Cracks raise fears of bridge collapse

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, August 1, 2011
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Officials are spending more than 60 million yuan (US$9.32 million) to repair a bridge over the Yangtze River in east China after pictures were posted online showing cracks on the 15-year-old structure, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

The bridge was built by the Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group, a company that has been dubbed the "collapsed bridge company" because three bridges it built have collapsed since 2007.

An under-construction bridge in Fenghuang County, Hunan Province, collapsed on August 15, 2007, killing 64 people and injuring 22 others. And part of the Jiujiang Bridge in Guangdong Province fell into a river on June 15 the same year after a barge collided with it, leaving nine people dead. Both were built by the Hunan company.

People posting pictures of cracks on the 2,500-meter-long Tongling Bridge in Anhui Province said they were worried about its safety after a third bridge, the Qiantang River No. 3 Bridge in Zhejiang Province, collapsed on July 15.

A truck driver was injured in the incident.

Yan Zhigang, director of the Tongling Bridge management department told Xinhua that the bridge did have quality problems as had been exposed by people online and even more were found after an overall inspection.

Yan said some of the problems could be blamed on the quality of the construction but many others were because the bridge had been in use for many years. Construction was completed in 1995 at a cost of 600 million yuan and some 8,000 vehicles a day had been using it, he said.

Yan said safety could be ensured on the bridge after the renovation work is completed later this month.

More than two thirds of the bridge have been renovated and there are no longer any cracks to be seen.

The bridge could be safely used for at least another 50 years after the renovation work, said Wang Guomin, chief engineer with the bridge management department.

He said the bridge operator had spent another 6.75 million yuan to install a monitoring system on the bridge quality.

Another expert said bridge design and construction standards of China were rather low 15 years ago.

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