历史记忆和技术失败

西班牙裔美国诗人和哲学家George Santayana曾警告世人"忘记过去会让历史重演",在造桥史上更是如此。过去150年来,几乎每隔一段时间就会出现令人震惊的失败。

1847年,英格兰切斯特发生了英国铁路扩建工程的首次重大结构事故。按照当时流行的锻铸方法修建的迪桥(Dee Bridge)在火车开过时突然坍塌,所有乘客全部遇难。随后的调查显示:该桥的锻铸构造在同类桥中历史最为悠久,超出了铁路桥技术所能允许的最大限度。

1879年,横跨苏格兰敦提泰河的世界第一长桥宣告落成。桥身修有很多小拱,没有采用任何全新技术,似乎只是成熟技术的又一次应用。然而,这座桥严重低估了风力的影响,修造工艺也十分粗糙。结果是泰桥禁不住狂风的考验,桥身被突如其来的大风吹离了基座。

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