Hidden problem causes 50-metre viaduct collapse in Lugo?

by Lorraine Williamson
viaduct collapse

Part of a viaduct on the Autovía del Noroeste (A-6), very close to the border between the provinces of Lugo and León, collapsed on Tuesday. The cause of the incident is as yet unknown and is being investigated. There were no injuries. 

On Tuesday morning, a section of about 50 metres of the viaduct collapsed. Because the road was being repaired, the area was closed to traffic. No one was injured in the incident, despite the fact that several workers were in the vicinity when it happened.  

The collapse of 50 metres of the A-6 viaduct has no ‘precedent’ in the history of Spanish civil engineering. However, it may have been due to some hidden problem in the construction. 

The incident could also be the result of the repair work that has been going on for almost a year on this section of the two-lane road between Lugo and León. These are the first statements made by the Director-General of Roads, Javier Herrero. He visited the area on Wednesday together with the government representative in Galicia, José Miñones.   

The entire infrastructure is being checked  

The head of Roads at the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda explained that the viaduct was closed last summer. This happened after major problems were identified in the infrastructure. ‘During these periodic inspections we discovered that there was significant corrosion in some of the cables that support the decks. We saw that the damage could be significant and on 18 October last year we declared an emergency. Furthermore, this came at a cost of €11 million to check the condition of the beams,’ Herrero explained. However, he clarified that there was apparently no damage to the parallel viaduct.  

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The ministry official stressed that the beam had been repaired and that at the time of the collapse, work was being carried out on the upper slab. He also explained that the so-called isostatic construction on the viaduct, are built in such a way that if one of the sections is damaged, the rest will not be damaged.   

Herrero announced that all elements of the infrastructure will be checked, including the foundations on which all the pillars of the viaduct are based. He did not want to give a timetable for the reopening of the two-lane road. ”If there are no additional structural elements, we will open as soon as possible. But until we know the cause, I cannot give a schedule,” he said.   

Traffic diverted 

The collapsed section is located half a kilometre from the border between the provinces of Lugo and León. Since work began, traffic has been closed on the carriageway towards A Coruña, but after the collapse the Ministry of Transport decided to close the carriageway towards Madrid as well. So now all traffic is diverted onto the N-6.   

In the town of Pedrafita do Cebreiro in Lugo, many cars are now driving through the town centre. Heavy vehicles too, as there are many lorries that regularly use the A-6. This increase in traffic worries local residents, with the exception of owners of petrol stations and restaurants. 

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