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Silver Bridge Collapse

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on April 16, 2008 at 8:34:46 pm

 Silver Bridge Collapse

Page editor Jessica LaRoque


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Also referred to as the Point Pleasant Bridge.  The Silver Bridge connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia with Kanauga, Ohio across the Ohio River.  At 5:00 PM, December 15, 1967, the bridge suddenly collapsed.  In one minute the 700 foot center span, the two 380 foot side spans, and the support towers all collapsed.  Of 37 vehicles on the bridge at the time of the collapse, 31 fell resulting in 46 fatalities and 9 injuries.


The Silver Bridge was an eyebar suspension bridge, an unusual bridge design.  After the collapse, a major design flaw was found: lack of redundancy.  Each piece of the bridge was intricately linked to the others and the failure of one component then resulted in the failure of the whole bridge.  The cause of the collapse was found to be a cleavage fracture in the lower limb of an eyebar, causing the separation of the eyebar from its chain, allowing the sister eyebar to slide off.  Failure at this eyebar caused the failure of the entire structure.  The collapse resulted in the development of a national bridge inspection and replacement program.


Contributing Causes


  • There was a design flaw causing very high tensie stresses (pulling causing elongation) within the eyebar.
  • Stress corrosion and corrosion fatigue were not understood well at the time of construction.
  • The location of the flaw was not accessible by visual inspection.
  • The flaw was undetectable with any method at that time without disasembling the joint.




  • President Johnson creates a task force on bridge safety.
  • In 1968 Congress passes National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS).
  • New inspections find cracking in steel plate girders.






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