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I-35W Bridge
Bridge Background
Bridge Collapse August 1, 2007
Emergency Response
Rescue Operations
Traffic Management

I35W Bridge A Transportation

Agencys Emergency Response

August 2, 2007
Investigation Begins
Media Coverage
Responding to Public and Media
Recovery of Victims and Bridge Removal

Dan Dorgan

Mn/DOT Actions Following August 2007

State Bridge Engineer

Minnesota Department of Transportation

NTSB Investigation
Minnesota Legislature: Victims Fund and
Transportation Funding
Impact on Employees

February 15, 2010

Observations - Lessons Learned

I-35W Bridge
Bridge Background

I-35W Bridge

Bridge Completed in 1967

1907 Feet Long
3 span continuous truss

Main span 456


11 approach spans

ADT 141,000
Sufficiency Rating 50.0


Annually Inspected
Mn/DOT 20 year plan called for
Replacement/Renovation 2020-25

July 1967


Two Previous Studies of the Bridge

2001 University of Minnesota

Fatigue Evaluation of the Deck
Truss of Bridge 9340

2007 Fatigue
Fatigue Evaluation and
Redundancy Analysis

Multi Girder Approach Spans Had

Required Retrofits for Cracks at
Diaphragm Connection


Previous Bridge Modifications

1977 Concrete overlay

1998 Railing repair, drainage system, minor deck
1999 Painting Portion of Truss Spans
1999 Anti Icing System
2001 Curb & Slab repair

Contract Maintenance Work at Time of Collapse

Contract to replace concrete

overlay, and repair joints.

Work completed:
North bound two inside lanes
South bound two outside lanes

Scheduled completion date

was September 30, 2007

Average yearly Mn/DOT Maintenance Hours 500

Contractor employees and Mn/DOT

inspectors on bridge at collapse

August 1, 2007
The Collapse

Collapse occurs at 6:05 p.m.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Over 100 vehicles on the

bridge at the time
13 fatalities
140 injuries

North End

North End I 35W Bridge South End

Main Span


Pier 6 South End Main Span

South Spans

Emergency Response

6:05 p.m.
Numerous calls to 911
Motorists on bridge, construction
workers, citizens in area assist
personnell ffrom Twin
T i
Cities and Western Wisconsin

6:10 p.m.
District Emergency Operations
Center activated

Mn/DOTs Regional
Transportation Management
Center (RTMC)

Immediate traffic control for ramp and

freeway closures provided by FIRST units,
maintenance units, and contractors in the


Response the First 12 Hours

Unified command
center set up on
collapse site.

Mpls Fire Department in
charge of rescue operation
Hennepin County Sheriff in
charge of recovery

Rescue operations
well coordinated by

August 1, 2007

First 12 Hours (continued)

First 12 Hours (continued)

6:20 p.m.

7:00 p.m.
Over 150 employees activated,
most just returned without a call

10:00 p.m.
Governor and Mayor provide an
d t tto public.
bli N
b off
victims unknown.
Rescue Operations Ended,
Recovery Begins

11:00 p.m.
Detour maps for a.m. rush posted
on Mn/DOT Web site

Expanded signing and barricades
of closed I-35W
Converted T.H. 280 to a freeway

Maintenance started converting I-

35W temporary traffic control

measures to longer term traffic
control standards with barriers and
20 changeable message signs
800 megahertz communication
system was critical for responders

I-35W Detour Map

Key Decisions Early August 2nd

Division of Tasks
Dedicate a team to bridge replacement
Identify individuals that would address questions on the
collapsed bridge
Retain a forensic expert for the collapse investigation

Previous planning for a bridge emergency

replacement addressed typical interchange
bridges, not a major river crossing.


August 2, 2008

Media Coverage August 2nd

Mn/DOT Engineers assess stability of

wreckage for recovery personnel

Governor announces
Emergency Statewide Bridge
Inspections beginning with
underdeck trusses
Forensic Investigation Team

Mn/DOT retains Wiss Janney Elstner

and TranSystems/Lichtenstein for
forensic investigation
Federal Agencies Arrive at Command
Site FEMA, FBI, Coast Guard, OSHA,
OIG, FTA, NTSB, Rick Capka and
National FHWA staff

Wiss Janney Elstner


Independent Review of

NTSB Leads Investigation Team

Law Enforcement and NTSB Update
Victims Families
Mn/DOT Engineering Team is organized
for rapid replacement

Governor Conducts interviews

throughout morning
2:00 pm Press Conference

Command Site

Mn/DOT Inspection Program

FHWA Participates
Mn/DOT provides bridge background
and responds to questions

National and International News

Organizations present
National Transportation Safety
Board Begins Updates


Responding to Public and Media Requests


Responding to Public and Media Requests

Held Daily 2:00 pm Press


Became only means to respond to

volume of requests
Format was Statement, Update on specific
issue, Open to questions
Length was held to a reasonable time 30
to 45 minutes
When it ended,, held questions
till next dayy

Document requests were


Website posting of plans,

inspection reports, bridge

Dedicated I-35W Website
included all documents

Approach to Press Conferences

Share the information we possess

Be factual and calm
Avoid speculation. Ok to admit you dont

It is Ok to stop and think before
Use non-engineering terms when possible
Provide information that informs the public
Keep accusatory questions in perspective
lives have been lost

Mn/DOT goal was to be


8/3/07 Press Conference

Later needed to remove

inspectors names after
calls were made to their


National Response

Responding to Public and Media Requests


Mn/DOT priority was local

media requests
Within days,
days some began their
own investigations and
Correcting factual errors
consumed time
Document Management
System established to gather
and store all bridge

Aug. 2 Secretary Peters and

FHWA Administrator Capka on

Aug. 4 - President Bush pledges

t cutt red
d tape
th t could
ld delay
d l

Several site visits by Secretary

Peters and President Bush, and
continuing presence by Rick

Spectators and Media on Adjacent

10th Avenue Bridge

Recovery of Victims

Within days, Congress authorizes $250

million in Emergency Relief money to replace
bridge and restore highway facilities to predisaster conditions

Total Federal Emergency Relief $373.5M

Access to site controlled by police and fending

Aug. 6 Careful bridge demolition began to aid
recovery, and NTSB investigation
Navy Divers from Norfolk, VA assist in recovery
NTSB Investigation Team Supervises Removal
All steel members marked and indexed
Members removed by torch underwater cuts
could take 1-4 hours
Extensive coordination required with divers,
sheriff, investigators and contractor
Site protocol followed during recovery of victims
Navy Dive Team

Navy Divers Perspective

Assigned bridge
engineers to assist
NTSB not previously
involved in bridge
Aug. 20 Navy Divers
recover 13th victim, site
turned over to Mn/DOT
Sept. 6 - Navigation
channel opened to
commercial traffic
Sept. 27 Final steel
removed from river
Removing Wreckage from Navigation Channel


Structural Steel Laid Out

On River Flats

September 2007 November 2008

Anticipate and Act

Identify what we should do

Resulting from the investigation or internal process reviews

Dont wait Take action

Take opportunities to communicate what you are doing

Encouraged and reassured our staff

Keep them focused

Minnesota Actions Following

August 1, 2007

Understand rebuilding credibility is a journey

Minnesota Actions (Continued)

Bridge Inspection

Peer Review of Major Bridge Designs April 2008

Aug. 2 - Governor directs MnDOT to inspect

all bridges on the trunk highway system
in priority order

Spans over 250 feet

U i
id ttypes

Independent design review by a separate design firm

Inspection continued of all MnDOT

bridges, with priority to fracture critical
bridges and those rated structurally

By December 21, 2007

3875 MnDOT bridges inspected
840 Local Bridges
Supplemented MnDOT inspection
teams with PB Americas, Michael
Baker, HDR, Volkert, and STV

Design Criteria and Assumptions

Review of Design
Constructability Review


Minnesota Actions (Continued)

Minnesota Actions (Continued)

Bridge Inspection
Governor Directs Mn/DOT to conduct an independent Stem to
Stern review of bridge inspection program

Mn/DOT retains PB Americas to conduct

301 bridges inspected and used in Condition Rating Comparison

Findings June 2008

Condition ratings for 282/301 bridges within 1 NBI rating

MnDOT Program Consistent with other States and complies with NBIS
Better documentation to track- inspection findings to follow up

Process Reviews of Internal Procedures

Completed as a follow-up to PB study and Legislative Auditor Study

Internal QC/QA Design Procedures are under review


maintenance actions
Clarify responsibilities between routine and fracture critical inspection

Consolidated documentation of QA/QC procedures for Routine and

Fracture Critical Inspections

Increased use of UT to assess corrosion

Revised procedures to document maintenance follow up to inspection


January 15, 2008 Press Conference

Gusset Plate Reviews and Inspections

January 15, 2008
NTSB urges truss and gusset
plate load ratings for bridges
citing design error in I-35W

Informed the public we had already begun the design review of

gusset plates on our truss bridges

Committed to completing the process by July of 2008

Shared the purpose was to determine if original designs were

Mn/DOT developed a checking

process for gusset plates in
October-November 2007
No software or rating methods
existed for checking truss
gusset plates, few examples in
Mn/DOT began the analysis of
several bridges in Fall 2007


Noted we had no reason to suspect a similar error this was


Truss Bridge Gusset Plate Checks Performed

by Mn/DOT in 2008

Rivets/bolts in shear and bearing

Buckling at ends of diagonals

Flexure at sections cut along length and height of gusset plate

Tension at ends of all tension members

Block shear at ends of all tension members

Gusset Plate free edge unsupported length to thickness ratio

Mn/DOT conducted news conference following NTSB

Press Conference on January 15

Gusset Plate Rating Results

By July 1, 2008:

25 trusses load rated to

verify original design was

Augustt 1
1, 2008

25 bridge field
inspections of gussets

No design deficiencies
similar to I-35W found

Wabasha Bridge


Results of Reviews

Documentation of Losses

Typical Areas of Loss

Gusset Plates Below:

Deck Joints
Drain Pipes

Section Loss Areas:

Visual ( 1/8) & NDT (


Interior Face Along Chord (Red)

Interior Face Along Edges of
Diagonals (Green)
Interior Face Along Edges of
Verticals (Blue)
Exterior Face Along Top of
Lateral Brace Gusset Plate

Quantify Depths
Quantify Areas
Identify Locations
Include Contours

Extensive use of ultrasonic

devices to measure plate

Blatnik Bridge

Results of Reviews

St. Cloud Bridge closed and replacement accelerated

Blatnik Bridge in Duluth gusset stiffened to restore full
safety factor
Winona Bridge reinforced gusset due to corrosion
All necessary repairs were completed by July 2008

Press Conferences Held in Each City Impacted

Local press conference on the day we restricted or closed a

Commissioner, State Bridge Engineer, District Engineer, and
Elected Officials Participated.
Commissioner emphasized safety was our number one
Described what our inspectors had discovered.
Why we needed to act.
Stated we were acting conservatively out of an abundance of
Committed to repairing as soon as possible.
Promised to update them on progress.

Blatnik Bridge


Closed March 20, 2008-Replacement Accelerated


Restricted May 6, 2008 1 Lane Each Direction
Repairs Completed July 2008

$1.1 Million Repair Job

Overlay weight and
Previous Corrosion had
reduced Safety Factors at
29 Locations





Closed Temporarily June 3, 2008

Repairs Completed July 2008

$108,000 total cost

Corrosion had
reduced Safety
Factors at 15 locations

Hearings and Investigations

Minnesota Actions
Revised Bridge Construction Load Specifications in
response to FHWA August 8, 2007 Advisory April

Unless otherwise allowed in plans, limits construction to loadings

similar to design liveload.
Construction materials limited to 65,000 lb per 1000 SF.
Individual Stockpiles limited to 25,000 lb per 100 SF.
Vehicles, materials, equipment limited to 200,000 lbs per span.
Alternate loadings require submittal by contractors engineer and
approval of Mn/DOT Project Engineer.

National Transportation Safety Board


Congressional Hearing September 2007

Several Minnesota Legislative Hearings Regarding
Transportation Issues and the I35W Bridge
Investigative Report to Joint Committee to
Investigate the I35W Bridge Collapse May 2008
Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of
Minnesota Evaluation Report: State Highways
and Bridges February 2008

NTSB Investigation Results November 13-14, 2008 NTSB Public

Collapse of I-35W Highway Bridge
Minneapolis, Minnesota August 1, 2007 Page 152

NTSB led the investigation with a team of professionals

including metallurgists, engineers, and experienced

ti ti Docket
D k t has
h b
been posted
t d on th
the NTSB
website at: www.ntsb.gov under Highway Accidents.

Process was very disciplined progressing through fact

finding, analysis, conclusions and recommendations.

Probable cause inadequate load capacity due

to a design error by Sverdrup & Parcel and
Associates, of the gusset plates at the U10
nodes which failed under a combination of


Substantial increases in the weight of the bridge,

which resulted from previous bridge modifications,
The traffic and concentrated construction loads on
the bridge on the day of collapse.

NTSB parties and contributors to the investigation

included the FHWA, Wiss Janney, Elstner and
Transystems, Mn/DOT, Jacobs Engineering, and PCI.



NTSB Investigation Results (Continued)

Collapse of I-35W Highway Bridge
Minneapolis, Minnesota August 1, 2007 Page 152

Contributing to the design error was the failure of

Sverdrup & Parcels quality control procedures to
ensure that the appropriate main truss gusset plate
calculations were performed for the I-35W bridge and
the inadequate design review by Federal and State
transportation officials.

Contributing to the accident was the generally accepted

practice among Federal and State transportation
officials of giving inadequate attention to gusset plates
during inspections for conditions of distortion, such as
bowing, and of excluding gusset plates in load rating

Mn/DOT Communication Following

November 13-14, 2008 NTSB Hearing

Minnesota 2008 Transportation Funding

Commissioner responded to media

following the hearing expressing thanks
to the NTSB
Due to actions already taken, Mn/DOT
was able to state action was complete or
underway regarding all NTSB

2008 Transportation Bill

Bridge Replacements Completed to Date

41 bridge projects are completed or
13 major
j bridge
g p
planned over
the next 8 years with 6 Mississippi River

License Plate Fee and 5 cent Gas Tax Increase

$1.8 billion in bonding of which $600M bridges
Up to 3.5 cent added gas tax for bond payments
By June 2018, replace all bridges rated SD and below 50,
and FC bridges, unless reason documented to remain in
Approximately 120 bridges to be replaced or repaired

Victims Fund Legislation

Existing statutory limits on liability inadequate

$37 million in payments completed

Impacts on Employees and Organization

Responded well on August 1. They returned without a call.
Tremendous strength and perseverance shown.
Stress debriefings were valuable tools to share emotions.
We watched for signs of employee struggles with mental and
health. Reassigned
to other duties as needed.
Communicate with employees as often as possible, rather than
the news be their source. Provided reassurance.
Important to have Governor and other leaders in forefront to help
reassure the public.
Media communication handled by Assistant Commissioner and
Bridge Engineer to allow employees to focus on their job.



Observations and Lessons Learned


Observations and Lessons Learned

Existing partnerships/relationships with the FHWA,
Minneapolis, and other agencies were key in responding
to the tragedy.
Dedicating a team solely to rapid replacement was
needed. Others dealt with collapse.
Establish a Web Site to make information public versus
responding to individual data requests.
Daily News conferences are manageable, individual
interviews are overwhelming.

A redundant traffic management system

is invaluable.
Understand politics will be part of it.
Within tragedy is also the impetus to
review processes and improve, be open
to the opportunity.


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