5 Devastating Bridge Collapses

Volgorad Bridge

A newly built bridge in Volgograd, southern Russia, has been closed by the authorities because it began to sway dangerously in the wind. Several cars were on the new bridge at the time but no casualties were recorded. The video above shows just what horrifying movement these poor people experienced, but in some respects they were lucky. At least they lived to tell the tale.

During the twentieth century, several terrible bridge disasters unfolded, not the least of which was the catastrophic demise of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Crossing Puget Sound, it opened on July 1, 1940. Very soon it had acquired a horrendous nickname, “Galloping Gertie”, due to the vertical movement of the deck observed by construction workers during windy conditions. Just how bad this was can be seen in the video footage below. The bridge collapsed into Puget Sound on the morning of November 7, 1940, under high wind conditions.

1. Tacoma Narrows Bridge

At around 7.30am on May 9, 1980, during a violent rain squall with almost zero visibility, the empty freight vessel, Summit Venture, piloted by Captain John Lerro, slammed into the South Pier of the southbound span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida. The ship knocked 1261 feet of centre span and roadway into the waters of Tampa Bay.

2. Sunshine Skyway Bridge After Collision
SkywayaccidentPhoto: St. Petersburg Times via wiki

Thirty-five people, most of them on board a Greyhound bus bound for Miami plunged 150 feet to their deaths in one of the worst bridge disasters in history. Rescue crews and divers were immediately dispatched to the scene, but of the victims who made the fall there was only one survivor, whose good fortune had been that his truck landed on the deck of the ship instead of plunging into the sea.

3. Injaka Bridge Before Collapse
injaka afterPhoto: via klasslooch

Of course, other countries also experienced their own share of tragedy. On July 6, 1998, a bridge under construction at Mpumalangda, near Bosbokrand, South Africa, collapsed suddenly, causing the deaths of 14 people, while a further 19 were injured.

Injaka Bridge After Collapse
injaka afterPhoto: via klasslooch

4. K-B Bridge Before Collapse
KB beforePhoto: via ketchum

The Koror-Babeldaob Bridge was a 790-ft span concrete box girder bridge in Palau, connecting the two islands after which it was named. The 18-year old bridge collapsed abruptly and catastrophically on September 26, 1996, killing two and injuring four other people

K-B Bridge After Collapse
KB afterPhoto: via ketchum

On March 4, 2001, Portugal experienced tragedy when the metal bridge across the Douro River at Entre-os-Rios, some 160 miles northeast of Lisbon – which had opened in 1887 – collapsed catastrophically, sending a bus packed with day trippers and three cars plunging into the swollen river. The bridge had been over 100 years old, but 59 people died and many were injured in what was the country’s worst ever road accident.

5. I-35 Bridge Before Collapse
I-35 beforePhoto: via Hiway71 / wiki

The Interstate-35W Mississippi River bridge was an eight-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate 35W across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. During the evening rush hour on August 1, 2007, it also collapsed without warning, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge carried 140,000 vehicles daily. A design flaw was cited as the likely cause of the collapse, and it was asserted that additional weight on the bridge at the time of the collapse contributed to the catastrophic failure.

I-35 Bridge After Collapse
I-35 bridgePhoto: Kevin Rofidal, United States Coast Guard

These examples are among the worst ever bridge collapse disasters in history, and one cannot help but wonder how engineers can sometimes get it so wrong when they design and build these things. It is difficult to imagine anything more terrifying than driving across a bridge 100ft or more above the ground and suddenly finding it disappearing under you. Not something I would ever want to experience firsthand. God no.