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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bridge Inspections in High Gear

Given the realistic tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis it is somewhat of a relief to know that inspections of similar designed bridges in Massachusetts are a top priority of our state government. That is the kind of reaction every state in the nation needs from its political leaders. Yes, the deaths of the people in the Minneapolis bridge collapse was tragic but if just one life can be saved by someone inspecting our nations bridges then I would rather have them spend my tax dollars realistically evaluating the structural integrity of our bridges than discussing the damn topic.

All of the authority of our state and federal government should be thrown behind this endeavor to make sure that the infrastructure that supports our communities is sound. I’ve heard reports from reputable sources that many of our nations bridges were built prior to 1950. Having that little nugget of information tickling the back of my brain led me to this link associated with this story. “Bay State Bad Bridges” in the Boston Herald.

If our state and the federal government can find the money to build a self collapsing, leaks like a sieve, tunnel in Boston then we can find the money to fix or replace 560 “Deficient” bridges.

Over at the Boston Herald they have this great story…

‘Structurally deficient’ rating eyed in Bay State: Looking for trouble
By Marie Szaniszlo and Joe Dwinell
Saturday, August 4, 2007 - Updated: 12:09 PM EST

Defect-hunting state engineers are working overtime this weekend to inspect nine steel-truss bridges in Massachusetts - including Boston’s frail Longfellow Bridge - that have the same “structurally deficient” rating as the Interstate 35W span that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis, killing at least five people.

The “structurally deficient” rating does not necessarily mean dangerous, said Thomas Broderick, director of highway safety at MassHighway.

Reasons for the poor grade can range from an inordinate number of potholes to major structural damage, Broderick said.

“When it gets to the point where there is any imminent danger, we do close them,” he said.

Engineers also have reviewed the latest inspection reports of most of the 15 other Bay State steel-truss bridges similar in design to the doomed Minnesota span and have not yet found anything of concern, Broderick said.

They expect to finish reviewing the others by Monday night.


“We need to clean our house before we add any new additions,” said state Rep. Betty Poirier (R-North Attleboro), who said the governor’s pitch to extend a rail line to the South Coast is too much, too soon.

“We don’t have the money to maintain what we already have,” she said yesterday.

The collapse in Minneapolis has focused attention away from new projects and onto old ones. David Westerling of the Pioneer Institute said the timing is “uncanny.”

“You need to step back and appreciate what you have and take care of it,” said Westerling, co-author of a report detailing the state’s neglect of its infrastructure, especially the Longfellow Bridge, which connects Boston and Cambridge.

“We used the Longfellow Bridge as an example of deferred maintenance,” added the associate professor of civil engineering at Merrimack College.

“We are the stewards of the natural environment and the built environment.”
- Boston Herald

It is up to every state Governor to take the reins and run with an intensive program to inspect all of their bridges. Go over the results of the inspection and call in the big guns also known as Congressional Members to get some help fixing or rebuilding problem bridges. Let’s concentrate on rebuilding our own infrastructure first before we toss billions down the drain rebuilding other peoples problems a long way from home.

Next time you are out driving around or have the unfortunate chance to be stuck in traffic, look around as you pass over or under a bridge. Drop a dime to your elected local officials. Call your local newspaper, call anyone you can think of.

In the days and weeks to come, somebody or for that matter several people in Minneapolis are going to loose their jobs for not doing enough. Bridges don’t just fall down because they want to. Bridges fall because the structure was weak or severely “Deficient”. Somebody somewhere reported on this bridges risk facts and somebody else ignored it. That is where this story will go next.

My heartfelt prayers go out to the people of Minneapolis that lost a loved one in this horrible event. I’m hoping and praying that the number of victims from this devastating disaster does not go higher. Unfortunately, as the days pass that will not be the case.

Recommend this post to a friend...
Ron Beasely of Gun Toting Liberal has a very interesting point on this topic...

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