Design flaws blamed in fatal Wake Tech bridge collapse

Design flaws blamed in fatal Wake Tech bridge collapse (Image 1)

Investigators looking into a fatal pedestrian bridge collapse on Wake Tech’s campus in November 2014 said design flaws are to blame for the incident, however no citations have been issued.

The bridge collapsed on Nov. 13, 2014 on Wake Tech’s north campus, killing one and injuring four others. A second bridge collapsed the next day.

North Carolina’s Occupational Safety & Health division said that Stewart Engineering, Inc., the firm hired to prepare shop drawings to the bridge, should have been aware of the design flaws.

In a letter to the firm, OSHNC said “engineering design deficiencies contributed to the collapse of both pedestrian bridges.”

Although OSHNC did not determine that there were any violations of occupational or health standards, they did say that the “fatality and injuries were a direct result of the collapse of bridge #1.”

OSHNC was also unable to establish that Stewart Engineering, Inc. had any of its employees exposed to hazardous conditions associated with the design flaw and therefore cannot issue citations under the state General Duty Clause.

Stewart Engineering, Inc. released a statement Friday morning that said they would not comment publicly on the investigation:

“Stewart cooperated fully with the OSHA investigation and is committed to continue in that regard with other investigations. Because of ongoing investigations, it is not appropriate for us to discuss this matter publicly at this time. We continue to assist and work earnestly with all the involved parties to move the process forward.”

OSHNC said it was not issuing citations to Skanska USA Building, Inc, the projects contractor. Citations could not be recommended since there are no laws related to bridge design.

OSHNC shared its finding with the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors because engineering design issues would fall under its purview.

Everything is on the table from reprimand to taking an engineer’s license,” said Andrew Ritter of NCBEES. “We can reprimand an engineer. We can reprimand and issue a civil penalty up to $5,000.”

Crews broke ground on the project at Wake Tech on April 15. The project included pedestrian bridges, a parking deck and an 87,000 square-foot building that would house a library, learning commons and a tutoring center.


Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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