Friday, August 10, 2007

Learning lessons

The Captain points out a Cleveland Plain Dealer report this morning that the 35W bridge collapse was similar to a bridge failure in Ohio 11 years ago.
Eleven years earlier, the eastbound I-90 bridge over the Grand River in Lake County failed. The reason: the same steel plates, called gussets. They had corroded, then buckled after crews blasted them during painting preparations. ...

The spans are Warren truss bridges, made of diagonal compression members joined by gussets. Both bridges are nonredundant, meaning that if one part fractures, the whole structure can fall down. At the time of the failures, both bridges had work crews and equipment weighing them down.
With awareness of this previous failure, the Minnesota DOT should have factored this "Operating Experience" into their planning for repair of the 35W span. I suspect that the information was not readily available or shared between various state structural design organizations. However, if this Ohio information was available to the Minnesota engineers and ignored, it would be criminally negligent.

Operating Experience or OE is a nuclear industry term for bad sh!+ that happens at nuclear plants that should be considered by operators of other nuclear units. OE has been shared for decades through the regulator as well as voluntarily through industry group such as INPO.

The structural engineers at various DOT's should learn some lessons about lesson learning from the nuclear industry.

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