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Bridges aren’t ready for today’s huge ships

A photo showing Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being struck by the MV Dali cargo ship
Photo by Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

For years now, civil engineers have understood that bridges have a problem: many of them are not designed to withstand a blow from the kinds of cargo ships that routinely pass through their waters. Those concerns came to a head on Tuesday with the devastating collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s the kind of failure engineers have been trying to prevent for decades — and even now, they’re not sure if the available solutions are enough.

“We don’t design for the deadly force that is generated by such an impact — millions of pounds,” Atorod Azizinamini, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Florida International University, tells The Verge. “The collapse has really nothing to do with the type…

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