Bridges are one of the most important engineering structures in the world. Why? Because they connect people and societies all around the world! Bridge engineering companies in the world try to make incredible bridges. However, like any other structure, safety must be the top priority when building these bridges because people’s lives are at stake if something happens to the bridges. Skills for bridge engineers are also needed. The following content will talk about some of the worst bridge collapses in history and the engineering issues around them.
1. Ponte des Barcas aka “Boats Bridge” in Porto (or Oporto), Portugal
In Porto Portugal, there are 6 bridges that represent one of the most visually appealing structures in the region of Porto. Many tourists who visit the region take the famous 6 bridges tour, which is a tour on a boat that goes through the 6 bridges over the river Douro.
In 1806, the first Porto bridge was inaugurated. However, the design of the bridge was very particular. At the time, the bridge was built by connecting several wooden boats together instead of building it with cables or structural members. At the time, the first Porto bridge was considered to be stable and could be dismounted and reassembled at any given time. However, in 1809, a tragic event happened. The French attacked the city of Portugal and over 4,000 people started to cross the bridge. The bridge at the time was not designed to hold so much weight, so it eventually collapsed, causing a lot of deaths. What’s more tragic was that even after the bridge collapsed, people had no other choice but to jump into the Douro river because the French troops were pushing the people out of the city. This incident is recorded as the worst bridge collapse because it caused the deaths of at least 4,000 people.
2. Eitai-Bashi Bridge in Tokyo, Japan
Constant monitoring and maintenance of a structure are important for its structural health. If a structure is not taken care of, it will eventually be worn and become structurally unstable under different loads. A perfect structure that showed such issues was the Eitai-Bashi Bridge in Tokyo Japan. The wooden bridge was built in 1698, but the people living on either side of the bridge started arguing about who should be paying for the bridge repairs and maintenance. Under such disputes, the Eitai-Bashi Bridge was eventually left without taken care of, and during a big festival, the bridge became overloaded by the people crossing it that it collapsed and killed nearly 1,400 people.
After the event, a second bridge was built using a stronger material (iron). Furthermore, the people living at each side of the bridge decided to keep good maintenance of the bridge and pay for any repairs if there were any structural issues. However, the bridge collapsed again during the Great Kanto Earthquake. In 1926, the bridge was once again rebuilt using a muscular design as well as technologies and materials that could make the structure able to withstand the constant earthquakes happening near Japan. This bridge structure is a great example in which engineers and designers can learn from their mistakes and make improvements accordingly.
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