A large crack developed at a girder-truss joint area of the Fremont bridge in Portland, OR, on 28 Oct 1971. It occurred during a positioning procedure involving a junction piece welded to a girder, starting as a brittle fracture and terminating in plastic hinges in the girder web welds. The arch rib top plate, as it met the main girder, formed a composite beam of A588/A36 composition. Investigation showed the original design of the failed component called for an angle of high geometric stress concentration (90 deg with no radius) in a region of substantial transverse weld joints. While the material met chemical and mechanical property requirements, tests showed it had low fracture toughness and critical-sized flaws oriented normal to the principal stress in the failed junction piece. Fabrication procedures resulted in high residual stresses and a metallurgical notch at the radius in the junction piece. Stresses induced during jacking (the procedure used to raise bridge components into position) applied the stresses in the critical radius that triggered the cracking.
Harry Czyzewski, Brittle Fracture Leading to Failure of a Bridge Section, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Buildings, Bridges, and Infrastructure, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.bldgs.c9001544
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