Bridge collapse that killed one has ties to Okanagan

The collapse of two pedestrian bridges under construction at a North Carolina college has links to the Okanagan.

The collapse of two pedestrian bridges under construction at a North Carolina college has links to the Okanagan.

The bridge, part of an expansion project at Wake Tech Community College, near Raleigh, NC, used gluelam stringers made by Structurlam Wood Products as part of the design of the 76-metre bridge.

Four men were injured and one killed, falling a dozen metres into the wetland the pedestrian bridge was supposed to cross, on Nov. 13 when the central span collapsed. No one was injured when a second bridge of identical design collapsed later.

“It’s going to be an investigation that goes on for a while,” said Structurlam president Bill Downing, adding that it is a struggle for the company to work through this. “It was unfortunate that there was a couple of injuries and a loss of life there, and our condolences to those folk, but I can’t speculate as to anything that happened there.”

Murvyn Kowalsky, a professor of structural engineering at NC State, is reported as saying the cause is related to a problem with the design or with the construction.

The accident happened while concrete was being poured for the 40-metre centre section of the bridge by the contractor, Raleigh-based J.O. Concrete. Photos of the accident scene show the Structurlam girders whole and unbroken.

Downing points to Structurlam’s long reliability record for their products.

“Nothing of ours has ever broke in 52 years,” said Downing. “We do lots of pedestrian bridges.”

North Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health division is handling the investigation, which could take six months to be completed and for any possible citations to be issued.