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Expert: Cracks Not Cause of Accident on Ohio Bridge Project

Sat March 27, 2004 - Midwest Edition

TOLEDO, OH (AP) Cracks found in some of the steel being examined by engineers did not cause last month’s deadly construction crane collapse, an expert said.

A 1,000-ton (907 t) crane collapsed Feb. 16 while putting together the roadway on a new Interstate 280 bridge. Four workers were killed and four injured. The crane stretched above the bridge’s pillars and lifted concrete sections of the roadway into place.

Investigators sent large pieces of the wreckage to a laboratory at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, which specializes in testing the integrity of steel structures. The lab is trying to determine if a failure in the steel itself caused the collapse or if the steel broke after the collapse was under way.

John Fisher, an engineering professor at Lehigh, said engineers have determined that fractures discovered in steel parts at the top of the crane were not the cause of the accident.

However, Fisher said the finding does not mean that steel failure has been totally ruled out. He said several more samples of the steel will be studied.

The northbound lanes of I-280 reopened on Mar. 12 approximately two hours after the last piece of wreckage was removed. The southbound lanes of I-280 reopened three days after the collapse.