I-40 Bridge Collapse

The infamous I-40 Bridge collapse occurred just southeast of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, at 7:45 am on the morning of May 26, 2002.

A 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 of its piers.

Collision + Collapse

The collapse occurred when towboat transporting barges on the Arkansas River was traversing the Robert D. Kerr Reservoir. The Captain of the towboat experienced a sudden loss of consciousness and lost control of his vessel. This, in turn, caused the barge he was towing to collide with a pier of the I-40 Bridge.

As a result, a 580-foot section of the bridge collapsed into the water. 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.

McLaren’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.

The McLaren Difference

Our team 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. 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.

2004 Accident Reconstruction Video

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 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.