According to design experts, the collapse of the Baltimore Francis Scott Key Bridge was a shock, but not a surprise.

   Bridge had design elements that led to collapse after impact

According to Architectural Digest (AD), a number of design experts say similar things could happen to older bridges if a similar impact is sustained.

According  to AD:

"The Francis Scott Key Bridge catastrophe has been a shock to the nation—but not a surprise to experts. “This incident could happen again,” Bassem Andrawes, professor of structural engineering at the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, tells AD."

The bridge opened  in 1977, and is what is called a truss steel bridge. Its design is based around a series of steel triangles in a web-like configuration that helps support its weight and that of what it's expected to carry. This common design was first utilized in the 1800's, and it relies on its web design and interconnectedness to be safe.

But AD points out the huge freighter did not hit the structure at a truss or a typical concrete support pier in the water, but hit a midpoint--a different support pier point.

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The impact from the massive ship caused it to crumple, and weaken, bringing  down much of the structure. AD says several other bridge issues with older bridges led, in 1980, to significant changes in bridge design following the collapse of a Tampa Bay area bridge following a similar collision:

  'Largely in response to the 1980 bridge collapse, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the nonprofit organization that sets standards for highway design and construction in the US, published a new set of design guidelines for bridges in the early 1990s that addressed vessel collisions with support piers."

Officials say going forward, since 1980, bridge construction incorporates the safe methods, but older bridges that are 50,60 even 70 years do not.  However, officials say the Key Bridge in Baltimore was in good shape. It just took a massive impact in the 'wrong' spot.

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