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Bridge Collapse Injures 9 Workers

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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Seven construction workers remained in the hospital Monday (Oct. 12) after a California bridge on which they were working partially collapsed late last week and injured nine crew members.

John Standiford, deputy director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), told the Press-Enterprise that an eighth worker was released Sunday. Standiford also said he could not provide more information about the workers, citing hospital privacy issues as the reason.

Accident Details

According to the daily newspaper, the accident happened late Friday (Oct. 9) night when a team was lowering a section of an onramp bridge into place along state Route 91 in Corona. For reasons still unknown, the wooden support beams collapsed and dropped the bridge about 16 inches.

Broken beams struck several of the workers. Earlier reports indicated that three of the workers had been in critical condition at a local hospital.

The bridge carries Route 91 over East Grand Boulevard, which was shut down over the weekend but reopened early Monday morning.

The executive director of RCTC released a statement about 14 hours after the incident.

“RCTC is dedicated to the safety of the 91 Project and the men and women who are making these infrastructure improvements,” said Anne Mayer. “Our thoughts and prayers are with these workers and their families.

“We greatly appreciate the outpouring of well wishes from the public for our injured crew members. Please keep those positive messages flowing through social media, #91bridgeupdate and #sr91project.”

A woman who lives near the bridge told the Los Angeles Times that she thought an earthquake had hit the area after hearing a loud bang when the onramp section dropped.

“There were sirens all over the place,” said Beatrice Espinoza. “It was horrible … and the ambulances were all lined up.”

Investigation Ongoing

On Saturday, members of the California Division of Occupational and Safety Health (Cal/OSHA) visited the site, as is common practice when employers are injured at a workplace. No further information regarding the investigation was available Monday. However, safety inspections typically can take several months to complete.

Atkinson/Walsh Joint Venture, which is the design-build team hired to complete Route 91 project, is expected to hire a forensic engineer to determine the cause of the collapse, according to the Press-Enterprise.

Scope of the Project

The bridge replacement was part of a larger improvement project for state Route 91. The $1.4 billion highway project began in 2014 as a way to improve congestion on the 50-year-old, heavily traveled commuter route in southern California, according to the project’s website.

From the Riverside County/Orange County line in Corona through the town of Riverside, crews are adding new regular travel lanes; tolled express lanes and connectors; and improving interchanges, bridges, ramps and local streets along the route, according to the website.

Project partners, in addition to RCTC, include the Orange County Transportation Authority; Caltrans; the City of Corona; the federal DOT; and Riverside County.

RCTC / 91 Project

The $1.4 billion California Route 91 project includes replacing 32 bridges, adding regular travel lanes, adding express toll lanes and improving interchanges along the heavily traveled commuter route.

About 280,000 vehicles travel the section under construction daily, the website says. When complete in 2017, the improvements are expected to reduce the roundtrip commuting time by 90 minutes.

Atkinson/Walsh Joint Venture was selected as the design-build team in 2013. The workers who were hurt were affiliated with the joint venture, according to the Press-Enterprise. However, it remained unclear if the injured workers were employed by one of the construction companies or if they were subcontractors.

According to Guy F. Atkinson Construction LLC’s website, the company—based in Golden, CO—was founded in 1926 and specializes in infrastructure projects, including roadways and bridges; mass transit; dams and hydro projects; power; mining; and underground work.

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clark Construction Group, which is based in Bethesda, MD.

Atkinson’s SR 91 Corridor Improvements page on its website lists the company’s contract value at $627 million. It indicates that the scope of the work includes 32 bridges, 100 retaining walls totaling nearly 1 million square feet, 200,000 cubic yards of PCCP paving and 290,000 square feet of sound walls.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; North America; OSHA; Roads/Highways

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