Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Big Nick
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Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by Big Nick »

At around 6am today the Forbes Avenue bridge over Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA, USA collapsed. One bus and several other vehicles were driving across at the time. Thankfully only 10 people had mild injuries.
Apparently the bridge had been recently inspected and was classed as 'Poor'. Ironically President Biden was due in town shortly after the collapse to talk about the new Infrastructure Bill that should pay for these failing structures to be rebuilt.

These pics are from the local TV station WPXI: https://www.wpxi.com/news/photos-bridge ... QYXZIKNCU/
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by bothar »

Lots of problems with US infrastructure, steel etc requires maintenance, more than an earlier generation of stone bridge.

https://infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/bridges/

There are more than 617,000 bridges across the United States. Currently, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5% of the nation’s bridges, are considered structurally deficient, meaning they are in “poor” condition. Unfortunately, 178 million trips are taken across these structurally deficient bridges every day. In recent years, though, as the average age of America’s bridges increases to 44 years, the number of structurally deficient bridges has continued to decline; however, the rate of improvements has slowed. A recent estimate for the nation’s backlog of bridge repair needs is $125 billion. We need to increase spending on bridge rehabilitation from $14.4 billion annually to $22.7 billion annually, or by 58%, if we are to improve the condition. At the current rate of investment, it will take until 2071 to make all of the repairs that are currently necessary, and the additional deterioration over the next 50 years will become overwhelming. The nation needs a systematic program for bridge preservation like that embraced by many states, whereby existing deterioration is prioritized and the focus is on preventive maintenance.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by Mark Hewitt »

Many of the YouTube videos I've seen about how the US goes about funding infrastructure in general are quite illuminating. Basically that infrastructure is paid for by increased tax take from new developments, but then maintenance of that development is considered the next lots problem so the next lot have to encourage more tax growth in order to fund the maintenance of the last lot.

This is mostly in regard to the zoning of single family houses where the tax revenue doesn't cover the actual cost of maintaining the built environment.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by KeithW »

Pittsburgh is in the heart of the Rust Belt and has a chronic financial crisis as a result which is being made worse by the Covid pandemic.

https://www.publicsource.org/from-a-bur ... d-worries/
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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KeithW wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:55 Pittsburgh is in the heart of the Rust Belt and has a chronic financial crisis as a result which is being made worse by the Covid pandemic.

https://www.publicsource.org/from-a-bur ... d-worries/
Though that is a part, and the weather in the north east and mid west states certainly does not help, the main part is the federal gas tax has not risen since the Clinton years. This is a large part of federal infrastructure funding leaving repair funds short. This is leading to more and more new infrastructure across the US being tolled, and existing infrastructure beginning to get tolls as well.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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exiled wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 14:27
https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Who%20Pays%20for%20Roads%20vUS.pdfost_id=1224235 wrote:Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:55 Pittsburgh is in the heart of the Rust Belt and has a chronic financial crisis as a result which is being made worse by the Covid pandemic.

https://www.publicsource.org/from-a-bur ... d-worries/
Though that is a part, and the weather in the north east and mid west states certainly does not help, the main part is the federal gas tax has not risen since the Clinton years. This is a large part of federal infrastructure funding leaving repair funds short. This is leading to more and more new infrastructure across the US being tolled, and existing infrastructure beginning to get tolls as well.
The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and Pennsylvania has its own gas tax of almost 58 cents per gallon which is the highest in the nation but the reality is gas and diesel taxes only cover about half of the cost of maintenance, the rest comes from general taxation.
https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/rep ... %20vUS.pdf
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by Mark Hewitt »

KeithW wrote:
exiled wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 14:27
https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Who%20Pays%20for%20Roads%20vUS.pdfost_id=1224235 wrote:Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:55 Pittsburgh is in the heart of the Rust Belt and has a chronic financial crisis as a result which is being made worse by the Covid pandemic.

https://www.publicsource.org/from-a-bur ... d-worries/
Though that is a part, and the weather in the north east and mid west states certainly does not help, the main part is the federal gas tax has not risen since the Clinton years. This is a large part of federal infrastructure funding leaving repair funds short. This is leading to more and more new infrastructure across the US being tolled, and existing infrastructure beginning to get tolls as well.
The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and Pennsylvania has its own gas tax of almost 58 cents per gallon which is the highest in the nation but the reality is gas and diesel taxes only cover about half of the cost of maintenance, the rest comes from general taxation.
https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/rep ... %20vUS.pdf
The USA has always had historically low fuel taxes, and I guess they are paying the price for that. They can't just raise them however as whoever does that will get voted out at the next election.

The USA does seem very local in the way it deals with money. I guess a consequence of it being 50 autonomous regions rather than a monolithic country.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Mark Hewitt wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 08:21 The USA has always had historically low fuel taxes, and I guess they are paying the price for that. They can't just raise them however as whoever does that will get voted out at the next election.

The USA does seem very local in the way it deals with money. I guess a consequence of it being 50 autonomous regions rather than a monolithic country.
Which is of course spelled out in its constitution, until the Civil War every state issued its own paper currency. When it comes to taxation just about every state has local income taxes in addition the federal income tax. As I recall the exception was Alaska which got so much revenue from oil it had a negative state income tax at one time. That has ended but the income tax rate is zero. States also have sales taxes as do regional authorities at the county level, Alaska does have a sales tax but its only about 2% and its has the lowest gasoline tax in the country so fuel is cheap.

So living in Dublin Ohio I had a very complex set of tax forms to submit at the Federal, State and City level. It was so complex that trying too things manually was impractical so you either bought the latest software or went to an accountant.

As I recall when the Freeway I used to get to work (Ohio 315) was rebuilt there was a line item in the local election to approve the expenditure. Not being a US Resident I didnt get to voted on it but it was deducted anyway :)
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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"Fifty republics marching in close formation".
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Chris Bertram wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 16:05 "Fifty republics marching in close formation".
After a long career mainly spent in bridge construction and maintenance I'm not surprised. Promises to spend money on maintenance just don't win votes, except usually very briefly in the aftermath of something like this. I've said it on here before, but I recall a conversation with a department head where I told him he needed to plan to spend significant money on underground drainage systems ( tunnels you could drive a transit van through running just below city streets, not visible to the road users). His answer (paraphrased) "why, I've been here 10 years and we've never had a problem. Besides the politicians wouldn't go for it". You might have guessed said director was not an engineer!
A few years later we almost had a collapse and had to implement an emergency road closure to vehicles whilst trying to to procure a quick solution. A bit like PPE in the pandemic - no time to write a proper spec and ensure best price.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by fras »

UK roads are in a similar precarious state after decades of budget cuts, although so far no bridge collapses. Here in Cheshire East the government grant for roads for 2022/23 has been cut by 20%, and this follows similar cuts in recent years. We're well on the way to having the roads of a 3rd World country.

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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by KeithW »

fras wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 19:22 UK roads are in a similar precarious state after decades of budget cuts, although so far no bridge collapses. Here in Cheshire East the government grant for roads for 2022/23 has been cut by 20%, and this follows similar cuts in recent years. We're well on the way to having the roads of a 3rd World country.

Truly this will be the Chinese century, I think
Having been to third world countries all I can say is you aint seen nothing yet, one hazard in Botwana was elephants on the road, in parts of Egypt (and Northern Australia) you have to be aware of the risk from Crocodiles and then there are the buses with passengers on the roof !

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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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KeithW wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 11:16 in parts of Egypt (and Northern Australia) you have to be aware of the risk from Crocodiles
Not just 3rd world. In Florida once I passed two fully grown alligators within a couple of hours run over on the road. Comment from the next cafe, where we described this to the owner "Yeah, I guess it's that season again. The county have a guy who comes to pick 'em up ...".
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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fras wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 19:22 UK roads are in a similar precarious state after decades of budget cuts, although so far no bridge collapses.
5 years and counting for this pavement collapse, its an NSL stretch of road so you're brave if you try to walk past it along the road.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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WHBM wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 11:59
Not just 3rd world. In Florida once I passed two fully grown alligators within a couple of hours run over on the road. Comment from the next cafe, where we described this to the owner "Yeah, I guess it's that season again. The county have a guy who comes to pick 'em up ...".
Gators are dangerous to dogs but they tend to avoid humans. I saw plenty of them in Louisiana and Florida, salt water and Nile crocodiles are a whole different matter.

The attached photo was taken in Naples Florida from the side of the creek. BTW the Australians would not be happy if you described them as a third world country :)
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Back to bridge collapses.

I notice it's a feature of major older metal bridge collapses to do so in early morning. This one was 6am, before even sunrise. The Reichsbrucke, in the centre of Vienna, which likewise fell down into the Danube in the 1970s, did so at a similar time of day. Any reason ?
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by Ruperts Trooper »

WHBM wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 20:38 Back to bridge collapses.

I notice it's a feature of major older metal bridge collapses to do so in early morning. This one was 6am, before even sunrise. The Reichsbrucke, in the centre of Vienna, which likewise fell down into the Danube in the 1970s, did so at a similar time of day. Any reason ?
Expansion/contraction due to ambient temperature - early mornings is when ambient temperatures are at lowest - at the end of it's life a steel structure is most brittle at lower temperatures.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Given the seriously deteriorating nature of the once great US interstate and state highway system - and under-investment in repairs and maintenance for decades, it’s surprising that there aren’t more bridge collapses.

It does seem like the steel frame bridges that are very popular in the USA are particularly prone to failure, some of these bridges being built only 40 or 50 years ago. Whereas old stone masonry arch bridges built in the 18th and 19th Century are often still holding up well.

I just hope that the new Infrastructure investment plan unveiled by Transport Secretary Pete Buttigeig will actually begin to make a positive impact.

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Scientists believe that the cause of the failure was the damage done to the pins holding the antenna in place for launch from the Space Shuttle as the craft was trucked from California to Florida on a potholed interstate.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

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Enceladus wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 20:52 Given the seriously deteriorating nature of the once great US interstate and state highway system - and under-investment in repairs and maintenance for decades, it’s surprising that there aren’t more bridge collapses.

It does seem like the steel frame bridges that are very popular in the USA are particularly prone to failure, some of these bridges being built only 40 or 50 years ago. Whereas old stone masonry arch bridges built in the 18th and 19th Century are often still holding up well.
Part of the problem with bridges built in the early to md 20th century is that they used grades of structural steel that were prone tp brittle fracture at sub zero temperatures so after a night at -20 when the traffic arrives they are most likely to fail, concrete bridges as we have found in this country can be worse as road salt and water get to the rebar and not only does it rust but can result in spalling as the rust takes up more volume than the steel. Failure of expansion joints can also put bridges at risk. Last but not least in the case of Minneapolis Interstate Collapse there was a combination of factors, undersized reinforcement plates, a bridge that had been resurfaced multiple time raising the static loading and a refurbishment work plan that left heavy construction plant and material on the bridge in closed lanes. Throw in growing traffic and you have a recipe for disaster.

With masonry bridges the major risk is scouring of the foundations.
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Re: Bridge Collapse in Pittsburgh USA

Post by J N Winkler »

The US and most of western Europe (including the UK) have different technological risk profiles because prestressed concrete construction was adopted for bridges much earlier in the latter. The collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 was a huge wake-up call, and considerable progress has since been made on addressing fracture-critical steel bridges. Meanwhile, 1960's prestressed concrete bridges are now old enough for grouting issues to show up, as with the Hammersmith Flyover.

Cause of the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse is now under investigation, and I expect it to be linked in some way to its being an early use of weathering steel, which is now favored in the US as a way to reduce ongoing maintenance.
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