Emergency protocols in case of bridge collapse sought

Emergency protocols in case of bridge collapse sought
Emergency protocols in case of bridge collapse soughtPhoto by Yans Baroy

FOLLOWING the collapse of a bridge in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States after it was hit by a ship, a local legislator has urged government agencies, as well as the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC), to undertake precautionary measures to prevent a similar disaster.

Cebu City Councilor Rey Gealon, who also chairs the traffic management and coordination committee, said he will request Mayor Michael Rama to convene a multi-agency task force consisting of CCLEC, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, Philippine Ports Authority, and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, among others, to craft guidelines and establish a protocol for adequate emergency response to a disaster similar to what happened in Baltimore.

On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, a cargo ship lost power and rammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to collapse in seconds. Six individuals are reportedly missing and presumed dead.

Gealon urged CCLEC to undertake precautionary measures to avoid a disaster like the one in Baltimore, considering numerous container vessels traverse the Cebu harbor and under the bridge.

He said he will formally file these measures through a resolution before the City Council in their next regular session.

Design of CCLEX

CCLEC, in a statement to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, March 27, assured the public that Cebu’s third bridge linking the Cebu mainland to Mactan Island, underwent several studies, including a vessel collision analysis, to ensure that it is “safe and structurally stable” considering that it is above the busy Mactan Channel.

It said the design of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) significantly considered vessel collision, considering its main span crosses the busy waterway in Cebu.

“CCLEX’s main bridge has a maximum ship collision capacity of 110 meganewton (or equivalent to an 80,000 deadweight tonnage bulk cargo ship colliding onto the pile cap when traveling at 7.5 knots),” said the CCLEC.

CCLEC noted that the height of the main bridge from the sea is 52.50 meters with a width of 260 meters, allowing large vessels to pass safely and securely underneath.

The bridge, according to CCLEC, is equipped with a Bridge Management and Monitoring System, which is used to measure and monitor the main bridge’s structure conditions via different sensors including road weather information system. The sensors are used to measure and monitor road weather conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, visibility and atmospheric pressure.

The bridge also has stay cable accelerometers which detect fatigue loads, vibrational modes, and natural frequencies, among others. It is equipped with GPS position sensors, which detect displacement between the ends of the main bridge deck, and expansion joint displacement sensors, which are used to measure the accurate position of the relevant components of the main bridge such as the tops of the pylons.

Marine signals were installed on the sides of the main bridge deck to serve as a navigational aid for ships going in and out of Cebu’s ports.

CCLEX connects Cebu City on the mainland to the town of Cordova on Mactan Island. The first two bridges connect the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

Bridge board

Meanwhile, Mactan-Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) chairperson and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia told reporters on Wednesday that the board is focused on establishing a roundabout or rotunda along the intersection of UN Ave. in Mandaue City leading to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, also colloquially known as the second Cebu–Mactan Bridge.

Garcia said the traffic in the intersection sometimes reaches the second bridge during peak hours. The weight of the vehicles might have an impact on the bridge’s load capacity, she said.

The rotunda is seen to reduce the stress load to the bridge as it will improve the flow of traffic from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport going to mainland Cebu, she added.

The MCBMB is composed of the local government units that touch the three bridges, namely the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and the town of Cordova.

Garcia said the Department of Public Works and Highways is also on the board. The agency’s role is to handle the bridges’ maintenance, she said.

In November 1990, mv Sanko Elegance, a Korean-registered vessel, rammed into one of the columns of the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge, or the first bridge, at the height of super typhoon Ruping.

The damage forced authorities to close the bridge for more than two months. The bridge at the time was the lone link between Cebu mainland and Mactan Island. It was reopened to light vehicular traffic in January 1991. / JJL, EHP


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