Saturday, 4 August 2007

No safer than a bridge of rotten planks

Lay me down before it lies down

Many would have hummed if not sung along whenever the whiff and strains of the Simon & Garfunkel classic Bridge over Troubled Water song comes to ones hearing.

The calming effect of relaying the importance of humans to other humans would really make you want to lay down in the comfort of comatose repose away from the troubles of this wicked world.

At last count, five had entered into permanent repose as strains of neglect found them on a troubled bridge over roaring waters as their confidence in being borne over a solid structure from one bank to another over the Mississippi River was dashed as the structure gave way to lay down onto land and water below.

Falling apart, falling down

Alas! This is no unique event but a litany of events that are beginning to catch the eye of those who really matter; American infrastructure built by generations long gone is coming apart.

It would appear that regimes of inspections over the proper repair of these infrastructure has lead to assessments of "structurally deficient" but seemingly posing no immediate danger to the public.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has been warning of these problems, they have become more of an activist agency for a change of perspectives, but the political masters have ignored these men of "bricks, mortar, concrete and steel" because there is no need to panic.

But, panic we must, because, for a major bridge and traffic artery to fall to pieces without the influence of unusual weather patterns or some seismological event on a cool calm day in a major metropolis or two as is the case of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, there must be something seriously wrong.

Bridges, rails, roads and dams

We saw the breached levees following Hurricane Katrina, dams are falling and quite a few, a third of recent rail accidents have been due to track failure, a bursting steam pipe in the middle of Manhattan and we begin to see a trend, a pattern and something endemic.

If all this does not in some way fall under Homeland Security, I would wonder what does if people are afraid to go out or even stay in for the fear of something collapsing, all because it has not been proper maintained.

In the midst of this quagmire, the contract probably still exists to build the "bridge to nowhere" rather than larger contracts to service and repair the many thousands of bridges to somewhere in America where you can safely go to work and return home to your loved ones.

This is an emergency as major as any war America has ever fought, it should not take the demise of a landmark bridge like the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn before these structures are propped up and self-supporting under maximum strain by the sweat and blood that built the great nation of the United States of America - Get to it and fast.

References

Broken Bridges, Lost Levees and a Brutal Culture of Neglect

States with the most deficient bridges

Historical collapses

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