4 Most Devastating Bridge Collapses in Arizona

There are almost 8,000 bridges in Arizona. Regretfully, about 400 of them are considered to be in bad structural condition. Many of these bridges sustain the weight and strain of thousands of crossings every day in spite of their terrible conditions.

Naturally, some people experience a mysterious anxiety known as “gephyrophobia” that prevents them from crossing bridges. When commuting to work, school, or other essential locations, they might opt for routes devoid of bridges. Maybe this fear is brought on by the bridge’s height. They may also reroute because they lose control while “stuck” on the bridge until the crossing is completed.

Bridge crossings should be avoided, too, if you’ve seen the aftermath of any of the sad U.S. bridge failures on the news. Arizona is among the many states in the United States that have seen tragic bridge failures. Continue reading to learn about the four most catastrophic bridge collapses that Arizona has ever seen.

1. The collapse of the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad Bridge in 1902

The Santa Fe Bridge was the previous name of the Maricopa and Phoenix Railroad Bridge. Trains used to cross this bridge to go from one side of the Salt River to the other in the late 1800s and early 1900s. On October 29, nevertheless, one train was unable to cross.

That day, two spans abruptly collapsed as a locomotive was pulling three freight trains, two coach cars, and a first-class Pullman car across the bridge. The freight cars and locomotive fell into the river below, and the Pullman dangled teetering above the broken bridge. Interestingly, the catastrophe claimed the lives of only one man and four animals. One man, Frank Goodrich, further sustained injuries that resulted in the amputation of his limb.

It’s possible that earlier floods undermined and destroyed the piers holding up the collapsed spans. As a result, the crumbling bridge in 1905 was replaced with a steel bridge. The bridge had additional improvements in 1912. The bridge still stands today, although regrettably, several of its components are in bad shape.

2. The 2007 collapse of Mesa Bridge

At its most susceptible point during construction, a 114-foot segment of the Mesa bridge fell on August 9, 2007, beside Loop 202’s Red Mountain Freeway. The six lanes of traffic that cross this section continued to cause concern, even though officials at the time believed the problem was more likely the result of construction than a structural failure.

Two males, who were construction workers, were trapped beneath the rubble that was caused by the fall. Even though one of the soldiers had severe injuries, he lived. The second man’s wounds caused him to pass away. Unfortunately, the collapse would not have occurred in the first place if the redundant design of the concrete pillars, which surround the tightly stretched cables intended to hold the bridge, had been in place.

3. 2015’s I-10 Tex Wash Bridge Collapse

After the area was inundated with seven inches of rain, the Tex Wash Bridge, which connects California and Arizona along Interstate 10, collapsed. There were other problems in addition to the heavy rain, which had a major role in the collapse.

After examining the collapse of the bridge, engineering specialists determined that the bridge had at least four design problems. When the bridge was constructed in 1967, the engineering was subpar. The study has the following flaws:

For the broad Tex Wash, the bridge was too short.
There were weak foundations at both ends of the span. And beneath them, they had no piles for support.
The wash had been narrowed by the original engineers. This put stress on the eastern side of the bridge by forcing the water flow into a bent direction.
Retaining walls, which divert water inward and stop erosion, were absent.

A truck driver crashed into the open area after a span washed away by the bridge collapse on July 19, 2015. He suffered serious injuries. Furthermore, thousands of other drivers were halted and left trapped by the crumbled piece, measuring 30 by 50 feet. Travelers between the two states were compelled to take detours lasting up to seven and a half hours or more between Phoenix and California.

4. The 2020 collapse of the Tempe Town Lake Bridge

A Union Pacific Railroad freight train traveling west crossed the Tempe Town Lake Bridge on July 29, 2020, when it derailed and caught fire. The train derailed, which ultimately caused multiple automobiles to collide with the bridge and cause a portion of it to collapse.

Unfortunately, another train derailed a few weeks before July 29th. When the second derailment occurred, the guardrail had not been restored after it had been removed by the train company for repair.

Subsequent analysis of the tracks by experts revealed severe damage and stress to the collapsed section. They also discovered a missing guardrail at the start of the bridge and inadequate railroad ties on both sides of the track. If the rails had been properly maintained, the collapse might have been avoided.