Wednesday, April 5, 2017

State reviewing procedures after fiery Atlanta bridge collapse

Interviewed for Hawaii News Now story on State reviewing procedures after fiery Atlanta bridge collapse by Allison Blair.
  • "The hodgepodge of activity that we have under the freeway overpass, it's not appropriate," said Panos Prevedouros, Chairman of the U.H. Civil Engineering Department
  • Prevedouros says the combination of trash, vehicles, tires and tanks could be disastrous if fire broke out.
  • In 2016, firefighters responded to seven rubbish fires in the area. Fire department officials say all were small, with no damage or serious injuries reported. 
  • "It takes a really long time. A five minute fire cannot bring a bridge down," said Prevedouros.
  • But a fire burning at an extremely high temperature, for an extended period of time, can weaken the metal rebar that supports the concrete and cause a collapse. Prevedouros says its rare, but it's also why you shouldn't store a lot of combustible material underneath the viaduct.
  • Hawaii News Now asked Prevedouros if what happened in Atlanta could happen here, with the viaduct in its current state. Prevedouros said "potentially."
  • The fire department doesn't inspect state property, but said it would provide recommendations to the Department of Transportation if it was asked to.
  • Transportation department officials declined to be interviewed for this story but said bridge inspections happen every two years, and that inspectors will be reminded to check for combustible materials.