George Washington, Verrazzano bridges are vulnerable to same domino-effect collapse as Baltimore’s Key Bridge: new analysis


New York’s George Washington and Verrazzano-Narrows bridges are vulnerable to the same domino-effect catastrophic collapse that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, a new analysis warns.

Officials had previously found that the Key Bridge was designed in such a way that if even a single steel component of the span failed, the entire structure could fail.

Indeed, when the massive Dali container ship struck one of the vertical supports last week, the whole 1.6-miles bridge crumbled into the Patapsco River.

At least 17,000 structures in the US have “fracture critical” construction like the Key Bridge did — among them some of the nation’s largest and most famous bridges, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the Natation Transportation Safety Board.

The Journal singled out eight bridges that have similar characteristics to the Key Bridge — including the two New York landmarks.

Also on the list: the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge — which, like the Key Bridge, is a major connector in the greater Baltimore and Washington, DC area.

Baltimore’s key bridge was among the more than 17,000 “fracture critical” structures in the US. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

According to the NTSB, the “fracture critical” design does not make these bridges unsafe, but it means they lack redundancy in their load-bearing designs.

“People were surprised that the far side of the bridge fell,” Charles Carter, an engineer and president of the American Institute of Steel Construction, told the Journal.

“Because they all worked together, that was, unfortunately, inevitable.”

The George Washington Bridge linking New York to New Jersey is one bridge that could suffer a catastrophic collapse if a single steel component tension should fail. Getty Images
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is another “fracture critical” structure. Getty Images

Unlike the Key Bridge, New York’s George Washington and Verrazano-Narrows bridges, however, are suspension bridges, with support towers much closer to shore — making collision with an out-of-control cargo ship less likely.

Everything you need to know about the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s collapse in Baltimore

  • The Dali, the Singapore-flagged container ship that smashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore and destroyed it early Tuesday, reportedly lost propulsion and tried to warn officials that it was going to crash, according to a report.
  • Six people were unaccounted for, according to authorities. Two people were pulled from the river by rescuers.
  • Seven vehicles were missing after falling from the 1.6-mile-long span. Officials are using sonar technology to find the vehicles.
  • Videos show power on the ship flickering off, and then on again, shortly before the crash. Watch footage of the bridge’s collapse here.
  • A Baltimore resident described how the horrifying collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday caused his entire house to feel like it was falling down.
  • The Dali was also involved in a collision while leaving the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016.
The ship’s path before the collision into Baltimore’s Key Bridge.

Follow along with The Post’s coverage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.

New York officials assured the public last week that the 14 bridges across the five boroughs are closely monitored and have the proper precautions in place to avoid the tragedy in Baltimore, where six construction workers are presumed dead.

Officials are working to clear the debris around the Dali cargo ship to reopen the Port of Baltimore. Getty Images

“Fracture critical” bridges are notably required to be flagged in inspection records and undergo special probes over its steel components, sometimes as often as every year, the WSJ reports.

The NTSB’s inspection over the Key Bridge collapse is ongoing, with a preliminary report expected to be released in the coming weeks. A full report on the incident may take as long as two years, officials said.

The bridge had previously passed inspections, and officials say no bridge in the US is designed to withstand a direct hit from a 95,000-ton container ship like the Dali.

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