Flat-Wheeler wrote:I'd be willing to put money on it, the storm was probably the ultimate precipitator of the bridge failure, but is definitely not to be fully blamed.
If you look at the USCG photo of the bridge it seems to indicate there was no structural failure of the bridge deck, just a derailment. I had gotten the impression from written accounts that the bridge collapsed. In the photo the bridge deck seems to be intact and supporting the weight of two of the derailed cars and a third tanker on the right hand side. The damage to the bridge seems to be mostly to the super-structure above the deck.
Quite possibly the derailment was caused by the deck pivoting slightly under the train, causing the rails to spread. I guess it's also possible the derailment was caused by an equipment failure involving one of the tank cars.
Precisely because of the implications of this accident, people saying it shows the railroad infrastructure in this country is badly under-maintained to the extent it is becoming hazardous, is why I expect the NTSB to address that immediately, in their preliminary report. I sure hope they do anyway.