Recent hydraulic bridge failures in China: review and discussion


  • Sifeng Qin College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Dalian University, Dalian (China)
  • Huili Wang National and Local Joint Engineering Laboratory of Bridge and Tunnel Technology, Dalian University of Tech-nology, Dalian (China)
  • Zhikang Luo National and Local Joint Engineering Laboratory of Bridge and Tunnel Technology, Dalian University of Tech-nology, Dalian (China)



This paper studies 123 hydraulic bridge failures in China from 1998 to 2018. The geographic distribution, age distribution, bridge type distribution, time distribution and the hydraulic bridge failure causes are analyzed. Six typical failure cases of hydraulic bridges are analyzed in detail. 100 hydraulic bridge failures occurred in southern China so hydraulic bridge failures are much more common in this area. The average service life of these bridges is 28.9 years. The beam bridge accounts for the largest proportion of hydraulic bridge failure because 71 (57.7%) beam bridges were destroyed by flood. Hydraulic bridge failure mainly occurred between 2009 and 2014, which was related to the impact of the Wenchuan earthquake. The incidents major causes include unexpected flood, earthquake, old bridge, over sand exploitation, low awareness of hydraulic bridge damage, extreme morphology of the river, etc. There are both natural factors and man-made factors. These results show that three aspects should be paid attention to: (1) unexpected flood; (2) appropriate bridge type; and (3) extreme morphology of the river.


Choudhury, J. R., & Hasnat, A. (2015). Bridge collapses around the world: Causes and mechanisms. Paper presented at the IABSE-JSCE Joint Con-ference on Advances in Bridge Engineering-III, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Cook, W., Bar, P. J., & Halling, M. W. (2015). Bridge failure rate. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 29(3), 1-8. doi:

Cook, W., Barr, P. J., & Halling, M. W. (2014). Segregation of bridge failure causes and consequences. Paper presented at the TRB 2014, Washington, DC.

Duntemann, J. F., & Subrizi, C. D. (2000). Lessons learned from bridge construction failures. Paper presented at the Second Forensic Engineering Con-gress, Puerto.

Guang, L. (2012).

Hager, W. H., & Unger, J. (2010). Bridge Pier Scour under Flood Waves. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 136(10), 842-847. doi:

Harik, I. E., Shaaban, A. M., Gesund, H., Valli, G. Y. S., & Wang, S. T. (1990). United States bridge failures, 1951–1988. Journal of Performance of Con-structed Facilities, 4(4), 272–277.

Hong, J.-H., Chiew, Y.-M., Lu, J.-Y., Lai, J.-S., & Lin, Y.-B. (2012). Houfeng bridge failure in Taiwan. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 138(2), 186-198. doi:

Hung, C.-C., & Yau, W.-G. (2014). Behavior of scoured bridge piers subjected to flood-induced loads. Engineering Structures, 80, 241–250. doi:

Ji, B. H., & Fu, Z. Q. (2010). Analysis of Domestic Bridge Collapse Accidents In Recent Years. China Civil Engineering Journal, 43(S), 495-498. doi: (in Chinese)

Ko, Y.-Y., Chiou, J.-S., Tsai, Y.-C., & Chen, C.-H. (2014). Evaluation of Flood-Resistant Capacity of Scoured Bridges. Journal of Performance of Con-structed Facilities, 28 (1), 61-75 doi:

Lin, C., Bennett, C., Han, J., & Parsons, R. L. (2012). Integrated analysis of the performance of pile-supported bridges under scoured conditions. Engineer-ing Structures, 36, 27–38. doi:

Madeleine M. Flint, Oliver Fringe, Sarah L. Billington, David Freyberg, & Diffenbaugh, N. S. (2017). Historical Analysis of Hydraulic Bridge Collapses in the Continental United States. Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(3), 1-16. doi:

Mengqi, L. (2010).

Mingkang, L. (2010).

Montalvo, C., Cook, W., & Keeney, T. (2020). Retrospective Analysis of Hydraulic Bridge Collapse. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 34(1), 1-8. doi:

Moroni, M. O., Sarrazin, M., Venegas, B., & Villarroel, J. (2015). Seismic behavior of chilean bridges with seismic protection devices. Revista de la Con-strucción Journal of Construction, 1(1).

Rodrigo, B. G., Olària, S. R. i., Fernández-Ordoñez, D., & Gómez, J. M. C.-S. (2015). Rehabilitation of Historic Masonry Bridges: Lessons Learned from a Medieval Bridge in Northeast Spain. Revista de la Construcción Journal of Construction, 14(2), 9-13.

Sina. (2000).

Wardhana, K., & Hadipriono, F. C. (2003). Analysis of Recent Bridge Failures in the United States. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 17(3), 144-150 doi:

Xinhuashe. (2010).

Xu, D. (2003). Accident Environmental Risk Assessment in Bridge Construction. China Safety Science Journal, 13(8), 46-49. doi: (in Chinese)

Xu, H. T., Guo, G. Z., Pu, H. L., & Yuan, M. (2007). Causes and lessons of bridge accidents in China in recent years. China Safety Science Journal, 17(11), 90-96. doi: (in Chinese)

Zhaoting. (2010).

Zhou, X., & Zhang, X. (2019). Thoughts on the Development of Bridge Technology in China. Engineering, 5, 1120–1130. doi:

Zhuang, D., Xiao, R., Jia, L., & Sun, B. (2020). Failure analysis for overall stability against sliding and overturning of a girder bridge. Engineering Failure Analysis, 109, 1-13. doi:



2022-08-31 — Updated on 2022-09-01


How to Cite

Qin, S., Wang, H. ., & Luo, Z. . (2022). Recent hydraulic bridge failures in China: review and discussion. Revista De La Construcción. Journal of Construction, 21(2), 193–203. (Original work published August 31, 2022)