DELAYS Investigation of launching truss collapse has halted main span work since February.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its investigation into the Feb. 16 accident on July 30, two weeks early. It cited Fru-Con Construction Corp., Ballwin, Mo., for four willful violations of federal workplace standards. "This tragic accident could have and should have been prevented," says OSHA Administrator John Henshaw.

The collapse of the $3-million, 2-million-lb, 315-ft-long truss, which was not carrying a segment when it fell, has halted work on the 1,225-ft main span of the Interstate 280 precast segmental cable-stayed crossing (ENR 6/21 p. 15).

The report cites Fru-Con four times for improperly anchoring to pier caps the front legs and the roller beam for the back legs of both the launching truss that collapsed and its twin, which has been idle since the accident. Manufacturer’s instructions state the legs should be anchored with threaded bars, each prestressed to 135,000 lb. The first two violations are dated Feb. 2 and the second two Feb. 16, the day of the accident.

CONTRAST Launching truss (front) waits while ramp truss works on.

"Our role is not to report on causation," says OSHA spokesman Brad Mitchell, declining to specify "improper" use. Local reports claim it has to do with modified use of bolts.


Fru-Con has until mid-August to appeal but hopes for an informal resolution through planned meetings with OSHA, says Edward F. Neumann, vice president of Fru-Con’s civil business unit. "We were surprised by the citations directed at Fru-Con being termed ‘willful’ since all of our procedures were established under the watchful eye of the manufacturer Paolo de Nicola," he says. "At no time did any of our employees engage in any conduct that knowingly placed any other employees at risk."

The Italian manufacturer and its attorney were unavailable for comment.

Fru-Con hopes to resume using the second truss. It hired Northbrook, Ill.-based Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. to inspect the twin and recommend maintenance and safety enhancements. Lehigh University engineers inspected steel pieces of the broken truss but found no evidence of cracks or fatigue, says ODOT spokesman Joe Rutherford.

Work continues where possible. Fru-Con is 80% complete with casting of 3,057 segments and has completed 143 of 181 piers. Two precast approach ramps are complete and the ramp truss will be moved to build two more. The schedule could be pushed from 2006 to late 2007 or 2008, Rutherford says.

(Images courtesy of Ohio DOT)

contractor building the $220-million Maumee River Bridge in Toledo, Ohio, faces $280,000 in proposed fines for allegedly failing to properly secure a launching truss that collapsed and killed four workers.