You might take for granted the bridge you cross to go to work. However, bridges are far more than beautiful structures to make your daily commute more convenient. They are crucial transportation links that can carry road and rail traffic across gorges, rivers, or other routes.
When a bridge falls or needs to be repaired, this can cause big traffic problems or isolate people. Some of the most expensive engineering projects in history included the construction of bridges. The general laws that influence bridge construction were established a long time ago. However, each bridge is also affected by a whole series of complicated factors that need to be taken into consideration. Some of these elements include traffic, geology, weather, and even the construction materials used. Sometimes we miscalculate these factors, and other times they come unexpectedly. Either way, the results of not considering them can be tragic and affect the lives of many people.
In this article, we will examine together some reasons why bridges collapse. However, you still need to keep in mind that most bridges collapse as a result of multiple factors. For example, there might be a flood that damages bridge piers without causing a real collapse. A design flaw and poor maintenance might still cause this. For this reason, keep reading, and you will find a recommendation on where to find the best bridge inspection truck on the market.
The main reasons why bridges collapse
One of the main elements influencing the resistance and the life span of a bridge is the weather together with all the environmental forces associated with it. Here are some environmental sources of stress influenced by Mother Nature:
- Winds: one of the main factors that can cause bridges to sway and twist is linked to large gusts of wind. Modern bridges are more aerodynamic and lighter. For this reason, they can allow the wind to pass through them. This ruse prevents winds from moving.
- Earthquakes: bridge sections can shake and crash into each other as a result of seismic forces. This can cause the bridge to crumble. Designers often add dampers to absorb vibrations. Bumpers can also help to keep sections from banging into each other in active earthquake zones.
- Waves, tides, and water back-ups: water is undoubtedly one of the most potent sources of the environment. Engineers often add openings into bridge abutments so to ensure that water can flow through rather than pushing against them.
- Ice and cold: freezing conditions and cold weather are some of the leading causes of contraction on some aspects of a bridge. Thawing can also have the opposite effect. Indeed, the impacts of expansion and contraction have increased due to the current extreme conditions of our climate. Engineers need to consider this aspect to add more responsive and flexible elements to bridges placed in cold areas.
- Hurricanes and storms: the effects they can have on exposed areas of a bridge can be devastating. Construction teams should install protective equipment around vulnerable sections, like for example utility infrastructure.
Besides reasons linked to the environment, we as humans can also be one of the reasons why many bridges collapse. Take, for example, the case of accidents and other unexpected events. We are mainly referring to traffic and construction accidents, boat hitting events, and explosions. All these events can cause bridge stress and even failure. That’s why it is essential to use fire-retardant and durable materials together with isolating elements. These tricks will help to limit the impact that these events have on the balance of forces that affect a bridge.
We have just mentioned several reasons why a bridge can collapse. We have saved the most important one for later: poor bridge maintenance. If you don’t regularly check the current situation of a bridge, you can expect to be able to predict when and if it will eventually fall. You should never save money on bridge inspection because that’s precisely the most critical phase to ensure everyone’s safety. As you can imagine, not all companies working in this industry are equal. If you are looking for a top-tier bridge inspection truck, be sure to rely on the expertise and knowledge of Hangzhou Special Automobile. They own more than 200 vehicles and have received more than 47 patents for their trucks. They will be your best ally to ensure that the bridge you have designed will not collapse that easily.