Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
West Gate Bridge
The West Gate Bridge is a large cable-stayed bridge in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It spans the Yarra River, just north of its mouth into Port Phillip, and is a vital link between the inner city and Melbourne's eastern suburbs with the industrial suburbs in the west and with the city of Geelong, 80 km to the south-west.
The main river span is 336 m in length, and the height above the water is 58 metres. The total length of the bridge is 2582 m. It is the second longest in Australia, and is twice as long as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It carries four lanes of traffic in each direction. Cyclists are prohibited from using the bridge except for special bicycle events.
There was a difference in camber of 4.5 inches between two half girders at the west end of the span which needed to be joined. It was proposed that the higher one be weighted down with 8, 10 tonne concrete blocks which were located on site. The weight of these blocks caused the span to buckle, which was a sign of structural failure. The longditinal joining of the half girders was partially complete when orders came through to remove the buckle. As the bolts were removed the bridge snapped back and the span collapsed.
A Royal Commission into the collapse was established, and concluded on July 14 1971. It attributed the failure of the bridge to two causes; the structural design by designers Freeman Fox and Partners and an unusual method of erection by World Services and Construction , the original contractors of the project.
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