Falco Muscante II: What do Fern Hole Bridge and U.S. Metal Tower have in frequent?

On Feb. 7, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) launched a preliminary report on the Jan. 28 collapse of the Fern Hole Bridge. The report on the failure of the not-even-50-year-old bridge spanning Frick Park was unsurprising — however for one explicit footnote.

The NTSB described the bridge as “an uncoated weathering metal, three-span, steady inflexible ‘Ok’ body construction with two welded metal girders, welded metal flooring beams, and rolled metal stringers.” Nothing too thrilling, proper? Improper. The accompanying footnote defines the uncoated weathering metal: “metal alloy … designed to, over time and with publicity to climate, kind a protecting patina that negates the necessity for portray.” Which means that the metal used for the bridge was designed to deliberately rust. The rust would act as a protectant — much like paint — to get rid of the necessity for any extra exterior coatings.

So, what do the Fern Hole Bridge and the U.S. Metal Tower have in frequent? They’re each comprised of uncoated weathering metal.

The Metal Tower is a stalwart within the iconic Pittsburgh skyline and is, the truth is, older than the late Fern Hole Bridge. Since its completion Sept. 30, 1971, the skyscraper has represented each our metropolis’s wealthy historical past in metal manufacturing and our metropolis’s technological and progressive future.

The triangular-shaped constructing is made from 44,000 tons of structural metal with 18 fundamental help columns on the outside of the constructing. Every of those help columns on the constructing’s exoskeleton is made from corten (or COR-TEN) — a kind of uncoated weathering metal like that used for the Fern Hole Bridge — and full of half one million gallons of water and antifreeze to guard the constructing for as much as 4 hours within the occasion of a fireplace. The metal body harkens to the booming metal business that gave Pittsburgh its nickname, the “Metal Metropolis,” and the form of the constructing displays Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle” on the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.

Now, I’m not an engineer and am not in any method suggesting that the Metal Tower is flawed or in any hazard — evaluating a skyscraper to a bridge is apples and oranges. Bridges and roads take a beating from the vibrations of the vehicles and vans that journey over them every day and in addition the tough highway salt used to mitigate the Western Pennsylvania climate. Nonetheless, it will likely be attention-grabbing to learn the NTSB full report to find out whether or not the weathering metal performed any main issue within the collapse.

The Fern Hole Bridge made nationwide information, and the distinction between the bridge’s tragic failure and the splendor of the U.S. Metal Tower serves as a reminder of the necessity to protect and preserve the getting old infrastructure in our historic metropolis that has recast itself as a technological hub.