Florida bridge that collapsed was touted as 'engineering feat come to life'

Posted by  $  nickursis 8 months ago to Technology
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She noted that "at the beginning of the life" of any engineering structure "the hazards of a failure is really high and then it would start to decrease."

Gee, if people had not been killed, this would almost be funny, If it doesn't fall down, implode, explode, break up, or otherwise immolate itself, the longer it stays, the better the job we did, is not a comforting thought for any construction project. Good data, solid design and materials would lead one to have confidence in their work. Sounds like standards have slipped in the liberal day and age.... Can't wait for the "It's Trumps Fault" to start....
SOURCE URL: https://www.yahoo.com/gma/florida-bridge-collapsed-touted-engineering-feat-come-life-233503040--abc-news-topstories.html


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  • Posted by freedomforall 8 months ago
    But where is the fuselage of the airliner that caused it to collapse?
    (Sorry, 911 pentagon humor.)

    Your federal tax dollars at work. If only the rest of the federal failures were as obvious.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months ago
      It was amazing, the brillian idea was to make it next to the road, then move it across the road. Within a week, it falls down, so my amateur guess is something was not structurally calculated correctly. Just a guess, but (I believe) about 10 million down the drain, unless they can prove it was the builders fault?
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      • Posted by  $  alan 7 months, 3 weeks ago
        The design specs were changed before construction with a movement of seven feet of one of the supports. While it was claimed all the calculations were re-done, I question that.
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        • Posted by  $  7 months, 3 weeks ago
          They also changed the movement plan, which had a support on the very end of the part that collapsed, but moved inwards, due to some road thing or another, and then it was moved, the guy on YouTube says that was a primary cause as it put all the stress on the overhead support stringers, which was why it cracked, they were "adjusting the stringers when it collapsed, that was why the crane was there.
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  • Posted by peterchunt 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    I am an engineer (but not a civil engineer) and this sounds like a complete F***K up by the design engineers. As engineers we design things to not fail, we include safety factors in the design to ensure they don't fail. Someone screwed up.
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  • Posted by chad 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    There of course was some mistake or fault that caused the collapse, too soon to know exactly what caused the failure. There is speculation based on observation and some data but until a thorough examination is done it will be only a guess. When the cause is determined I doubt if any government inspector will stand up and say; "I am the one who missed that." The government demands the right and need for its inspectors to protect the public but they never take credit for their failures to accomplish their tasks. If they are the final approval for any construction why aren't they the first on the firing line for failure?
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    • Posted by term2 7 months, 4 weeks ago
      Government is pretty much at a loss to adequately insure safety. They just want to stick themselves into the process to gain wages and retirement, but anything else that might happen is just icing on the cake
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 months ago
    I've maintained my FL PE license, although I don't live there. It makes me feel for anyone who has her/his stamp on any of the docs associated with the bridge. It can't imagine being involved with a failure high-profile enough to make the news.

    "the hazards of a failure is really high and then it would start to decrease."
    It sounds odd, but this is absolutely true. We calculate mean time before failure (MTBF), but it's deceptive because usually if you plot time and number of failures you get a graph that shows failures are rare when it's brand new, then they spike due to latent issues that shake out before the MTBF, and then farther out you get paradoxically lower probability of failure in any given time period. All this means if the MTBF is three years, you may get more than half of them failing before that time, but some of them lasting ten years.

    It rubs me the wrong way when people not involved with a project, esp before the details are known, say if they had been on the project the failure would not have happened.
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    • Posted by  $  8 months ago
      Sorry CG, but if that is the real way construction shakes out, then you have to have a period of months before any new construction is used, in order to prevent just such a event. It should be built and designed such that it cannot fall down. With the huge burden of government permits, inspections rules and regulations, there either should be almost 0 probability, or dump at least half the regs and rules and inspections as non value added.
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  • Posted by lrshultis 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    https://bridgemastersinc.com/engineer...

    It would appear that for a span of over 300 feet that the center should have had an, at least, temporary support pier in the center until the cable hanging piers were installed. Gravity most likely overcame the 950 tons suspended on just the abatements at the ends.

    While the conception of a project is important for it to be created, the actual engineering and constructors are most important. Governments like to have citizens believe that they are the creators of projects because they fund the projects. E. g., the NASA projects are conceived and funded by government (tax payers) but are created and built by nearly all private firms.
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    • Posted by  $  alan 7 months, 3 weeks ago
      Irshultis: I would parallel my analogy of "analysts" and "programmers" with your "engineers" and "constructors." The thinking and creativity of each is quite different.
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    • Posted by  $  7 months, 4 weeks ago
      There were several things they could have done, but they set it up when they installed it, and then it was pretty much doomed. See the link above, there are 2 videos done b a really good, common sense guy who seems to have it nailed.
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  • Posted by scojohnson 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    My wife is a PE and has worked at Cal Trans basically all of her adult life, with experience in freeway design, bridge construction, hydro structures, water scour inspection, and seismic retrofits.

    Honestly, she totally laughed at the concept - private contractors are the "goal" of cheap government, but unfortunately, they will inevitably cut corners in terms of materials, process, or timeline - all of which impact public safety.

    As an inspector, she has to watch the private contractors and consulting-engineers like a "hawk" - they tend to skip testing procedures, use lower-grade materials, and routinely make comments about federal interstate minimum standards like "no Abrams tanks will be driving on this".

    CalTrans is certainly an expensive and wasteful organization, with something like 15,000 engineers on staff, but they would never hang a bridge over an open in-use roadway, or put it up and open the roadway without all of the support structures in place. For that matter, they wouldn't try the ABC design process.. it's prone to failure. It's cheap, but obviously, this happens.

    Some things really are better left to government... roadway construction, bridges, dams, military, etc.
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    • Posted by  $  7 months, 4 weeks ago
      It may not have been the process, but a lack of knowledge and common sense, they moved one support at install they needed on the end that collapsed, not according to plan, then they went to adjust the tensioner and boom, there was no stopping it. See the video and it all is crystal clear.
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  • Posted by  $  allosaur 8 months ago
    That "instant bridge" crashed down in an instant, killing people just as fast..
    Bet the lowest bid to build was snapped up in an instant.
    The salivation of tort attorneys must have been instantaneous too. Me dino can imagine all those suits with briefcases flapping bat wings as they circle the sky above that crashed bridge like vultures, all screeching calls that sounds something like, "Pick meee! Pick meee!"
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    • Posted by  $  alan 7 months, 3 weeks ago
      To augment Allosaur's mention of lowest bidder (above) and peterchunt's mention of design engineers (below):

      First a little history. About 1980, businesses nationwide began cutting payroll costs by combining certain roles in business organizations (I call this a "movement"); Several years later it was recognized as the cause underlying unforeseen/undesirable consequences. Specifically developers and adopters of the theory (movement) did not take into consideration the need for separate micro or macro thinking each of the roles required -- because typically each of these thinking roles mutually exclude the other. Very few people could operate in both realms because their "brains were not wired that way." As part of a small vocal minority which published a few books and articles why this would not work in the long run, immediate profits won out. We "die hards" are still around, doing other things for enjoyment in pseudo-retirement.

      As a computer systems and software consultant in the last century, the lowest bidder typically caused numerous head aches for us because we needed to supervise the vendors (but we could not because the vendor contracts specifically excluded us). Our clients assumed the vendors had quality supervision, but later discovered they did not, because most vendors lacked the analytical ability to design an appropriate human software interface in a new and growing industry.

      I moved my firm in a different direction. The firm became very profitable because we had both analysts and programmers; we had to charge the highest billable rates in NYC at the time to cover anticipated but undefined issues which typically arose in highly innovative and technical engagements. This policy eliminated potential customers who could not afford quality. We eventually specialized rescuing clients from competitors who failed to deliver on their contracts. There is an old adage: "Pay for it now, or pay for it later."

      The bottom line is "one usually receives that for which he pays."

      In retrospect, it was the right move, as I retired in six years and became a SCUBA diving instructor and then an airplane pilot, flying volunteer missions which provide needy people with transportation to/from medical treatment not readily available in their locale -- the latter I continue to do right to this day. Alas, I do not have the stamina to teach others SCUBA diving.
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      • Posted by  $  7 months, 3 weeks ago
        Exactly, the military should have done the same, they paid the highest rates, got the lowest quality, then paid again to fix it, and endless circle, IBM made a mint off the submarine sonar world and it was still a crappy system, interface wise.
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        • Posted by  $  alan 7 months, 3 weeks ago
          IBM rings a bell:
          When I moved to NY from the midwest to marry my sweetheart, I interviewed with several divisions of IBM, Each told me I would be working very late when it came time to prepare the monthly closing reports. I asked why, and the answer was akin to, "We had to prepare spreadsheets and tabulate the numbers."

          "Why don't you use computers to do that?" And the repetitive answer was, "We do it by hand." They never offered me a position as I did not seem interested, which was true. And they were not interested in my self-taught background in computers because they were filling an accounting position.
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  • Posted by  $  Thoritsu 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    This is either a (major stupid) design flaw, or more likely a manufacturing flaw. The grout used to secure the steel members in tension may not have set or been applied properly.
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    • Posted by  $  7 months, 4 weeks ago
      Nope, it was the install, a change in plan that was not approved or designed for, and trying to make up for it, by changing the tension of the tensioner on the end, which was when it fell down.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    As I said before, that fact that it had to be tested meant that it was uncertain, and it should not have been "tested" with a slew of people driving/ riding underneath it on the road. Could it not have been tested somewhere else? Or could not people have been warned away?
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    • Posted by  $  alan 7 months, 3 weeks ago
      LibertyBelle:
      In Orlando, the massive Interstate 4 construction project conducts its road closures during the night hours as much of the disruptive work takes place at that time.

      While difficult for drivers at night with the frequent detours or lane closures, the workers perform their duties in simulated daylight.
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    • Posted by  $  7 months, 4 weeks ago
      When they were doing what they were doing, the road should have been closed, just in case, but they did not, and that was what happened. Not smart, especially when they knew something was wrong.
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  • Posted by term2 7 months, 4 weeks ago
    I would have thought they tested models of the bridge for loads BEFORE building it. But then again, government inspectors are interested only in governmental power and anything else is simply icing on the cake.
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  • Posted by  $  8 months ago
    Jbrenner has a thread going as well and I found this on it:

    https://heavy.com/news/2018/03/figg-b...

    Interesting, but it still seems they knew there were issues before it happened, called them in as "cosmetic", then it fell down, so either design or building method, or materials seems the most probable causes. Maybe the video of it moved into place will tell, but they had 900 tons of bridge on 2 movers, so if one or the other got the least bit out of sequence in the move, it would have been an awful lot of lateral stress, and concrete is not that flexible.
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