What technical lessons were learned from the failure? The thunderous roar of the collapse was heard 10 km away in Quebec (Pearson and Delatte 2006, p. 90). The piers were the only part of the structure that survived. Each pier rested on a concrete filled caisson that was 14.9 m wide, 7.6 m high, and 45.7 m long, weighing 16.2 MN (1,600 t) (Middleton 2001, pp.
The causes of the failure are best summarized by the Royal Commission Report. The load transferred to the opposite A9R chord that also buckled (Pearson and Delatte 2006, pp. The new units’ stresses were accepted based solely on Cooper’s reputation. Holgate, H., Derry, J., G. G., and Galbraith, J. Cooper was a famous bridge builder and consultant out of New York City, and he was chosen to be the consulting engineer for the Quebec Bridge. Back at the construction site, at roughly the same time the supervisors in Phoenixville were ending their meeting, the Quebec Bridge collapsed at 5:30 p.m. This added difficulty to the fabrication of such unusually large members. The top 5.8 m of each pier was made of solid granite. In 1916, a redesigned 5,000-ton center span was jacked into place from barges, but as thousands of spectators watched, it too crashed into the river when a jack bearing failed. At 67 feet wide, it can accommodate two sets of railway tracks, two sets of streetcar tracks and two roadways. Adding to the design problems, Cooper increased the original allowable stresses for the bridge. The serious defects were fundamental errors in design. The major one is that deformations went unheeded for so long. The failure of these chords was due to their defective design.”, “We do not consider that the specifications for the work were satisfactory or sufficient, the unit stresses in particular being higher than any established by past practice. A year later, the bridge was finally complete.
In May 1900, the clear span length was increased to 548.6 m by Theodore Cooper. Login American engineer Theodore Cooper was chosen to design it.
The Quebec Bridge Company was first incorporated by Act of Parliament under the government of Sir John A. Macdonald in 1887, later revived in 1891, once again revived for good in 1897 by the government of Wilfrid Laurier, who granted them an extension of time in 1900. The bridge across the St. Lawrence River, six-mile above Quebec City, was the brainchild of the Quebec Bridge Company, a group of local business people. The weight of the suspended span and the cantilever arms is counterbalanced by that of the anchor arms and an anchorage embedded in the anchor pier” (175). The bridge is immense, not only in length and weight but in width. In the end, “Cooper’s engineering expertise became the sole factor that was relied upon for assuring structural integrity of the bridge” (Roddis 1993). During the collapse, the workers were working on the cantilever arm. Al- though the workers who failed to report to work because of the deformations lacked the technical expertise, they seemed to be the only ones who understood what was really happening to the bridge (Middleton 2001, p. 78). The top and bottom chords for the anchor and cantilever arms of a bridge were typically designed as straight members.
This erroneous assumption was made by Mr. Szlapka and accepted by Mr. Cooper, and tended to hasten the disaster.”, “The loss of life on August 29, 1907, might have been prevented by the exercise of better judgment on the part of those in responsible charge of the work for the Quebec Bridge and Railway Company and for the Phoenix Bridge Company.”, “The failure on the part of the Quebec Bridge and Railway Company to appoint an experienced bridge engineer to the position of chief engineer was a mistake. Quebec Bridge is a road bridge, cantilever truss bridge and steel bridge that was completed in 1919.
The piers were tapered 1 in 12 until they reached the dimensions of 9.1 m by 40.5 m at the top. The ends of all the chords were shaped to allow for the small deflections that were expected to occur when the chords came under their full dead load. The erection foreman resumed worked the next day (the day before the collapse) without McLure’s permission, because he was confident the deflections were not a large concern. It would bridge the St. Lawrence River approximately 14 km north of Quebec connecting into the Grand Trunk rail line. The Quebec Bridge was included in the National Transcontinental Railway project, undertaken by the federal government. All rights reserved. 48–50). The cantilever arms would reach a total distance of 171.5 m. The fall of this massive bridge can be traced back to several technical factors. At 67 feet wide, it can accommodate two sets of railway tracks, two sets of streetcar tracks and two roadways. (1908) Royal Commission Quebec Bridge Inquiry Rep. Pearson, C., and Delatte, N. (2006). These were questioned by the bridge engineer for the railways and canals as being unusually high. What were the consequences of the failure? As the drop-in span is lifted into position a stirrup fails and the structure falls into the waters killing 11 workers. I n 1907 Quebec was building the biggest cantilever bridge in the world. What ethical lessons were learned from the failure? “Collapse of the Quebec Bridge, 1907.” J.Perform.Constr.Facil., Roddis, W. M. K. (1993) “Structural failures and engineering ethics.”, Group 062-10: Engineering Mistakes that caused Bridge Failures. The Quebec Bridge was the longest cantilever structure ever to be attempted during its day (Pearson and Delatte 2006, p. 85). Another concern during the erection of the bridge was the joints. The Quebec Bridge with its span of 1,801 feet, is still the world’s largest ever cantilever bridge. Figure 3: Quebec Bridge just before collapse. The A9L bottom compression chord, the one already bent, gave way under the increasing weight of the bridge. Several ethical concerns can be pointed out in this case. This error was of sufficient magnitude to have required the condemnation of the bridge, even if the details of the lower chords had been of sufficient strength, because, if the bridge had been completed as designed, the actual stresses would have been considerably greater than those permitted by the specifications. The wreckage is shown below in Figure 2. The completed piers would stand approximately 8 m above the highest water level. The Quebec Bridge was 20 years in the making, from the found ing of the Quebec Bridge Company in 1887 to the bridge’s col lapse in 1907.
Another ethical concern was Cooper’s rejection of an independent engineer to check his work. In its typical form cantilever arms projecting toward the center of the span from main piers are continuous with and counterbalanced by anchor arms extending between the main piers and anchor pier at each end. Do you really want to delete this item from your favorites? © 2020, American Society of Civil Engineers, Access my purchased publications and downloads, Make a donation to support ASCE's activities.
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