2 Dead After Bridge Collapse In France

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2019


On Monday (Nov. 18), a 155-meter-long (510-foot-long) bridge collapsed in southwest France, resulting in two fatalities and five others being injured. Though a criminal investigation has been launched into the incident, a cause has yet to be determined.

One of the concerns raised in the wake of the collapse was whether structure weight limits were being exceeded, according to reports. Attention is also once again being drawn to the several thousand bridges in France that are in need of urgent repair work.

What Happened

On Monday, the suspension bridge, measuring 6.5 meters wide at its widest point, in Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, near Toulouse, collapsed around 8 a.m. At the time, a lorry, a car and a van were crossing the bridge, which has a posted weight restriction of 19-ton vehicles.

According to The Local France, a 15-year-old girl and the lorry driver were among the fatalities. Others were rescued rom the collapse, including the girl’s mother and bystanders who were badly injured. Two rescue workers were also seriously injured, and a number of others were also treated at a local hospital after they also attempted to save those who had fallen into the river.

Head of the Haute-Garonne department Georges Meric noted that more than 60 emergency workers were on site. Those in the area were warned to stay away from the spot and the local Villemur bridge was also closed as a precautionary measure.

The bridge, built in 1931, had undergone a “thorough” inspection in 2017, which at the time yielded no structural issues. (Bridge inspections customarily take place once every six years.) The structure also serves as an important crossing point for people who commute into Toulouse for work. The most recent renovation was carried out in 2003 by the Haute-Garonne council. It remains unclear if the truck exceeded the allowed weight for the bridge.

Eric Oget, Mayor of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn, noted that he had seen very heavy vehicles using the bridge from time to time regardless of the posted weight limit, which is displayed on both ends of the bridge.

"We have always been vigilant in carrying out checks with the municipal police, to stop them when we see it, but there are times when we do not see them,” Oget told the BBC.

Big Picture Bridge Concerns

Concerns over the structural integrity of bridges were brought sharply into focus in August 2018, when the Morandi Bridge, a prestressed concrete structure located in Genoa, Italy, collapsed, killing dozens. Additionally, according to The Local France, in August last year, the French government released a report indicating out of the 12,000 bridges that are maintained by the country, a third are in need of repair.

At the time, the report also indicated that the French government would need to spend 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year for 20 years in order to fix its national road network.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Disasters; EU; Europe; Government; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management

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