Hatchie River and Schoharie Creek Bridge Failures

by Lawrence E. Jackson, NTSB, Washington, United States,
Philip L. Thompson, NTSB, Washington, United States,
E. V. Richardson, NTSB, Washington, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


Within a 2-year period two large bridges collapsed into flooded rivers resulting in a total of 18 people plunging to their deaths. Both bridges had been inspected by probing, but had not been inspected by divers. During the inspections, recommendations had been made for maintenance that would have prevented collapse or have prolonged the life of the bridge, but that maintenance was deferred. The Schoharie Creek bridge near Amsterdam, New York collapsed after local scour undermined the spread footing, and the Hatchie River bridge near Covington, Tennessee, collapsed after channel migration exposed the footing and a portion of the friction piles. Both the local scour and the migration resulted from the cumulative action of numerous floods. As a result of its investigation of these collapses, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the States of Tennessee and New York. The FHWA issued a technical advisory on scour with recommendations for its prevention. These FHWA and NTSB recommendations have supported a renewed interest in scour research and have caused changes in the national programs.

Subject Headings: Bridge failures | Rivers and streams | Failure analysis | Scour | Federal government | Bridge foundations | Floods | Bridges | United States | Netherlands | Europe | New York | Tennessee

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