Newswise — A West Virginia University engineering expert believes a design fault may be responsible for the collapse of a newly installed pedestrian bridge on Florida International University's campus Thursday (March 15), killing several people.

“I think the fault may be in not accounting for sustained stresses induced by self weight. A bridge carrying its own weight is fine. But in time - even as short as we see here - the strength limits of the bridge can be exceeded.” - Hota GangaRao, Maurice A. and Joann Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

GangaRao, who also serves as the director of WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center and Center for the Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, said because of the bridge’s span length - it is the largest bridge made off site - the self weight effect increases by the square of the length.

“They may not have anticipated such a large stress build up in such a short amount of time.”

GangaRao can be reached at [email protected] or 304.293.9986.

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.