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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-90-059
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 8:15 P.M. CENTRAL STANDARD TIME, APRIL 1, 1989, AN 85. 5-FOOT SECTION OF THE 4,201-FOOT-LONG NORTHBOUND U.S. ROUTE 51 BRIDGE OVER THE HATCHIE RIVER FELL ABOUT 20 FEET INTO THE 24-FOOT-DEEP RAIN-SWOLLEN RIVER AFTER TWO PILE-SUPPORTED COLUMN BENTS SUPPORTING THREE BRIDGE SPANS COLLAPSED. WITNESS REPORTS AND PHYSICAL EVIDENCE INDICATE THAT THE SOUTHERN COLUMN BENT (70) AND THE TWO SPANS THAT IT SUPPORTED FELL QUICKLY, CAUSING FOUR PASSENGER CARS AND ONE TRACTOR-SEMITRAILER TO PLUNGE INTO THE RIVER. THE ADJACENT COLUMN BENT (71) AND THE SPAN THAT IT WAS SUPPORTING THEN COLLAPSED ON TOP OF THE VEHICLES. THE RIVER HAD APPARENTLY BEEN AT FLOOD STAGE SINCE NOVEMBER 1988. ALL EIGHT VEHICLE OCCUPANTS DIED AS A RESULT OF THE COLLAPSE. (COVINGTON, TENNESSEE)
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: REQUIRE STATES TO DEVELOP A CRUCIAL ELEMENT CHECKLIST FOR EACH BRIDGE BASED ON THE BRIDGE DESIGN AND AS-BUILT PLANS OR AVAILABLE BRIDGE DATA. THE LIST SHOULD IDENTIFY BRIDGE ELEMENTS OR CONDITIONS THAT WHEN DAMAGED, EXPOSED, CORRODED, OR DEFORMED WOULD INDEPENDENTLY CAUSE A SUDDEN UNEXPECTED COLLAPSE OF A SECTION OF THE BRIDGE. THIS LIST SHOULD THEN BECOME PART OF EACH BRIDGE INSPECTION REPORT. FURTHER, REQUIRE THE STATES TO IMMEDIATELY CLOSE THE BRIDGE OR PERFORM NEEDED REPAIRS WHEN AN INSPECTOR DISCOVERS THE DETERIORATION OF A BRIDGE ELEMENT CONTAINED IN THE CRUCIAL ELEMENT CHECKLIST.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Covington, TN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA89MH006
Accident Reports: Collapse of the Northbound U.S. Route 51 Bridge Spans over the Hatchie River
Report #: HAR-90-01
Accident Date: 4/1/1989
Issue Date: 7/24/1990
Date Closed: 9/23/1993
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 9/23/1993
Response: THE BOARD HAS REVIEWED THE AASHTO MANUAL FOR THE CONDITION EVALUATION OF BRIDGES AND THE FHWA BRIDGE INSPECTOR'S TRAINING MANUAL/90. BOTH OF THESE DOCUMENTS CONTAIN SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON THE INSPECTION AND EVALUATION OF FRACTURE CRITICAL BRIDGE MEMBERS. THE BOARD COMMENDS THE FHWA FOR ESTABLISHING WRITTEN PROCEDURES FOR FOLLOW-UP INSPECTIONS ON CRITICAL BRIDGE MEMBERS AND WORKING WITH THE STATES TO SUBMIT WRITTEN NOTIFICATION OF CRITICAL FINDINGS. BASED ON THIS INFORMATION, RECOMMENDATION H-90-59 HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION."

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/11/1993
Response: THE JUNE 10, 1992, LETTER FROM THE NTSB ADVISED THAT RESOLUTION OF THIS RECOMMENDATION COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED BY AN NTBS REVIEW OF THE AASHTO MANUAL FOR THE CONDITION EVALUATION OF BRIDGES TO DETERMINE IF IT HAS LANGUAGE THAT MEETS THE INTENT OF THIS RECOMMENDATION. THE AASHTO MANUAL HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR PRINTING BY THE AASHTO ORGANIZATION, AND A COPY OF THE FINAL HAS BEEN FURNISHED TO THE NTSB.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/31/1991
Response: IT IS NOT PRACTICAL FOR ALL 578,000 BRIDGES IN THE NBI TO HAVE CRUCIAL ELEMENT CHECKLIST. MORE THAN HALF OF THESE MIGHT BE CLASSIFIED AS MINOR BECAUSE THEY ARE SIMPLE SPAN BRIDGES WITH SPANS OF LESS THAN 50 FEET. STATES ARE NOW REQUIRED TO HAVE BRIDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS. THESE SYSTEMS WILL CONTAIN MORE DETAILED INFORMATION OF CONDITION RATINGS AND ASSOCIATED ACTIONS ON STRUCTURAL MEMBERS AND SYSTEMS.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 10/22/1991
Response: Safety Recommendation H-90-59 requested the FHWA to require States to develop a crucial element checklist for each bridge based on the bridge and as-built plans or available bridge data. elements. The list should identify bridge that when damaged, exposed, corroded, or deformed would independently cause a sudden unexpected collapse of a bridge section. This list should be made part of each bridge inspection report. Further, the States should be required to immediately close the bridge or to perform needed repairs when an inspector discovers the deterioration of the bridge element contained in the crucial element checklist. Although the NBIS currently requires States to identify fracture-critical bridges, the U.S. 51 bridge was not on the TDOT's fracture-critical list and therefore it's vulnerability to scour was not evaluated. The Safety Board notes that bridge management systems, which soon will be mandatory for the States, will require that more detailed information be kept on structural members or systems regarding condition ratings anld actions associated with them. The Safety Board is concerned that information gathered as a result of mandatory bridge management systems will be used primarily for overall economic assessments, safety deficiencies, and not for identifying bridge The Safety Board agrees with the FHWA that a crucial element checklist may not be applicable to some bridges, especially those already covered by the fracture-critical inspection procedures. However, the goal is to ensure that those bridges that have the potential for catastrophic failure are identified and that action is taken to close or repair them. Therefore, pending the results of the FHWA's assessment of bridge inspection report evaluators who identify bridge safety deficiencie.s, Safety Recommendation H-90-59 has been classified as "Open--Acceptable Response."

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/28/1990
Response: IT IS NOT PRACTICAL FOR ALL 578,000 BRIDGES IN THE NBI TO HAVE CRUCIAL ELEMENT CHECKLISTS. THE CURRENT NBIS REQUIRE THE STATES TO IDENTIFY BRIDGES WITH FRACTURE CRITICAL MEMBERS & ESTABLISH INSPECTION PROCEDURES FOR THESE MEMBERS & SPECIFY INSPECTION INTERVALS. THE FHWA HAS ESTABLISHED A PROGRAM FOR ANNUALLY MONITORING THE STATES' CONFORMANCE WITH THE NBIS. BRIDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, SOON TO BE REQUIRED OF THE STATES, WILL REQUIRE MORE DETAILED INFORMATION TO BE KEPT ON STRUCTURAL MEMBERS OR SYSTEMS REGARDING CONDITION RATINGS & ACTION ASSOCIATED WITH THEM.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 6/10/1990
Response: Safety Recommendation H-90-59 asked the FHWA to require States to develop a crucial element checklist for each bridge based on the bridge design and as-built plans or available bridge data. The list should identify bridge elements or conditions that when damaged, exposed, corroded, or deformed would independently cause a sudden unexpected collapse of a section of the bridge. This list should then become part of each bridge inspection report. The recommendation also asked the FHWA to require the States to immediately close the bridge or perform needed repairs when an inspector discovers the deterioration of the bridge element contained in the crucial element checklist. The Safety Board notes the FHWA's on-going efforts with regard to the safety of fracture critical bridges. We understand that it would not be practical for all 578,000 bridges in the NBI to have crucial element checklists. The current NBIS does require the States to identify bridges with fracture-critical members (steel structures only) and establish inspection procedures for these members and specify inspection intervals. The evaluation and inspection of crucial elements of highway bridges have been presented to the States through comprehensive bridge inspector training courses. Furthermore, the FHWA has established a program for annually monitoring the States' conformance with the NBIS. In regard to the establishment of bridge management systems, the Safety Board is still concerned that information gathered as a result of mandatory bridge management systems will be used primarily for overall economic assessments, and not for identifying bridge safety deficiencies. As stated in our previous correspondence, the U.S. 51 bridge was not on the Tennessee Department of Transportation's fracture-critical list and, therefore, its vulnerability was not evaluated. Since it is possible that the AASHTO manual for maintenance Inspection of Bridges may have language that will meet the intent of this recommendation, we will continue to hold it in an "Open--Acceptable Response" status pending our review of the AASHTO manual.