In this episode, we review the I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minnesota that occurred because of a quality control error that ultimately resulted in the collapse of the bridge in 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145 people. We talk about some of the probable causes and how engineers can prevent this from happening in the future. Please note the information in this episode is meant for educational purposes only and none of the information should be utilized for any other purposes.
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About the I-35W Bridge Collapse:
- Shortly after 6 p.m. on August 1, 2007, the Interstate I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis was loaded with rush hour traffic creeping through an ongoing construction project. Without warning, the bridge collapsed, taking with it 111 vehicles. Thirteen people died and 145 were injured.
- The National Transportation Safety Board ultimately determined that the probable cause of the collapse of the I-35W bridge “was the inadequate load capacity, due to an under-design error of the gusset plates at the U10 nodes, which failed under a combination of substantial increases in the weight on the bridge, which resulted from previous bridge modifications, and the traffic and concentrated construction loads on the bridge on the day of the collapse.”
- A replacement bridge was designed and constructed on an accelerated schedule and opened on September 18, 2008, not long after the first anniversary of the collapse.
- The collapse of the I-35W bridge resulted in increased concerns about deficient bridges across the United States. In Minnesota, citizens and government officials alike sought access to MnDOT bridge inspection reports, Federal Highway Administration documents, and other records related to the history, maintenance, and safety of the I-35W bridge — and all other bridges in the state. The Minneapolis Interstate 35W Bridge Collapse guide pulls together many of those reports and links to materials that record the State of Minnesota’s response to the tragic collapse and its efforts to quickly replace that vital link over the Mississippi River.
- Collapses do not only happen in bridges and buildings, but also in stormwater systems.
- Always think about how you check your plans and consider the potential risk if you design something incorrectly. Think of risk as not only the financial risk, but the risk you could impose on the public, agencies, and infrastructure for many years to come. Research past failures so that you can make decisions in the best interest of yourself, your company, the client, and the project.
More Details in This Episode…
In the Power of Experience segment, Brian talks about what you can do to answer the “what ifs” in your designs.
About Brian Wagner, P.E.
Brian Wagner, P.E., is an engineer who specializes in civil site design and plan implementation. In addition to a career spanning nearly two decades of civil engineering, he has experience in Emergency 911 Communications, law enforcement corrections, and fire/rescue services, including K9 Search and Rescue. This different and diverse range of experiences has not only prepared Brian for his career but also positioned him to be an excellent speaker with a wide range of valuable experiences. He strives to motivate others to change their world and wants to do the same for you.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on the I-35W Bridge collapse.
To your success,
Brian Wagner, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Host of The Engineering Quality Control Podcast