North Raleigh News

One killed, four injured after bridge collapses at Wake Tech construction site

A worker leaves the scene after a pedestrian bridge, background, under construction collapsed, killing one worker and injuring four others at Wake Tech's Northern Wake Campus in Raleigh around 10:15 a.m. The bridge spans 240 feet. The 140 foot center section collapsed.
A worker leaves the scene after a pedestrian bridge, background, under construction collapsed, killing one worker and injuring four others at Wake Tech's Northern Wake Campus in Raleigh around 10:15 a.m. The bridge spans 240 feet. The 140 foot center section collapsed. clowenst@newsobserver.com

The state Department of Labor will try to determine what caused an unfinished pedestrian bridge to collapse at a Wake Technical Community College campus on Thursday morning, killing one worker and injuring four others.

The accident happened about 10:15 a.m. as workers were pouring concrete for the bridge at Wake Tech’s northern campus off Louisburg Road, officials said.

“We will look at what caused the collapse and whether there were any violations” of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, said labor department spokesman Neal O’Briant.

The injuries were considered serious enough that the workers were taken to the trauma center at WakeMed Raleigh, said Jeff Hammerstein, spokesman for Wake County EMS. The names of the workers will be made public after their families have been notified, said Pamela Monastra, spokeswoman for Skanska Construction, the general contractor on the project.

Hammerstein said it was too soon to know what caused the collapse. The workers were pouring concrete for the bridge when it gave way, said Allen Jones, senior vice president for Skanska Construction.

The sub-contractor doing the concrete work is Central Concrete of North Carolina, based in Raleigh.

The concrete bridge crosses a ravine and will connect a new library with a parking deck, both of which are under construction, said Wake Tech spokeswoman Laurie Clowers.

About a 140-foot section of the bridge fell as much as 40 feet.

“It collapsed all the way down to the ground,” said Jonathan Olson, chief of operations for Wake County EMS.

None of the workers was trapped under the bridge, Olson said.

Classes went on as scheduled Thursday, though the Wake Tech warned students they might have difficulty getting around campus.

The bridge was one of two being built as part of a campus expansion that includes an 87,000-square-foot instructional building and a 782-space parking deck. The $47.5 million project has a target completion date of fall 2015.

Skanska is a global construction company that has a generally good safety record in North Carolina, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration records. Skanska USA, under names that have varied slightly over the years, was cited for violations on a Duke University project in March 2007 and a building in Greenville in 2005, but most of the citations were dismissed.

On the Duke project, inspectors cited Skanska for not having proper worker protection on some moving machinery parts, and they told Skanska that there was a wiring problem on the job site. The citation was dismissed on appeal, and the wiring issue was not a violation, records show.

In Greenville, inspectors conducting a planned inspection cited 19 violations, the majority involving protecting workers from falls and three about how equipment was rigged for moving materials. The company paid a $2,500 fine for a violation related to worker safety training, and the other 18 citations were dismissed.

O’Briant said the labor department investigation will take three to four months to complete.

  Comments