

Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."

"I hit the brakes and we went off," Sligh told reporters from a hospital, adding he "saw the water approaching ... you hold on as tight as you can."

That they survived, is a miraculous event, that must largely be contributed to a vehicle that was well designed.

Sligh, his wife and another man in a different vehicle were dumped into the chilly waters of the Skagit River when the span collapsed Thursday evening. They were injured, but miraculously, authorities said it appeared nobody was killed in the bridge failure that raised the question about the safety of aging spans and cut off the main route between Seattle and Canada.

This accident underscores the serious error of under funding the nations infrastructure. The sequester impacts the Nations and the Statea capacity to repair and sustain the nations infrastructure.

"We don't think anyone else went into the water," said Marcus Deyerin, a spokesman for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team. "At this point we're optimistic."

Sligh and his wife were taken to Skagit Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other man was reported in stable condition at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, hospital CEO Greg Reed said.

Authorities are trying to determine what caused the bridge to collapse about 60 miles north of Seattle in Skagit County. This bridge was designed and built in 1955 without redundant structural capacities that would have prevented a collapse. There is no criminal activity associated with the collapse of this bridge.

State Patrol detectives and the patrol's commercial vehicle enforcement bureau troopers spoke to a commercial truck driver whose rig struck the structure.

"We do have the truck driver who remained at the scene. We've had initial conversations with him to get an indication as to what occurred," said State Patrol Chief John Batiste.

Sligh said his shoulder was dislocated in the drop into the water, and he found himself "belly deep in water in the truck." He said he popped his shoulder back in and called out to his wife, who he described as being in shock initially as they waited for rescuers to arrive in boats.

Traffic along the heavily traveled route will be affected for some time. "The I-5 corridor is totally disrupted," said Gov. Jay Inslee, who went to the scene Thursday night. He said "work has already started to design detours." State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson asked people to avoid I-5 in the area for the next several days.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending an investigative team.

Trooper Francis said a portion of the four-lane bridge over the Skagit River collapsed about 7 p.m.

Jeremiah Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, said he was driving nearby when he glimpsed something out of the corner of his eye and turned to look.

"The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water," he said. "It was really surreal."

The bridge was about 50 feet above the water. Deyerin said it appeared that two vehicles - a car and the pickup with the travel trailer attached - fell into the river. He said the water depth was about 15 feet, and the vehicles half-visible in the water likely were resting on portions of the collapsed bridge.

Crowds of people lined the river to watch as the scene unfold. Life or death depended upon the victims and their choices at the threshold of disaster unanticipated deliverance, miraculously People started to crawl out of their cars.

"It's not something you see every day," said Jimmy O'Connor, the owner of two local pizza restaurants who was driving on another bridge parallel to the one that collapsed. "People were starting to crawl out of their cars."

He said he and his - were about 400 yards away on the Burlington Bridge when they heard "just a loud bang."

"Then we looked over and saw the bridge was down in the water," he said.

He pulled over and saw three vehicles in the water, including the camping trailer that landed upside-down, he said.

In this case unlike other bridges in the State of Washington, the bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but a Federal Highway Administration database listed it as being "functionally obsolete" — a category meaning that the design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders and low clearance underneath.

The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.

According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department report, 42 of the county's 108 bridges are 50 years or older. The document says eight of the bridges are more than 70 years old and two are over 80. The Republicans in the Washington State Legislature have advocated lower budgets for the States Highway systems for decades, triggering a back log of repair and maintenance, now beyond the state of Washington's capacity to correct.

Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state's bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington's 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

This has been caused by the no more taxes mentality of the Republican party.

Democratic Rep. Judy Clibborn, who leads the transportation committee in the state House, said the bridge wasn't one that has been a focus for lawmakers.

"It is shocking that I-5 would have something happen like this," she said.

Clibborn said the collapse will call attention to the issues facing bridges — especially the old bridge over the Columbia River that connects Vancouver and Portland, Ore.

Sligh said his wife was "doing OK" and that he had "lots of cuts."

"You're kind of pinching yourself and realize you're lucky to be alive."
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Re: Bridge Collapse

Postby phansford » Mon May 27, 2013 7:19 am

Our nation's Infrastructure is in need of repair and replacement. Newer technologies and design standards have made many bridges obsolete. This doesn't mean they are in structural failure, but they need to be addressed.

While architect's are not typically associated with infrastructure, there is a role for us to play. Both in design and advocating for repair and replacement. Many states are requiring engineers to engage architects to provide design services on bridge and road projects. Prior to opening my own practice, I worked for a large E/A firm where the architects took an active role in designing sound walls, bridges, and landscape design. Since opening my practice, I have been part of several streetscape projects.

Our clients who use crumbling highways and bridges to transport their goods spend more money on vehicle repair and insurance due to the issue. When profits are spent on maintenance and vehicle replacement, businesses can't invest in the growth of their business. In turn, existing buildings are not renovated and new buildings are not constructed. It also increases material costs for our projects and delivery times are lengthened.

We should have seen more infrastructure work being funded in the federal stimulus packages. This is truly a center post of government responsibility and even the far right should be demanding more spending on infrastructure.
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