Legal Theory

Is Possible MN Bridge Design Flaw Nat'l?

Defective construction components known as gusset plates may have helped cause last week’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis, raising concern about other bridges constructed with the same components nationwide.

Hundreds of gusset plates, steel parts that connect bridge girders, were used on the Interstate 35 bridge, and they may not have been strong enough to withstand extra stresses such as the weight of bridge repair construction work, according to a very preliminary National Transportation Safety Board investigation. However, the fact that the possible construction defect has been publicized, resulting in a Federal Highway Administration warning to be careful about stressing bridges with too much construction weight, suggests that the concern could be significant, reports the New York Times.

But J. Richard Capka, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, minimized the problem today, reports the Associated Press. “Gusset plates have been around a long time, and they’ve been a reliable feature, and we have no indication that they’ve ever been part of a suspect bridge problem or a bridge failure before,” Capka told AP.

As discussed in a previous post, what is now considered an outdated design was used for the 40-year-old Minneapolis bridge. Gusset plates, however, are commonly used on many different types of bridges, the Times writes.

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