Bridge collapse redux

What follows is a compilation of articles surrounding Wednesday's collaps of a highway bridge in Minnesota.

Officials were warned about the bridge's vulnerability:

Minnesota officials were warned as early as 1990 that the bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River was "structurally deficient," yet they relied on a strategy of patchwork fixes and stepped-up inspections.

"We thought we had done all we could," state bridge engineer Dan Dorgan told reporters not far from the mangled remains of the span. "Obviously something went terribly wrong."

Questions about the cause of the collapse and whether it could have been prevented arose Thursday as authorities shifted from rescue efforts to a grim recovery operation, searching for bodies that may be hidden beneath the river's swirling currents.
...and Nick Coleman of the Minnepolis Star-Tribune is not happy about how little was done to fix the problem:

The death bridge was "structurally deficient," we now learn, and had a rating of just 50 percent, the threshold for replacement. But no one appears to have erred on the side of public safety. The errors were all the other way.

Would you drive your kids or let your spouse drive over a bridge that had a sign saying, "CAUTION: Fifty-Percent Bridge Ahead"?

No, you wouldn't. But there wasn't any warning on the Half Chance Bridge. There was nothing that told you that you might be sitting in your over-heated car, bumper to bumper, on a hot summer day, thinking of dinner with your wife or of going to see the Twins game or taking your kids for a walk to Dairy Queen later when, in a rumble and a roar, the world you knew would pancake into the river.
One Daily Kos member suggests that Republicans move next year's Republican Convention out of St. Paul:

And we have a collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, symbolic of the years of neglect in infrastructure spending. What a horrific reminder on the necessity of government spending, awfully staring the party of small government in the face.

My suggestion to Republicans: find a new convention site. Now.
The author then proceeds to suggest a few cities, starting with - you guessed it - New Orleans.

Because your only selling point is this:

We'll do for your town what we did for New Orleans.
And if you thought that bridge in Minneapolis was the only deficient one:

More than 70,000 bridges across the country are rated structurally deficient like the span that collapsed in Minneapolis, and engineers estimate repairing them all would take at least a generation and cost more than $188 billion.

That works out to at least $9.4 billion a year over 20 years, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. The bridges carry an average of more than 300 million vehicles a day.

It is unclear how many of the spans pose actual safety risks. Federal officials alerted the states late Thursday to immediately inspect all bridges similar to the Mississippi River span that collapsed.

In a separate cost estimate, the Federal Highway Administration has said addressing the backlog of needed bridge repairs would take at least $55 billion. That was five years ago, with expectations of more deficiencies to come.
People are sad about the loss of life, angry that more wasn't done, and fearful about where this could happen next. Whatever your thoughts on this tragedy, Let us keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers - particularly those who are still missing.

No comments: