Highway Accident Report

Adopted: November 20, 1990
COLLAPSE OF THE
HARRISON ROAD BRIDGE SPANS
MIAMITOWN, OHIO
MAY 26, 1989

NTSB Number: HAR-90/03
NTIS Number: PB90-916203


SYNOPSIS

On May 26, 1989, about 5:25 p.m. eastern daylight time, a 140-foot section of the 556-foot Harrison Road temporary bridge over the Great Miami River fell about 40 feet into the rain-swollen river after a pile bent collapsed. Seven witnesses reported that a passenger car and a pickup truck fell into the river. However, only a 'bodies of the car's two occupants have been recovered from passenger car and the the river. No other vehicles were found in the river nor are any persons reported missing in the Miamitown area. Witnesses reported an unusual amount of debris floating down the river and striking the pile bents of the bridge prior to the collapse. Although the weather was clear and dry, flooding conditions existed at the time of the collapse and the river had overflowed its bans onto the flood plain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the temporary bridge collapse was the selection by the Hamilton County Engineer's Office of a design by the National Engineering and Contracting Company that did not consider lateral loads and the failure of the Hamilton County Engineer's Office to promptly close the bridge when it became subject to significant debris loading. Contributing to the cause of the collapse was the failure of the Hamilton County Engineer's Office to submit the bridge design plans to the Ohio Department of Transportation for review as required by State law.

The primary safety issues raised by this accident are the adequacy of the temporary bridge design, the adequacy of procedures for closing temporary and permanent bridges under conditions that exceed bridge design criteria, and the adequacy of current design guidelines and specifications for highway bridges, particularly for debris loading.

Safety recommendations addressing these issues were made to the Hamilton County Engineer's Office, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the Hamilton County Engineer's Office:

Require that bridge design capacities be determined and establish policies and procedures for monitoring and closing public highway bridges when conditions exceed the design capacity of the structure. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-98)

to the Ohio Department of Transportation:

Require that bridge design capacities be determined and establish policies and procedures to close bridge structures when conditions exceed the design capacity of the structure. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-99)

Clarify the lateral load requirements for temporary bridges in the Ohio "Construction and Materials Specifications." (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-100)

Disseminate the facts and circumstances of this accident to each county and municipal engineer responsible for bridge design and construction in the State of Ohio. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-101)

Develop and implement procedures to ensure enforcement and monitoring of the Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code, Section 5543) that states:

No contract for the construction or repair of a bridge, the entire cost of which construction or repair exceeds fifty thousand dollars, shall be entered into by the county unless the plans are first approved by the State Director of Transportation. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-102)

to the Federal Highway Administration:

Undertake a research program in cooperation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the U.S. Geological Survey to develop methods for estimating maximum debris loads for bridge design purposes. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-103)

Establish, in cooperation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, standard analytical methods to determine loads imposed by debris, impact and by debris accumulation on bridge substructures. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-104)

Encourage the States to determine bridge design capacities and to establish policies and procedures to close bridges when conditions exceed the design capacity. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-105)

Encourage all States to require the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials loading specifications as minimum design criteria for all bridges open to the public. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-106)

to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

Cooperate with the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey in a research program to develop methods to estimate maximum debris loads for bridge design purposes. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-107)

Cooperate with the Federal Highway Administration in establishing standard analytical methods to determine loads imposed by debris impact and by debris accumulation on bridge substructures. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-108)

Following the development of debris loading design methodologies, include detailed criteria for calculating the maximum expected debris loads and stresses in the "Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges." (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-109)

to the U.S. Geological Survey:

Cooperate with the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in a research program to develop methods to estimate maximum debris loads for bridge design purposes. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-90-1 10)