3 Major Civil Engineering Breakthroughs that Came from Failures: Pt 1

Check out 3 epic engineering failures of the century and discover the lessons learned – what measures have been taken, what breakthroughs have come about, what new technologies have been inspired and what legislation has been put in place to ensure they never happen again.

1. Quebec Bridge

Purpose: The bridge was designed to serve a multifunctional purpose accommodating various forms of transport. It was built 67 -feet wide to make room for 2 streetcar tracks, 2 railway tracks and 2 roadways.

Construction completed in: 1917

Location: Across the St Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada.

Height: It was built 150 feet above water level to give shipping vessels enough room to pass-by underneath. At the time it was the longest cantilever bridge ever constructed.

Catastrophic failure #1: On August 29, 1907, 86 bridge workers were killed by 19,000 tonnes of falling steel.

Failure due to: engineering negligence – compression chord bending was overlooked.

Catastrophic failure: #2: During bridge rebuilding, a centre span dislodged while it was being hoisted up into position, dropping into the water and taking the lives of 13 workers with it.

Failure due to: load calculation mistakes and design errors bear the brunt of blame, but professional negligence on the part of the workers also played a role.

The failure led to: The Quebec Bridge was eventually completed and is still standing today. This final, successful version was one of the first major engineering projects to make use of nickel alloy steel, an alloy which supports stresses 40 times that of carbon steel.

Discover the final 2 of 3 Major Engineering Fails which led to Progress & Breakthroughs in Pt 2 (coming soon)


This article was originally published on EngineerJobs.com.au