This case involves the collapse of the structural beam of a bridge. The bridge had been completed several months prior to the accident, and there had been no major incidents during or after its construction. The beam collapsed as cargo ship was passing underneath, killing 3 crew members, injuring 15, and causing severe damage to the goods being transported. An expert in structural engineering with a great deal of experience with bridge support beams was sought to review the case facts and opine on liability for the collapse.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your background in structural engineering.
- 2. Please explain your experience with beam support.
Expert Witness Response E-078704
I have a Ph.D. in civil and structural engineering with over a decade of experience with research and teaching in structural engineering. I am currently an associate professor of civil engineering with a structural engineering background. I received my doctorate degree from a midwestern university with a research focus in structural and concrete. My Ph.D. area relates to bridges and repair. I also taught the steel design course for many years and most of the basic structural engineering courses. I have solid knowledge in that area as I teach such things and I was involved in repairing bridge beams either due to accidents damage or corrosion/aging. Steel bridge beams with time experience corrosion and loss of material especially at the joints and supports. Therefore, the initial design strength and consequent safety factor will be significantly reduced. During demolition, care and provisions must be previously established as the load will be redistributed to other members when removing others. Moreover, the added loading due to demolishing of other members may have caused such sudden/catastrophic failure.