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A catastrophic brittle fracture occurred in a welded steel (ASTM A517 grade H) trapezoidal cross-section box girder while the concrete deck of a large bridge was being poured. The failure occurred across the full width of a 57 mm (214 in.) thick, 760 mm (30 in.) wide flange and arrested 100 mm (4 in.) down the slant web. Failure analysis revealed a major deficiency in fracture toughness. The failure occurred as a brittle fracture after the formation of a welding hot crack and approximately 40 mm (112 in.) of slow crack growth. It was recommended that bridges fabricated from this grade of steel undergo frequent inspection and that stringent test requirements be imposed as a condition of use in non-redundant main load-carrying components.

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