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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why and how it fell

Posted by Alejandra at 12:16 PM No comments:

Newspaper clip from "El Universal"

"At around 11:00 am, 80% of the viaduct fell and the end came. Of the 309 meters
of the structure that used to communicate Caracas with the Guaira, 264 meters fell
74 days after the bridge was closed. A curtain of dust rose, among with water, since
two water pipes that eventually sorted water to Vargas collapsed. There were no
victims. The rupture of several power lines caused a blackout in the Nueva Esparta
and Tacagua Vieja slums."
"The Guaira.- 74 days after it's official closure, at 11:00 am on Sunday, march 19,
the announced death and fall of the Caracas-La Guaira highway viaduct 1 occurred.
A loud noise product of the structures vibrations surprised the surrounding
inhabitants and the few government officials that guarded the contingency road, ho
were alarmed when the bridge fell in 80% of it's extension. After remaining closed
since January 5 because of a crack on the floor, a piece of the viaduct remained, on
the Caracas side, while the rest fell into an uninhabited cliff. Of the viaducts 309
meters long, it was calculated that 246 meters fell and 63 remain..."
By R. ESCALONA for the "EL UNIVERSAL" newspaper

Posted by Alejandra at 11:41 AM No comments:

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Death of the viaduct

About 20 minutes ago (11:30 am approximate) the Guaira side of the viaduct fell. A
few moments later the whole thing collapsed. The images on TV are incredible only

one pier is left standing. A water pipe broke. Debris everywhere. I'll have some
pictures soon.
The viaduct had been closed a few months back and a provisional path had been
built crossing over the the stream. It was opened during Carnival and I believe it to
be very dangerous when it rains.
It's a shame that it fell. Now there is a huge void where the beautiful viaduct once
Here's a map of the alternate roads to get to or from Caracas to the Guaira:
Posted by Alejandra at 8:10 AM 1 comment:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I created this blog so I can post my english final project about bridges. Most students are
going to use bridges from other countries but I decided to use is the "viaducto Caracas- La
Guaira" that is right here in Venezuela and right now it is generating controversy because it is
about to collapse.

Posted by Alejandra at 11:20 PM 4 comments:

The Caracas-The Guaira Highway

Caracas and the Guaira are two of Venezuela's most important cities. Caracas is the
country's capital and the Guaira contains the country's main port and the nation's
most important international airport, the Maiquetia Airport, there are only two or
three other international airports. The only link between these two cities is the
Caracas-La Guaira Highway, which was one of the engineering wonders of the
hemisphere when it was inaugurated 50 years ago during the dictatorship of Marcos
Prez Jimnez.
"The highway is about 20 miles long and goes from sea level, at the airport, to
about 3,000 feet in Caracas through mountainous topography. Two tunnels are built
through solid metamorphic rocks and three large viaducts (bridges) span areas
where no conventional road building was possible." It takes about an hour and a
half from one city to the other if there is no traffic.

"For maybe two decades this highway remained as one of the better examples of
the new and progressive Venezuela. Slowly at first, more rapidly later, the
surrounding hills became full of shacks, ranchos, built in pronounced slopes without

proper water drainage, without proper foundations or trash removal services. The
tons of waste and water percolating down the soil into the ground weakened
progressively the stable rocks, rendering them frictionless. Moderate to more
serious landslides began to take place. In essence, whole mountain slopes are
today creeping down on to the highway, pressuring the viaducts and threatening
their survival. In fact, the viaducts are condemned to fail sooner or later due to the
tangential forces produced by the creeping mountains."
Posted by Alejandra at 9:12 AM No comments:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

This map shows the location of the Caracas-The Guaira Highway in brown; the old
road is in pink. The mountains of the "Cordillera de la Costa" make the distance
between Caracas and the Guaira seem longer.

Here is a closer look at the highway, in this map the location of all three viaducts
can be seen as well as the two tunnels, the Boquern 1 and 2. The three viaducts
cross the Tacagua River.

Posted by Alejandra at 9:39 PM No comments:

Purpose of the bridge

The bridge is part of the Caracas-The Guaira Highway, an important system of
viaducts and tunnels that connect Venezuela's capital to the country's most
important port and airport. Since the bridge is part of a highway, automobiles only
use it.
Posted by Alejandra at 11:45 AM No comments:

Type of Bridge
Viaduct 1 is an arch bridge that transfers the weight of the bridge down along the
arch to the abutments where the arch meets the canyon walls.

Posted by Alejandra at 10:00 AM No comments:


The first viaduct on the Caracas-The Guaira highway is one of the biggest concrete
arches in the world and has been considered the most important latinamerican
construction after the Panana Canal.
Posted by Alejandra at 9:59 AM No comments:

The Viaduct #1 is an engineering masterpiece in Venezuela. It was designed and
built by the French Company Campenon Bernard. Professor Eugene Freyssinet and
the young engineer Jean Muller, important pieces of this company, worked on this
"Freyssinet created innovative architecture using reinforced concrete as his main
material. More an engineer than an architect, Freyssinet still managed to introduce
several collaborative architectural works. His projects generally revolved around an
experimental search for a common language. His designs allowed for a free
expression of materials and spaces while working within the limits of technology. He
was considered the father of pre-stressed concrete."
Posted by Alejandra at 9:47 AM No comments:

Techology involved in its construction


When Eugene Freyssinet started designing the viaducts of the Caracas-La Guaira
highway, he saw that the span that was to be covered (152 m.) was similar to the
Plougastel viaduct (184 m.). This bridge was also designed by him in 1930 and
used simple arches of concrete. Since the Caracas bridge would have lighter loads,
Freyssinet used three parallel arches instead of one and improved the design of the
hollow arc used in Plougastel, optimizing the use of materials and using for the first
time prestressed concrete.
It was better to use articulated supports to reduce the stress transmitted to the
foundations because of the weak characteristics of the ground surrounding the
Tacagua River. The incorporation of articulated supports in the design of the Caracas
viaducts helped save an important amount of structural materials.


1. The Viaduct #1 was the first of three that was built. In this drawing the
foundations were being built. The foundation on the side of the Guaira was a large
hollow element because of the clay like ground and on the rocky Caracas side the
foundation consisted on deep pillars excavated by hand.

2. On each side the beams and other prefabricated elements needed for the lateral
accesses were built. The prefabricated beams are about 15m long and weigh 23
tons. The large piers were built.


3. A new construction system was used building the arch, the forth part of the arch
on both sides was made first in cantilever. These parts were expanded in four fazes.

4. The middle part of the arch was built bellow its final position and was risen. This
element was about 81m long and 21m wide. The arch is really three arches that are

5. When the arch was complete the base for the road was built.

6. The formwork was removed and the road, sidewalks and finishing touches were

The viaduct was opened on December 2nd 1953.