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NCE Live News Updates 24 May 2013: Bridge collapses in Seattle; £2.4bn for Hurricane Sandy infrastructure projects

The collapse of the interstate bridge near Seattle last night was triggered by a truck hitting a steel girder, it has been confirmed. Meanwhile the US government has pledged $3.7bn (£2.4bn) for infrastructure projects in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

5pm: The collapse of the interstate bridge near Seattle last night was triggered by a truck hitting a steel girder, it has been confirmed.

A portion of the four-lane bridge over the Skagit river in Washington State gave way on Thursday evening local time (see story below).

A spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation told NCE: ‘We have confirmed reports that a truck with an overweight load hit a steel girder and caused the collapse.’

He said contractors would be engaged to restore the route, a main artery to Canada, when an investigation had been completed.

3.30pm: Climate change minister Greg Barker has written to the Times newspaper defending low carbon energy production.

Author Matt Ridley wrote in an opinion piece in the Times on 20 May that more damage was being done by climate-change policies than by climate change itself.

Ridley wrote: “Hunger, rainforest destruction, excess cold-weather deaths and reduced economic growth are all exacerbated by the rush to biomass and wind.”

Barker responded: “Reducing global dependence on volatile fossil fuels is a huge challenge but one which will also create many opportunities.

“Waiting to see how the climate actually changes is not an option – by then it will be too late to reverse the damage.”

2.30pm: Thomas Vale Construction and Stoke-based CMR Demolitions have been fined after a roof collapse seriously injured a worker.

Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court heard that no temporary supports were in place while timber-framed classrooms were demolished at the former Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College site in Fenton in November 2011.

The building collapsed, and a man was struck by part of the roof, suffering fractured ribs, a broken shoulder bone, shattered teeth and swelling to the head.

Main contractor Thomas Vale Construction, based in Stourport-on-Severn, was fined £6,600 and ordered to pay £6,117 in costs. Subcontractor CMR Demolitions was fined £9,900 and ordered to pay £6,117 in costs.

12.30pm: The bank holiday weather may be up to its usual standard but there is better news on the roads with 80% of construction projects suspended for the long weekend.

The Highways Agency said 200 miles of roadworks would be completed this morning, with another 130 miles of works suspended until Tuesday.

Simon Sheldon-Wilson, director of traffic management at the Agency, said: “The Highways Agency is helping people have better journeys on our roads this bank holiday.

“We are lifting or completing over 340 miles of roadworks on England’s motorways and major A roads.”

12pm: Construction of a 500MW wind farm off the coast of Suffolk has been approved by the government.

Developer Galloper Wind Farm will also build infrastructure at Sizewell to connect the wind farm to the electricity grid.  

It says the 140-turbine development will provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 500,000 homes a year when completed in 2017.  

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “Galloper wind farm will provide large amounts of clean energy, support jobs and generate major investment in Suffolk.”

11.30am: Poor construction methods and the use of low quality materials have been cited as the main causes of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in bangladesh last month, according to reports.

A 400-page study by a government-led investigating committee also said the eight-storey structure had been built on ‘unsuitable land’, press reports said.

The man in charge of the investigation, Mainuddin Khandker Ahmed, told the Associated Press news agency: “A portion of the building was constructed on land which had been a body of water before and was filled with rubbish.”

Vibrations from the thousands of garment makers’ machines, along with their combined weight, were said to have made the building unstable.

11am: The US government has pledged $3.7bn (£2.4bn) for infrastructure projects in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said the money would be shared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York; the New York City Department of Transportation; New Jersey Transit; and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Roughly two-thirds of it will be for rebuilding schemes, and the remainder for increasing resilience against future disasters.

Hurricane Sandy caused about 200 deaths and $53billion of damage as it hit coastal communities including New York in October 2012.

9.30am: An interstate bridge has collapsed near Seattle, injuring three people according to local reports.

A portion of the four-lane bridge over the Skagit river in Washington State gave way at about 7pm local time on Thursday evening (3am Friday morning in the UK).

The New York Daily News reported that two vehicles fell into the US river and divers helped three injured people to safety.

“We don’t think anyone else went into the water,” a spokesman for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team is quoted as saying. “At this point we’re optimistic.”

 

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