Home World Baltimore bridge collapse: Sat images show extent of injury, experts explain why

Baltimore bridge collapse: Sat images show extent of injury, experts explain why

Baltimore bridge collapse: Sat images show extent of injury, experts explain why


At about 1.30 am on Tuesday, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, throughout the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed after a 985-foot-long cargo vessel known as the Dali reportedly misplaced energy and hit the bridge’s pylon or pier. India Today obtained satellite tv for pc images of the bridge earlier than and after the incident from Planet Labs. These illustrate the intensive injury brought about to the bridge.


“The bridge is 2.6km long, built in 1977. The supporting structure — the bridge piers — is made of reinforced concrete. The metallic truss of the superstructure was continuous,” stated Dr Sotirios Argyroudis, Associate Professor of Infrastructure Engineering at Brunel University in London. “The collapse occurred when a ship collided with one of the bridge piers, leading to the failure of the metallic truss. This exemplifies a common mode of failure known as progressive collapse.”

In such circumstances, Argyroudis defined, the elimination of one boundary of the bridge help — on this case, the pier — causes a redistribution of masses that the metallic truss can’t successfully bear, leading to its progressive collapse.

As per open-source data, the collapsed part of the bridge measures 805m. It was a typical steady truss bridge with a few 1,200-foot distance between the 2 important pillars, supported by lots of of struts that maintain the strain evenly. A important pillar’s collapse elevated strain on the struts, which brought about the bridge to rise earlier than collapsing.

This is what’s known as a progressive collapse — the failure of one structural factor results in the failure of neighbouring parts, which may’t help the brand new masses positioned on them.

“The collapse of the bridge’s 804-metre-long three-span section appears to have been caused by the massive container cargo vessel DALI impacting and demolishing one of the two main bridge piers. This took away vital support from the steel truss superstructure with its suspended roadway, such that the whole three-span section suffered from catastrophic structural failure and collapsed into the river below,” stated California-based marine engineer Alan Hayward.

Experts additionally stated that forensic investigations might take 1-2 years as lab testing and collapse eventualities must be analysed to give you believable/affordable simulations of what may need occurred.


Analysing movies and pictures of the crash, experts have been fast to level out that the dolphins (small spherical objects round piers) have been insufficient in deflecting something apart from small vessels.

Referring to the period when the bridge was constructed, structural engineer Ian Firth stated: “Dolphins have been commonplace since the Sunshine Skyway collapse in 1980. However, this bridge was built in the 1970s, so the design would not have incorporated these devices at that time. The fact that a vessel can veer off course and hit the pier is the reason to design vessel impact protection systems so that a large vessel cannot hit the critical bridge support”.

“When the steel truss road bridge was designed and built in the 1970s, there likely wasn’t a requirement to consider disproportionate collapse and structural integrity. It’s conceivable that the piers weren’t designed to withstand the magnitude of today’s ship impacts, as vessels like the Dali weren’t navigating the Port of Baltimore during that era,” stated Toby Mottram, professor of structural engineering on the University of Warwick.

Engineering guide Robert Beinam added, “I do not know what the arrangements were for this bridge, but major bridges over shipping lanes must have substantial protection for piers or columns. These protections are either in the form of structural protection like sacrificial dolphins. They can also be in the form of artificial islands; these are for very large ships and mean the ship will never reach the bridge pier itself. Clearly, the protection of the piers in this instance was inadequate”.


Approximately 42 per cent of bridges within the US, Argyroudis stated, are over 50 years previous, probably posing security dangers in sure cases. Ageing infrastructure is especially susceptible to deterioration brought on by corrosion and different environmental circumstances. Exposure to numerous hazards akin to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and human-induced stressors like collisions and explosions exacerbate their threat of failure. Compounding the problem, present visitors masses typically exceed what these bridges have been initially designed for. “Conducting resilience assessments of our infrastructure is crucial for informing future investments in infrastructure improvement,” he stated.

“Normally, in the case of old bridges, if bridge engineers perform structural assessment they will investigate a scenario of ship impact and what damage it might cause. At this point, the robustness of the bridge is key to avoid progressive collapse as we saw in the videos,” stated Dr Mehdi Kashani, Associate Professor in Structural and Earthquake Engineering on the University of Southampton.

Published By:

Sahil Sinha

Published On:

Mar 28, 2024


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