Not much to add to the commentary surrounding the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis yesterday that has killed at least four people. Others have expressed anger that America's obsession with tax cuts at the expense of maintaining infrastructure has resulted in, well, this.
I will simply recall that shortly after September 11th, one of my fears was crossing the bridges here, either into Manhattan or other points, for fear of terrorism. Turns out, of course, that as we learned from the steampipe explosion next to my old office building, or the bridge collapse in Minnesota... we need to be eternally vigilant against the effects of time and weather.
I've said numerous times that Americans are remarkably irrational about assessing risks. The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis had been rated as problematic for five years... but nothing significant was done, other than simply hoping that, well... you know. The required maintenance would have been very expensive. And thousands of more bridges like it have similar problematic ratings.
Then again, as I alluded to some time ago, it so happens that I-35 is part of the proposed "NAFTA Superhighway" designed to wave trucks from Mexico right through the middle of the United States, absolutely untouched by union labor. The bridge in question was nearly 40 years old... this is certainly one way to secure an upgrade.
Well. Another cautionary tale. Will Americans heed it in a meaningful and productive way? Maybe. But that's not how you bet.
A heavily traveled, 40 year old bridge would be cause for concern in any climate but you'd think extra care would be taken with a bridge that's exposed to such a harsh winter climate - which had to have been subject to tons of corrosive salt through the years.
Posted by Steve at August 3, 2007 5:44 PM
The money is there to fix the infrastructure around the country. Unfortunately, politicians don't get much credit for repair and maintenance of bridges, so they put their efforts into other things.
Posted by Shawn at August 3, 2007 6:51 PM