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US bridge bash prompts pier study

ENGINEERS IN Oklahoma have launched a full appraisal of bridge pier protection following the fatal bridge bash in May.

A section of the I40 bridge collapsed after a barge struck unprotected piers outside the main shipping lane. The bridge's only protection was on the upstream side of the piers next to the shipping lane.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODT) bridge manager Tim West said: 'A full report is being undertaken to evaluate the risk from errant barges.'

US contractor Gilbert Central Corporation won the 120 day, US$11M repair contract after an emergency Oklahoma Transport Commission meeting.

First task to remove the 35m deck section still propped by the barges onto which it fell, and replace it.

Replacement piled foundations will have to be driven outside the remains of the existing structure. These new piers will again be twin columns rather than the full width piers supporting the rest of the structure. No extra protection against barge collision will be added.

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