21st C engineering failures

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21st C engineering failures

Post by KevinD » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:00 am

The more we progress, the farther behind we get.

Here are some views of a bridge replacement on the B&O in the Youngstown OH area. The spot is just west of the Center St diamond crossing of the ex-PRR Youngstown Line and just west of the old PLE Gateway yard area.

The old through truss bridge was a 3 span built with a slight curve, and also built on a skew on account of the direction of the water flow of the river.
The new replacement is a 4 span deck plate design built on the inside of the old curved bridge and thus is straight. It was also built without a skew.
Naturally, the lack of a skew combined with a pier smack dab in the middle of the river has resulted in an excessive amount of river debris collection against the river pier. From the looks of things, there is some older debris along with some fresh debris.
This is what you get when you eliminate in-house engineering and go with the low bidder process. In-house engineering used to design things that were long-term beneficial to the railroad over the life of the object. What external engineering company bidding on the project is going to propose a skewed bridge if it means a higher bid and losing the contract to a competitor? The cheapest design was short girders straight across, and that is what CSX got. But what happens when the next hurricane remnant rolls over eastern Ohio and the flooding is exacerbated by the lack of swift river runoff because of these low-bid "human beaver dams"? You can pay more for a correct design now, or you can pay more over a lifetime plucking the collected debris out of the river - after a natural disaster finds the railroad "at fault".
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