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Author Topic: Cleddau Bridge disaster: 50th anniversary of fatal collapse  (Read 299 times)
SandTEngineer
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« on: June 02, 2020, 01:26:52 pm »

From the BBC:

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It was meant to be a 2m symbol of a booming economy - but it would prove to have a fatally flawed design that would cause devastation.



On a hot 2 June, 1970, a 150-tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge crashed onto the village below.

Amid the rubble, four workers had been killed and five injured in a disaster that was to change bridge building.

Now there are calls for a stolen memorial plaque to be replaced as part of the 50th anniversary.

PC Phil Lloyd had just begun his shift at Pembroke Dock police station in Pembrokeshire when the fire siren sounded at 14:16 BST. "I presumed it was just another chimney fire as usual," he said. "But when I went into the switchboard the operator told me my mother-in-law was on the phone. She shouted, 'The bridge has come down!'. "I told her to stop being so dull but she said there was hell to pay down there."  His mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river, directly under the bridge which had begun being built across the estuary the previous year.

The 70m section was being cantilevered out to the next pillar when it collapsed.

With the development of local oil refineries, industries and the nearby Milford Haven port, a bridge was needed to cut out a 20-mile round-trip for vehicles.

PC Lloyd and his sergeant were the first to arrive at the village, where they were met with a scene of "utter pandemonium". "The whole section of the bridge had come down and was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden," said Mr Lloyd. "Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister's house which is where the bridge came down. "It had completely demolished my auntie's coal shed and outside toilet but thankfully she had gone to town to have her hair done. "People were just walking around in a daze while lots more started arriving - it was mayhem. "One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath."

The memories of 2 June 1970 remain vivid for Phil Lloyd.  PC Lloyd would spend the next two weeks keeping the site secure as shocked onlookers flocked to view the aftermath.

It was later discovered the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as a 230-foot (70m) box-section was cantilevered out.

Construction was immediately halted, though within 18 months, other box-section bridges collapsed in Australia and Germany with deadly consequences.

An inquiry made a number of safety recommendations, including 500ft (152m) of extra steel to strengthen the Cleddau Bridge, but confidence among the villagers had been crushed.

A report found that poor site organisation also contributed to the collapse "Emotions were high and the residents were furious," said Mr Lloyd.

"They formed an action group, chaired by my father-in-law, and they wanted the bridge moved but you can't suddenly change the direction of a construction that big. "My mother-in-law was very shaken up and for some time afterwards she wanted to move house. But eventually things settled down and she lived there until she died."

A memorial plaque to William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips was unveiled on the 25th anniversary of the disaster. However the steel plaque was reported stolen in August 2017 and has never been recovered.

"I'm disgusted that it was taken and that it has never been replaced. It's a very simple thing that should be done for the 50th anniversary," said Mr Lloyd.

Pembroke Dock town council said it was in the process of commissioning a new plaque, having been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

When the Cleddau Bridge eventually opened in 1975 it was the largest unsupported span in Europe, though the escalating costs of 12m were even discussed in the House of Commons.

Rules implemented in the wake of the disaster laid the foundations for a new standard in box girder bridge design and the Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

Now 74, the memory of that day remains vivid for Mr Lloyd. His son Steve now lives in his mother-in-law's house, while he built a new property next door - in the shadow of the bridge.

Problems have persisted with objects either thrown or falling off the bridge, including a sandbag that crashed through a roof, and a splattering of colour when the bridge is painted.

But each year, on 2 June, Mr Lloyd offers a moment's thought to those who died.

He said: "I always look up at the bridge and think, 'There it is in all its glory - though there wasn't much glory 50 years ago'."
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onthecushions
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2020, 10:30:28 pm »


Only two years later the Loddon A329(M) bridge collapsed under construction. It led to the Bragg Report and BS5975.

http://www.ashridgeinterchange.org.uk/history_WT_1971_5_Winnersh.htm

OTC
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ellendune
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2020, 11:10:47 pm »

This paper from ICE brings all these strands together

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Electric train
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 07:42:11 am »

Not the same cause as these bridge collapses but I can remember there being problems with school buildings in the mid 70's I was at school at the time, in one case in Scotland collapsing

All the schools constructed with the High Alumina Cement (HAC) had to be closed and steel beams fitted, the 1960's and 70's seem to have be fraught with some civil engineering use of technology to speed up and make construction more affordable (cheaper) which fortunately the lessons were learnt
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Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.     
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2020, 06:29:50 pm »

Not the same cause as these bridge collapses but I can remember there being problems with school buildings in the mid 70's I was at school at the time, in one case in Scotland collapsing

All the schools constructed with the High Alumina Cement (HAC) had to be closed and steel beams fitted, the 1960's and 70's seem to have be fraught with some civil engineering use of technology to speed up and make construction more affordable (cheaper) which fortunately the lessons were learnt

... or maybe not, since there's been another recent outbreak of collapsing schools in Scotland.
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stuving
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2020, 07:50:34 pm »

There are fashions (sometimes it's called "progress") even in bridges that fall down while being built. You may remember the footbridge at FIU Miami that fell onto the road below in March 2018, with several fatalities. The NTSB report was issued last September, though I only found it a little while ago. More depressing reading, I fear - at least for  the (unnamed) Engineer of Record at FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc.

This is the "Probable Cause" from the summary:
Quote
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that the probable cause of the Florida International University (FIU) pedestrian bridge collapse was the load and capacity calculation errors made by FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., (FIGG) in its design of the main span truss member 11/12 nodal region and connection to the bridge deck. Contributing to the collapse was the inadequate peer review performed by Louis Berger, which failed to detect the calculation errors in the bridge design. Further contributing to the collapse was the failure of the FIGG engineer of record to identify the significance of the structural cracking observed in this node before the collapse and to obtain an independent peer review of the remedial plan to address the cracking. Contributing to the severity of the collapse outcome was the failure of MCM; FIGG; Bolton, Perez and Associates Consulting Engineers; FIU; and the Florida Department of Transportation to cease bridge work when the structure cracking reached unacceptable levels and to take appropriate action to close SW 8th Street as necessary to protect public safety.

To appreciate the truly humiliating nature of this failure, you have to know that FIU (the customer) contains one of the top civil engineering departments in the USA, specialising in bridges. For some years now they have been working on, and promoting, "accelerated bridge construction" (ABC). This involves building the whole bridge, or at least a whole span, to one side and putting it in place using giant Tonka fork-lifts (called SPMTs). Network Rail (and SNCF Infra) are keen on versions of this, for example Cow Lane or Gypsy Patch Lane, as it minimises closure times for roads or railways.

Not only that, but there is a national centre of excellence for ABC hosted by FIU as well. As it happens, it wasn't ABC that broke it, though it looked awfully like it did (and the reputational damage is unfixable). The winning design (by the MCM+FIGG team) was published in great detail (65 MB - though not quite as built), and in the introduction to that there was a whole heap of hubris including: "Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) to build the entire span over the highway in a single night - this will showcase FIU's prominence in the international ABC marketplace".
« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 10:40:20 pm by stuving » Logged
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