Bridge checks starting after collapse

Beijing – Engineers have been assigned to check every road bridge in the capital for faults and cracks following a collapse in Huairou district.

The city’s 1,924 crossings will undergo thorough safety inspections, officials at Beijing’s transport commission have pledged.

A 230-meter bridge, said to be one of the longest rigid frame bridges in Beijing, crumbled on Tuesday when a truck carrying 145 tons of sand drove onto it. No casualties were reported.

It was the fourth bridge to collapse in China in a week and the second caused by an overloaded vehicle.

Transport authorities in Huairou were quick to deny speculation that the bridge, built in 1987, had shown cracks before the accident.

Officials said the latest maintenance check in 2006 resulted in repairs being made to minor surface damage and a reinforcement of the structure.

However, official data show that the bridge was designed to hold vehicles weighing a maximum of 55 tons.

The bridge was a popular commuter route between Huairou district and Yanqing county, and the collapse has affected 250 households in four nearby villages.

A new bridge with higher safety standards will be built in three months, the city transport bureau told Beijing News.

The truck driver, identified by authorities only as Zhang, is now in criminal detention and has been fined 50,000 yuan ($7,740). He may still face further punishment.

“Trucks that are overloaded are never allowed to enter the city. They have always been our top target,” Jiang Jing, a Beijing traffic management official, told China Daily.

Since overloaded trucks often travel on routes that avoid national roads, Jiang said they stand a better chance of evading inspection teams.

Villagers told Beijing News that the collapsed bridge is in a gray area when it comes to police checks.

“There have been four or five of them (overloaded trucks) every hour at night these past two months. We did not see anyone interfering,” said a nearby resident quoted by Beijing News.

Source: China Daily

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