“Tonnes of concrete plunged into the Mississippi River during the bridge collapse in Minneapolis on Wednesday.”
Most early reports of this catastrophe were quick to mention that this was not the result of terrorism. Is this supposed to bring a sense of relief that it was just good old fashioned structural collapse – the natural order of things? Must be as natural as, say, a third car bomb in Baghdad in one day.
Here are some quotes from coverage on cbc.ca:
“Officials confirmed Thursday that the 40-year-old bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis had been rated “structurally deficient” but was considered safe for use.”
“Dan Dorgan, of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said that in the 1990s,[!!!] the bridge was classified as structurally deficient after inspections revealed some problems with the bridge related to corrosion, stress and fatigue.“
“Dorgan said there were cracks in the welds since the day it was built but those were stable. Recent inspections in 2005 in 2006 found no evidence of additional cracking in the bridge or growth in the pre-existing cracks.”
“”For those reasons we felt the bridge was fit for service,” he said.”
Let’s see, corrosion, stress, fatigue and 40 year old weld cracks and yet the bridge was deemed safe. I simply look at the photos and raise my eyebrows at those comments.
“Dorgan said that 77,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient, about 13 per cent of all bridges in the country.”
“Tom Everett, of the national bridge inventory program, later said that because a bridge is structurally deficient, does not indicate the bridge is dangerous or must be replaced.”
The quote by Mr. Everett may come back to haunt him. If inspections showed there was no imminent danger, yet the bridge collapsed, one could reasonably infer that there are 77,000 bridges in the U.S. that could collapse at any moment without warning. Canadians should be counting ours too.
For years citizens have heard how our infrastructure is in dire need of repair and replacement. Economic activity has increased the amount of truck, car, train and plane travel. The economy has surely superseded safety when passengers are hurled to their deaths on runways too short in planes with mechanical faults(Brazil). Steam pipes explode with deadly results (New York City) – pipes in the ground and forgotten except by a handful of workers responsible for the maintanence of such things; while in Quebec on Sept. 30, 2006, (photo below) an overpass collapsed, killing five people and injuring six.
“The rubble from the overpass was so heavy it crushed two cars to knee height.”
(Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
Any urban dweller has heard many stories that never made national or international news. The fact is – the infrastructure really is crumbling and it is the intellectual infrastructure of every last one of us. How can we accept billions spent on war while any number of social services are neglected? How can we sit back and watch, knowing the neglect happens for no other reason than it is simply easier to make money by making war, manipulating the stock market, buying companies with borrowed money, and creating a false economy based on mortgages?
The best quote of all, as usual, is from President Bush, who said “… the federal government must respond, and respond robustly, to help the people there not only recover, but to make sure that lifeline of activity — that bridge — gets rebuilt as quickly as possible …”
The people of Minneapolis will have to hold their breath to see if the help is more “robust” than for Katrina survivors. To put the economy and commerce ahead of the lives of people who were smashed to pieces in their vehicles is to be expected of a man who will someday have to answer for other crimes against humanity. These are not “accidents” – they are the expected “collateral damage” of global capitalism; known by those elected and paid by us all. The Dorgan’s and Everett’s of the world are made the scapegoats for the media.