The I-40 Bridge Collapse occurred just southeast Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, at 7:45 am on the morning of May 26, 2002. The 2,000-foot suspension bridge, which spans the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River, suffered a 580-foot portion collapse when a barge traveling upstream collided with one its piers. The incident resulted in more than a dozen fatalities and eleven additional injuries as eight passenger vehicles and three semi-trucks were caused to fall into the river or on collapsed pieces of bridge. It ultimately determined that the captain of the tugboat that was hauling the barge across the water had lost consciousness, causing the tragic collision with the pier. McLaren Engineering Group’s forensic division was retained by the Magnolia Marine Transport Company to evaluate the structural condition of the bridge as well as to assess the damage from the I-40 Bridge Collapse.
McLaren Engineering Group mobilized to the scene within days of the accident, sending several teams of forensic engineers and PE divers to perform underwater and topside inspections of the collision site. The team collected valuable data for use in evaluating the accident as part of a full forensic investigation associated with pending litigation. McLaren was responsible for investigation of the bridge failure, including oversight of procedures, preparation of documents summarizing the events, and assessing the root cause of the collapse. A sophisticated non-linear pushover analysis was performed using several software packages to model and reconstruct the specific details surrounding the collision. The results of the forensic investigation into the I-40 bridge collapse were able to be visually reconstructed by McLaren’s in-house demonstrative evidence specialists. The visualizations and accident reconstruction video (featured below) of the I-40 bridge collapse provided an in-depth look at the events that unfolded before and after the barge collided with the pier.