Reliability and risk analysis coursework


Structure prostration studies enable us structural applied scientists to avoid similar failures in the hereafter by sketching the causes of the failure and recommendations to forestall them from happening. Lessons are to be learned and besides counsel for improved hereafter patterns. This study is a instance survey of the West Gate Bridge prostration that took topographic point in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1970. A survey of the fortunes environing the failure which was during the hard-on procedure of this span has been undertaken.

Structural System Specification

The span has a length of 2585m in entire. The breadth is 37m which consists of two four lane carriageways. Each carriageway is 17m broad. Both prestressed concrete and steel is used for the deck in this varied span length span.

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The chief span is 336m which is over the Yarra River and the finished tallness above H2O degree is 58 m. The three cardinal spans are supported by overseas telegrams doing it a cable-stayed span. Cables are supported by two pylons besides of steel which have a tallness of 46m above the carriageway. The entire steel construction length is 849m.

The steel deck subdivisions of the span is a hollow box girder subdivision. The box girder consists of internal and external web panels. The rim and web home bases are of the equal length of 16m which are stiffened by welded angles and set home bases. Splices are in both the webs and the rim plates. The bottom rim and the webs have bolted splicings whereas the top rim has a welded splicing.

A sum of 21 stiffened steel home bases were used in the each steel box.

A cardinal facet in the design of the box girder steel deck is that the home base thicknesses have been kept to a lower limit.

Bridge Construction

The first measure to the building procedure is the infrastructure hard-on. This started in April 1968 and took 17 months to finish. The foundation was of 1.53m diameter reinforced concrete cylinders and 2770m octangular steel hemorrhoids. The following measure would be the building of the wharfs. Cantilevered steel signifiers and lifts were used for this. Piers were constructed at the same time instead than separately. The deck building process adopted was the segmental span by span stressing technique. However a sum of 3spans ( in-between spans ) were constructed via the cantilever method. Spans 10-11 and 14-15 ( east side ) were besides erected otherwise where the span was erected on the land but in halves and in full length. The 2 halves after positioning would later on be joined. Particular setup including 650 dozenss establishing trusses, rail mounted bogeies and overhead gauntry canes were used to raise and place the span deck sections.

Bridge Collapse

On the forenoon of 15th October 1970, 11:50 am, two old ages after the get downing day of the month of building, span 10-11 fell a sum of 50 metres during building killing 35 people.

Problems foremost arose during the bolting process of span 14-15 on the northern side. The upper home bases of the box girder were buckled when lifted off the impermanent theatrical production. This evidently led to important compaction instability which was caused by unequal impermanent brace. However the job was overcome by raising the north half span, turn overing it into place so extinguishing a 90mm difference in the camber when it was to be joined to the south half span. The horizontal spread was closed and local buckling was avoided by utilizing long length bolts fixed on stiff beams.

The same job developed for span 10-11 but was unluckily non taken into serious history due to the fact that the issues for span 14-15 had been solved. By this clip ( erection procedure of span 10-11 ) , another contractor, JHC ( John Holland Construction ) , had taken over which was because the original contractors, WSC ( World Services & A ; Construction ) had fallen behind agenda. Nevertheless, WSC continued to build the steel elements whereas JHC were to raise and fall in the steel parts. JHC had a different attack in the connection procedure of the two half spans. Hydraulic knuckleboness were used at each of the intermediate stop for the perpendicular spread and prison guard threaded bars for the horizontal spread. JHC besides proposed seven concrete blocks to forestall warp near the midspan. After this, they undid the bolts in the transverse splicing at the top of the deck. This was done to forestall buckling.

The existent failure was upon the remotion of the bolts. Work started on the twenty-four hours of the prostration at 8:30am. First, major home base slipping occurred when some 16 bolts had been loosened. Then, after the remotion of about 30 bolts, the clasping continued its manner towards the two external home bases of the box girder. Simultaneously, clasping failure occurred at the upper portion of the internal web home bases. This led to the prostration of the span.

Collapse Causes

ARoyal Commissionfor the prostration was set up and generated on 14 July 1971. Royal Committees are commissions established by the premier curate to look into public issues and concerns. Harmonizing to the Royal Commission, both the interior decorators ( Freeman Fox & A ; Partners ) and the contractors ( World Services & A ; Construction ) were considered the major factors to the failure. Causes can besides be classified as direct and indirect. Direct causes are those that straight lead to the prostration of the span whereas indirect causes are defined as those elements in which cause conditions and environments taking onto the specified direct causes. The figure of causes is really legion therefore a sum-up of them are listed and explained below: –

  • The rim home bases were slender therefore longitudinal stiffeners were required to forestall buckling. The splicings to these stiffeners were non designed decently and had deficient particularization. This led to the low strength capacity towards buckling of the rims.
  • The ultimate prostration happened upon the remotion of the bolts but it was concluded that the steel girders had been in a critical province even before the remotion. This was due to the consideration of low safety factors during the hard-on procedure.
  • In order to forestall the camber produced between the two halves of the deck, an wrong process named ‘Kentledge ‘ was adopted. This led to the buckling of the upper rim. To get the better of this as mentioned above, the bolts had to be unfastened.
  • Site applied scientists and directors of both the consulting bureau and the contractors were proven to be inexperienced. This resulted in dramatic decrease in the end product and hence caused hapless judgement and counsel during the hard-on phase.
  • A deficiency of sufficient on-site monitoring during the hard-on procedure of the half box girder spans.

I think one of the most of import causes to the prostration is the switch between contractors midway through the steel hard-on procedure. This evidently causes confusion in the duties and responsibilities of both parties taking to hapless communicating between the confer withing applied scientists, site applied scientists, on site labourers and the contractors.

Failure Prevention

A figure of lessons can be learnt from this major event that occurred in the technology history of Australia. These aid prevent failure in future technology patterns. I have explained a list of these below and are what I think in order of importance: –

  • Equally good as planing the construction for its operation it must besides be designed for its hard-on procedure. This must be assured by the design applied scientists.
  • Appropriate safety factors must be considered for superstructures of high importance. This is due to the complex design and uncertainnesss.
  • Site applied scientists must hold adequate experience and should be to the full informed on the contractual and technology facets of the undertaking.
  • Developing jobs must be dealt with instantly.
  • Duties of each and every one of the applied scientists and staff within the design and consulting bureaus must be clearly specified at the beginning of the undertaking.


As antecedently mentioned, both managerial and design mistakes caused the failure to the West Gate Bridge in Australia. However, larning from the past errors result in more dependable and structurally reliable designs twenty-four hours by twenty-four hours. Bettering the opposition of constructions to failures and besides jeopardies are major issues in todays technology universe.

I would wish to province a few general regulations in the design attack to constructions and superstructures: –

  1. Connections must be designed no weaker than the connection elements and must hold sufficient opposition.
  2. Multiple burden waies should be considered in the design forestalling disproportional prostration.
  3. Structure should be designed and analyzed as a whole every bit good as single component and connexion designs.


  1. Firth, Ian: ‘Lessons from history-the steel box girder narrative ‘ . Presented at the Institution of Structural Engineers, 25 February 2010.
  2. Dr Donald E Charrett, Barrister, Victorian Barroom: ‘Lessons From Failures-West Gate Bridge ‘ .
  3. Brian Coles and Trevor Gourley, Division of Engineering and Science, Ballarat University College: ‘Collapse of the West Gate Bridge- A instance survey for technology pupils ‘ .
  4. Jonathan G M Wood, Structural Studies & A ; Design Ltd: ‘Failures from Hazards, a Short Review ‘ . IABSE Henderson Colloquium Cambridge July 2004.
  5. Web site: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  6. Web site: hypertext transfer protocol: //


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