America’s Deadliest Bridge Failure – The Silver Bridge

Course Number: ED-2003
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: James S. Bluma, P.E.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In America’s Deadliest Bridge Failure – The Silver Bridge , you'll learn ...

  • The history of the Silver Bridge’s conception, design and construction
  • Design deficiencies and materials that doomed the Silver Bridge from its beginning
  • The little-known fracture propagation mechanism that caused the progressive degradation of critical load bearing structural members on the bridge
  • Changes made to the original bridge design to reduce its cost which caused the collapse

Overview

PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 19 pages

The Point Pleasant Bridge was unique in many respects and incorporated the use of many design and construction techniques never before applied in the United States. Among these unique applications was the use of aluminum paint to protect the bridge which gave it the silver color for which it became commonly referred to as the Silver Bridge. The bridge was a 1,460 foot suspension type with a 700 foot main span and two 380 foot side spans which crossed the Ohio River between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio. The bridge opened on May 30, 1928 and was considered the Gateway to the South for its importance in commerce due to the strategic location connecting highway 35 across the Ohio River.

At 4:58 PM on December 15, 1967 while crowded with rush hour traffic, the entire suspended portion of the bridge along with its two 130 foot towers collapsed and fell into the Ohio River along with 31 cars and trucks that were on the bridge at the time. In all, 64 people fell with the bridge. Of these, 46 were killed and 9 were seriously injured making this incident the deadliest roadway bridge failure in United States history.

The design of the bridge provided no redundancy for certain critical load bearing members and when just one of these failed, the entire 1,460 foot suspended bridge deck and roadway with vehicles fell the 100 feet to the river below in under 4 seconds. Designed to last 100 years, the bridge fell after only 39. At the time of the collapse the bridge was carrying only 41% of its design live load. What followed would become the largest and most consequential structural failure investigation in history.

 

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • The unique construction approach proposed for the Silver Bridge
  • How the application of newly developed high strength steels and heat-treating procedures gave the builder’s engineers excessive confidence in their safety factors
  • How the sequence of collapse as described by eye witnesses helped lead investigators to the cause of the disaster
  • Other bridges built at the same time and of the same general design as the Silver Bridge that are still in use today and what made them superior and enduring
  • Recent deadly structural failures worldwide involving different materials and environments but caused by the same phenomenon that caused the Silver Bridge collapse
  • Measures taken to improve highway bridge safety in the United States as a result of the Silver Bridge disaster

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 15 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 19 pages

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