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Bridge Deck Collapses in UK

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Health and safety officials are looking into what caused the steel and concrete deck of a new bridge structure to collapse Monday (May 16) on a construction site along the M60 motorway in England.

The platform, part of a new vertical lifting bridge intended to carry a dual roadway over the Manchester Ship Canal, fell about 60 feet just before 9:30 a.m., the Manchester Evening News reported.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Like an Earthquake

The platform, built between four 102-foot-high pillars, was reportedly in the process of being lowered, according to media program ITV News. Some sources speculated that the cables supporting the structure snapped.

When it fell, witnesses said it felt as if an earthquake had struck the area.

A construction worker on a nearby site told the area newspaper that he felt the “floor shaking” immediately after the platform fell, coming to rest just above the canal. Source estimates of its weight ranged between 100 and 500 tons.

“I was on top of scaffolding and heard a massive rumble. The whole building was shaking and I heard a loud noise,” said Paul McKivitt, 27.

“It was like a train passing overhead,” he added; “it was very loud and went on for quite some time and shook the whole building.”

Emergency services reportedly responded to a 9:34 call to the site by witnesses unsure of whether anyone was on the deck when it fell or could be trapped beneath it.

The area ambulance service confirmed no one was injured and all site contractors were accounted for.

A commuter who passes the site every day noted, “It’s really worrying. There are normally workmen on that bridge so it’s so lucky that nobody has been injured.”

Speculation in the Aftermath

Deep gouges could be seen in the pillars of the lifting bridge, Salford Online reported, adding that a portion of the metal railing around the platform also appeared “bent and buckled.”

Based on what he saw in the aftermath of the structural collapse, Tony Slammon, project manager at a nearby work site, shared his opinions with Manchester Evening News.

“The cables have snapped. Clearly, the suspension cables that hold the bridge up have given way,” he said. “The bridge has been up there for about two months and workmen do work in the raised position.

“And it has given way, for what reason we don’t yet know.”

According to another contractor working nearby, James O’Rourke, 24, “They’ve had everything on there; it must be the weight of the thing which brought it down.”

The platform was being held in place by winching cables when it came loose prior to the fall, Salford Online noted.

Safety cables reportedly “slowed the platform’s descent so it didn’t hit the concrete platform full-on, but rather scraped down the sides of the four concrete pillars and [crashed] into a metal barrier,” the news site wrote.

Investigations Underway, Work Halted

A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain's independent regulator for work-related health, safety and illness, told the media the agency is aware of the incident.

“We have inspectors on site, including a specialist mechanical engineer, and are making preliminary enquiries.”

A statement from site contractor Hochtief further confirmed, “The Health & Safety Executive and emergency services have attended the site. A full investigation will now take place and while this investigation is underway we cannot comment further.”

Work on the site has been suspended indefinitely while the investigation is underway. Marine traffic in the immediate vicinity in the canal has also been restricted.

Project Details

The bridge is said to be part of a £50 million (about $72.3 million) project to reduce traffic on local roads and relieve congestion on the nearby M60 Barton Bridge.

The work is being done by a joint venture between Hochtief and the Buckingham Group Contracting as part of Peel Land and Property’s Port Salford development.

Work on the project began in May 2015 and is slated for completion by the second half of 2016.

When complete, the lifting bridge would be the widest one of its kind in the country, the Manchester Evening News said.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; Bridges; concrete; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Infrastructure; Inspection; Latin America; North America; Roads/Highways; Safety; Steel; Transportation

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