Engineer reacts to Baltimore bridge collapse

CTV News
26 Mar 202406:46

Summary

TLDRIn a detailed discussion, structural engineer Ken Davis analyzes the collapse of a nearly 3-kilometer-long bridge after a cargo ship collision. He explains that the bridge was up to code, suggesting the accident was due to a ship malfunction rather than structural issues with the bridge. Davis highlights the challenges of rebuilding such a significant commuter route, estimating a two-year reconstruction timeline.

Takeaways

  • 🌉 The bridge collapse was a shocking event, with the structure being nearly 3 kilometers long.
  • 🏗️ The bridge was up to code and had no structural issues prior to the accident.
  • 🚢 The cargo ship was errant and went off track, striking the bridge pier which provides critical support.
  • 🔍 The cause of the bridge collapse is still under investigation with agencies like the NTSB and FBI involved.
  • 🤔 Structural engineer Ken Davis suspects a failure on the ship rather than the bridge itself.
  • 🚢 The ship's systems, including main engines and thrusters, may have failed, causing it to veer off course.
  • 🚨 There was a Mayday or warning call made prior to the collision, indicating the ship was in distress.
  • 💡 The bridge was built in 1977 when container ships were much smaller than today's vessels.
  • 🔧 Modern engineering practices include designing structures with redundancy to withstand unexpected impacts.
  • 🛠️ Rebuilding a bridge of this size could take more than two years, considering the complexity and importance.
  • 🚧 The bridge was a major commuter route with 35,000 vehicles using it daily, highlighting the impact of its closure.

Q & A

  • What is Ken Davis' profession and the name of his company?

    -Ken Davis is a structural engineer and the owner of KH Davis Engineering, consultants in Toronto.

  • What was the reported cause of the bridge collapse according to officials?

    -The officials reported that the bridge was up to code and there were no structural issues with it before the incident.

  • How long is the bridge that collapsed?

    -The bridge that collapsed is nearly 3 kilometers long.

  • What does Ken Davis speculate caused the bridge to collapse like a pile of dominoes?

    -Ken Davis speculates that the bridge collapsed because the cargo ship went off track and hit one of the bridge piers, which provide support for the entire structure.

  • What type of bridge is described in the transcript, and how does its structure contribute to the collapse?

    -The bridge is described as a through truss bridge, which is a large, continuous structure. Its design means it relies on support from individual supports as well as adjacent spans, so if a part of it collapses, the rest of it can come down as well.

  • What is Ken Davis' speculation about the ship's systems?

    -Ken Davis speculates that there was a failure of some of the systems on the ship, possibly the main engines or thrusters, which caused the ship to veer off course and collide with the bridge pier.

  • What was the possible reason for the ship's lights flickering before the collision?

    -While the exact reason is not clear, it's possible that someone on the ship was flashing lights to try to warn people, or it could have been a sign of a distress call indicating that there was a problem on board.

  • How has the size of container ships changed since the bridge was built in 1977?

    -According to Ken Davis, container ships have more than doubled in size since the 1970s when the bridge was built.

  • What considerations might engineers take into account when designing structures like bridges?

    -Engineers design structures with redundancy and the ability to withstand certain impacts. For example, they might design bridge supports to carry a certain amount of impact, considering the potential size of ships today.

  • How long does Ken Davis estimate it would take to rebuild a bridge of the size that collapsed?

    -Ken Davis estimates that it would likely take more than a year, possibly around two years, to rebuild a bridge of that size.

  • What is the significance of the bridge that collapsed in terms of traffic?

    -The bridge is a major commuter bridge with 35,000 vehicles crossing it every day to reach the port.

Outlines

00:00

🌉 Structural Analysis of Bridge Collapse

The first paragraph discusses the aftermath of a cargo ship colliding with a bridge, resulting in the bridge's collapse. Ken Davis, a structural engineer, shares his insights on the structural integrity of the bridge, which was reportedly up to code and had no structural issues. He explains the possible reasons for the collapse, such as the impact on a critical support pier and the bridge's continuous structure, which can lead to a domino effect if one part fails. Davis also speculates on the ship's potential mechanical failure and the possible reasons for the ship's lights flickering before the collision. He emphasizes the need for a thorough investigation to understand the exact cause of the accident.

05:02

🏗️ Bridge Design and Reconstruction

The second paragraph focuses on the challenges of bridge design and reconstruction in the wake of the collapse. Ken Davis discusses the considerations engineers must take into account when designing structures like bridges, including the anticipation of potential impacts and the incorporation of redundancy to prevent total collapse. He also addresses the evolution of ship sizes since the bridge's construction in 1977 and how modern, larger vessels may pose greater risks to infrastructure built to older standards. Davis estimates that the rebuilding of the nearly 3-kilometer long bridge could take up to two years, highlighting the scale of the project and the impact on the community that relies on the bridge for commuting and trade.

Mindmap

Keywords

💡structural engineer

A structural engineer is a professional who designs and analyzes structures to ensure they are safe and can withstand various forces, such as wind and earthquakes. In the video, Ken Davis, a structural engineer, provides his expertise to analyze the bridge collapse incident. His role is crucial in understanding the possible structural issues that could have led to the collapse.

💡cargo ship

A cargo ship is a large vessel designed to transport goods across waterways. In the context of the video, a cargo ship is mentioned as having struck a bridge, causing its collapse. This event is the central focus of the discussion, as the experts try to determine the reasons behind such a large structure failing.

💡bridge pier

A bridge pier is a vertical support structure that transfers the load from the bridge to the ground. In the video, the pier of the bridge is mentioned as being hit by the cargo ship, which likely led to the collapse of the entire structure. Understanding the role of bridge piers is essential to grasp the impact of the collision on the bridge's integrity.

💡concrete beam

A concrete beam is a long, structural element made of concrete, reinforced with steel bars to support loads. In the video, the failure of a heavy concrete beam is discussed as a possible cause for the bridge's collapse. This highlights the importance of such structural elements in maintaining the stability of large infrastructure projects like bridges.

💡through truss bridge

A through truss bridge is a type of bridge design where the truss is both the supporting structure and the roadway itself. The video explains that the bridge in question was a through truss bridge, which means that its design and the way it was supported are crucial factors in understanding why the entire bridge may have collapsed after the impact.

💡continuous structure

A continuous structure is a type of construction where the load is distributed across multiple supports, making the entire structure interdependent. The video discusses the bridge as a continuous structure, which implies that damage to one part could lead to the collapse of the entire bridge due to the interconnected nature of its supports.

💡NTSB

The NTSB, or National Transportation Safety Board, is a U.S. government agency that investigates transportation accidents to prevent future occurrences. In the video, the NTSB is mentioned as one of the organizations that will be investigating the cause of the bridge collapse, highlighting the significance of the incident and the need for a thorough examination.

💡ship lights

Ship lights are the navigational lights and other illumination systems on a vessel that serve various purposes, including signaling and indicating the ship's position and status. In the video, there's a mention of the ship's lights flickering before the collision, which could suggest a technical issue or a distress signal, adding to the mystery of what caused the accident.

💡Mayday call

A Mayday call is a distress signal used to indicate a life-threatening situation. In the context of the video, a Mayday or warning call was mentioned, suggesting that the crew of the ship may have been aware of a critical issue before the collision occurred. This detail is important in understanding the possible causes of the accident.

💡bridge code

Bridge code refers to the set of standards and regulations that guide the design and construction of bridges to ensure their safety and durability. The video discusses the bridge being built in 1977 and questions whether it was constructed to a different code than what is used today, which is relevant to understanding the bridge's ability to withstand the impact from the cargo ship.

💡rebuild

Rebuilding refers to the process of reconstructing or repairing a structure after it has been damaged or destroyed. In the video, the discussion about the potential rebuilding of the bridge highlights the complexity and time required to restore such a critical piece of infrastructure, especially one as large and important as the bridge in question.

Highlights

Ken Davis, a structural engineer, provides expert analysis on the bridge collapse.

The cargo ship collision with the bridge occurred early morning.

Officials confirm the bridge was up to code with no structural issues.

The bridge, nearly 3 kilometers long, collapsed dramatically.

A YouTube video shows a time lapse of the bridge collapse.

The ship went off track, colliding with a critical bridge pier.

The failed support consisted of a heavy concrete beam on four legs.

The bridge's continuous structure design contributed to the extensive collapse.

The investigation involves multiple agencies, including the NTSB and the FBI.

Ken speculates the ship's systems may have failed, leading to the accident.

Ship lights were reported to be flickering moments before the collision.

The bridge was built in 1977, a time when container ships were smaller.

Current bridge design codes are different than those from 1977.

Engineers design structures with redundancy to withstand impacts.

The bridge重建 is expected to be a long-term project, possibly over two years.

The bridge is a major commuter route for 35,000 vehicles daily.

Ken Davis emphasizes that the collapse was likely due to a faulty ship, not a faulty bridge.

The distress call indicates the ship operators were aware of a problem.

Transcripts

00:00

Ken Davis he is a structural engineer

00:02

and owner of KH Davis engineering

00:04

consultants in Toronto Ken uh as Tony

00:08

Grace was just reporting this cargo ship

00:12

struck the bridge early this morning but

00:15

we heard from officials there that this

00:17

bridge was up to code that there were no

00:20

structural issues with it so how does a

00:23

bridge nearly 3 kilometers long come

00:26

down then like a pile of dominoes mhm

00:30

well it's shocking to see the images of

00:31

what happened I was able to excuse me

00:34

see a YouTube video that showed sort of

00:35

a time lapse of the collapse and of

00:39

course it appears that the ship uh was

00:41

errant it uh went off track and I'm

00:44

guessing that it just plowed right into

00:45

the bridge Pier which of course provides

00:48

support for the entire structure um if

00:50

you look carefully at pictures of the

00:52

bridge before the accident you can see

00:54

that the support that failed consisted

00:58

of uh a very heavy conrete beam uh

01:01

supported on what initially might look

01:03

like two pillars but in actual fact

01:05

there's four and I'm thinking that if

01:09

there was an impact on one of those four

01:11

legs that would have created an

01:13

instability and caused that entire um

01:16

span to collapse um and the other reason

01:20

that it might have brought the whole

01:21

Bridge down is that this isn't just

01:23

a simple bridge that supported that

01:26

points um it's it's what's called a

01:28

through Trust Bridge it's a very large

01:31

one and the um the bridge itself relies

01:36

on support from not just the just just

01:39

individual supports but even from

01:41

adjacent spans so it's it's continuous

01:43

structure so if a part of it collapses

01:45

the rest of it can come down as well and

01:48

I'm I'm just going to ask crew if we can

01:50

upstairs perhaps put up those live

01:52

pictures if we have them of the

01:54

structure now in the water and I'm

01:57

wondering as we look at that thank you

01:59

um

02:00

given the large debris fied and the

02:04

number of levels of Investigation

02:07

including the NTSB the FBI is it going

02:10

to be difficult Ken to reach a

02:13

conclusion earlier early as to exactly

02:16

what happened how difficult will it be

02:19

um to put together the

02:21

evidence I don't think it's going to be

02:23

difficult at all um I suspect and I'm

02:27

only speculating of course I have no

02:28

knowledge but I suspect what's happened

02:30

is there was some kind of a failure of

02:32

some of the systems on the ship um it

02:35

just happens that I have some knowledge

02:37

of these ships and um there's uh of

02:40

course the main engines that Propel it

02:42

forward there's also thrusters that

02:44

allow the ship to move side to side and

02:46

I'm wondering especially in view of the

02:48

fact that it sounds like there was a a

02:49

Mayday or a warning ahead of time I'm

02:52

guessing that there was some sort of a

02:53

failure of one of the systems on board

02:55

the ship which caused it to Veer off

02:57

course and collide with the the with the

03:00

bridge pier and I think that probably

03:02

the investigation is going to show that

03:05

this wasn't because of a faulty Bridge

03:07

it was because of a faulty

03:09

ship could you give us some insight then

03:12

on to into why the ship lights may have

03:16

been flickering right before the ship

03:19

veered off Coast there have been reports

03:21

of lights flickering just mere moments

03:24

before the

03:26

Collision well no who knows um uh I I

03:30

know I I I really couldn't say speak to

03:33

that but would that be a human that was

03:34

flickering them would that be some sort

03:37

of mechanical or technical

03:39

breakdown well I guess it's possible

03:41

that somebody was flashing lights to try

03:43

to warn people but um I would think that

03:46

that would be fairly ineffective but the

03:47

fact that there was some sort of a

03:48

distress a distress call made uh

03:51

obviously that's a key aspect of of

03:54

what's going on here um so I suspect

03:58

that uh you know

04:00

um the uh people operating the ship

04:02

somehow knew that there was a problem

04:05

and they tried to warn authorities to

04:07

get people off the bridge and stop the

04:09

floor traffic Ken I'm going to squeeze

04:11

in one last question with you and that

04:14

um is about the age of this bridge we

04:17

understand that it was built in

04:19

1977 um again though we heard that there

04:21

were no structural issues that was

04:23

according to the the governor this

04:25

morning would a bridge today be built to

04:28

a different code than than it was in

04:31

1977 well the the current code would

04:34

surely be different than it was in

04:36

1977 um one aspect to this that occurred

04:40

to me was that you know back in

04:43

1977 uh the containerships were not as

04:46

large as they are today and I I Googled

04:48

just of my own curiosity this morning it

04:51

would appear that back in the

04:53

1970s uh these container ships were far

04:56

smaller uh than they are today um I

04:58

think today they're probably more than

04:59

double the size that they were in 1970

05:02

when this ship when this uh Bridge was

05:04

built and of course when we design

05:07

structures like this um Engineers you

05:10

know anticipate you know what if

05:13

something happens for example the dome

05:14

stadium in Toronto I believe you know

05:17

there's a lot of redundancy built into

05:18

that roof in the event that an airplane

05:20

were to crash into it we don't want the

05:22

whole roof to collap so it has to

05:24

maintain a certain structure so so in

05:27

the case of a bridge like this you would

05:29

expect that you'd want to design the

05:31

supports to be able to carry a certain

05:34

amount of impact um now of course the

05:36

size of impact that may have you know

05:39

been anticipated Back in 1970 may be

05:41

very very different than the size of

05:43

impact that actually occurred in a view

05:45

of the size of the ships that we have

05:47

today Ken hang tight I just do want to

05:50

ask you one other question but I want to

05:51

point out to our viewers that we are

05:52

looking at the river and we see the US

05:55

Coast Guard uh helicopters overhead

05:58

again as the search and rescue continues

06:00

so I lied Ken I got one more question

06:03

and that is we heard from the governor

06:04

that this is going to be a long-term

06:06

build rebuild of this bridge this is a

06:09

major commuter Bridge 35,000 Vehicles go

06:13

over this bridge every single day to the

06:15

port based on your experience how long

06:18

would it take to rebuild a bridge of

06:20

this size almost 3 kilometers long oh

06:24

boy it's going to be a long build I it

06:26

would be hard to imagine it would be

06:28

hard to imagine anything less than a

06:30

year I would say probably more like two

06:33

years it's going to be a long build Ken

06:36

thank you so much for being with us part

06:38

of our breaking news this morning Ken

06:39

Davis is a structural engineer and the

06:41

owner of KH Davis engineering

06:43

consultants in Toronto

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Related Tags
Bridge CollapseShip AccidentStructural EngineeringKen DavisTorontoSafety InvestigationEngineering AnalysisInfrastructureRescue OperationConstruction Standards