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Tragic overpass collapse resurfaces Brazil's World Cup spending controversy

Friday, July 4th 2014 - 07:00 UTC
Full article 18 comments

Concerns over Brazil's World Cup preparations took a deadly turn on Thursday after a partially finished highway overpass collapsed on a road below, killing at least two people and wounding at least 23 others in Belo Horizonte, according to state health officials. Read full article

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  • Jack Bauer

    Tragic but not surprising. It's becoming more and more common to see this kind of thing happen....bad engineering or corruption..or both ?
    What surprises me is that the viaduct (a public project under the auspices of the Federal Government's PAC programme (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento) cost - according to local news - a 'mere' R$ 713 million....and now it's collapsed..On the other hand, even more surprising, is that the same government claims, in their defense over the excessive spending for the World Cup, that the Stadiums that were built from scratch, cost each, only about US$ 250 million, equivalent to R$ 550 million...How can a simple viaduct, not even 100 metres long, cost one and a half times a stadium ???

    Jul 04th, 2014 - 03:56 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Briton

    Cutting corner have never worked, and never will, shoddy work will always result in possible deaths,

    our sympathy to the relatives...

    Jul 04th, 2014 - 06:44 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 1 Jack Bauer
    “How can a simple viaduct, not even 100 metres long, cost one and a half times a stadium ???”

    For a start the stadium is constructed on the ground in a cleared area, the flyover has neither of these attributes and has ground stress points where the supports are located. Any failure (movement) in the substrate of the supports will tend to result in fractures of the new concrete and the result is here to see.

    Don’t overlook the fact that the biggest task facing the designers and constructors is ensuring that new concrete has adequate strength to maintain its own weight until it cures sufficiently to take additional weight / stress forces, usually two or three weeks. Any movement, however slight is fatal for the structure during this time.

    This design is well established and the failure could well be down to poor control of the temporary support structures / casting forms or of the concrete itself during mixing and casting.

    Fantastic there were so few deaths and injuries it could have been so much worse.

    Jul 04th, 2014 - 08:02 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • golfcronie

    In my day we used to keep the concrete wet so that it cured slowly and didn't dry out too quickly. I am assuming where it was built is very hot. Also it could be that as you say the temporary supports were removed too soon.Also time contraints could be a factor.

    Jul 04th, 2014 - 09:41 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 4 golfcronie
    “In my day we used to keep the concrete wet so that it cured slowly and didn't dry out too quickly.”

    Here in Uruguay it’s still the same now but more so I suspect. I had some heavy sewer / drains work done which required casting formers and supports and the builder made certain that I knew to use the hose at least six times during the day for two days and three times a day for another two days: glad to say there were no cracks anywhere!

    I think it’s natural for most people who know very little about concrete to assume that it has massive strength from the start, which as you know is just not the case. They are also surprised when I explain that the concrete will go on getting stronger and stronger for years if not decades. The concrete cast by the Romans is far stronger now than it ever was during their time.

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 11:13 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Jack Bauer

    ChrisR@3&5 : Chris, thanks for the lesson in civil engineering. I had'nt caught on to the subtletys of the task...BUT, the mere fact that this project is one of many of the infamous PAC projects (sponsored by the corrupt Feds), which have had problems (not as serious as this one, due to the deaths caused), I am wary of dismissing it as a simple engineering miscalculation. Here, there's a lot more than meets the eye.

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 02:45 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Brasileiro

    We have to teach Aécio Neves build bridges?

    These idiots from PSDB are dumber than the idiots from ARENA!

    Minas Gerais “LIBERTAS QUAE SERA TAMEN”

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 04:50 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    Sad news indeed. My sympathy is with the bereaved families. How many have now died in the process of bringing the World Cup to Brazil?

    Is it time for a rethink on the Olympics?

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 05:27 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Briton

    ?? Possibly.

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 06:34 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    I suggest building a permanent home for the Olympics in Greece with all participating members contributing a % towards costs based on their GDP, adjusted annually.
    This would provide a massive, sustainable boost to the Greek economy and hopefully the EU would not have to keep bailing them out.

    Any takers?

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 06:51 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Brasileiro

    Talvez Briton amigo.

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 07:30 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 6 Jack Bauer
    “I am wary of dismissing it as a simple engineering miscalculation. Here, there's a lot more than meets the eye.”

    I am not dismissing anything at all just stating the difficulties that happen when even the best of companies run into trouble.

    It could be of course that the concrete supplier used inferior materials and the tests done on site were not up to detecting it. I have to admit that it is the more common reason for these types of failures. Even time expired cement can have devastating consequences: the bridge looks OK and maybe “feels” OK and stands up for a time after the forming supports have been removed. Local traffic vibrations then take over and shake the ‘weak’ bridge until something like this happens.

    BUT, it should NEVER happen if the correct controls are applied at each stage from site survey / design / material selection / building companies experience with these types of structures / correct soil and substrate testing is done / regular testing of concrete supplied to the site AND of course adequate training is given to the site employees. Simple, common sense really but often overlooked or criminally ignored. Just imagine how much money the concrete supplier would make if the concrete was half price by virtue of being time expired “but it will be OK”?

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 08:59 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    Thanks ChrisR. Some real insight there.

    We will wait and see if it was corruption or bad workmanship. I imagine it was a 'rush job'.

    Jul 05th, 2014 - 10:17 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • reality check

    @8

    Good idea, perhaps that could be a permenant venue, sponsored by a different nation for each games and guaranteed a high percentage of the revenues gained in return for their investment.

    Jul 06th, 2014 - 11:17 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    @14
    I like the idea of sponpsorship, allowing a different nation each time,to highlight their best attributes whilst promoting the Games. A permanant home could be refurbished each time, lowering the overall costs whilst providing steady employment.

    Jul 06th, 2014 - 12:08 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Jack Bauer

    @7 BrazzoIdiot, “We have to teach Aécio Neves build bridges?”....
    Just fyi, it was a “PAC” project (“obra do PAC”), of the Federal Government ...get your facts straight before you start blowing your hot air...
    @12 ChrisR - I'm not questioning your engineering expertise, as obviously you know what your talking about...I was only suggesting, as you have now said, “ It could be of course that the concrete supplier used inferior materials ”......Unfortunately, whenever some public project is contracted out (be it by the Federal, the State or Municipal governments), it is no surprise to learn - later - that corruption, in many forms, was present, so that someone could make an extra buck.
    And, as Ilsen suggested @13, “I imagine it was a 'rush job”, is probably not very far off the mark....being a Federal project, quite likely it was being rushed so that it could be inaugurated on the eve of the Presidential elections.

    Jul 06th, 2014 - 03:26 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • The Voice

    ....it appears that nobody has ever heard of concrete curing compounds....
    ..they prevent rapid loss of moisture...

    Jul 07th, 2014 - 07:56 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 17 The Voice
    “....it appears that nobody has ever heard of concrete curing compounds.....they prevent rapid loss of moisture...”

    I am sure that it appears like that to you.

    There are of course furthers details I could have gone into like the concrete mix will be designed to suit the pouring application and the local temperatures and humidity, subject always to the maximum limits of such propriety compunds inclusion before unacceptable strength loss occurs.

    Plasticizers will also be included to help the mix flow into the formers and avoid stress raising bubbles at the edges of the set concrete form.

    But I didn’t think anybody would want to be bored with trivialities.

    Jul 07th, 2014 - 10:06 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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