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Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 6:10pmSanction this postReply
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[this is a repeat post for those who didn't click on the: (read more...) hyper-link]

Important notes:

-The bridge fell 64 feet, part into the Mississippi, and part onto a train (on the north side)

-Over 30 cars were involved -- with an on-site fireman reporting that over 50 cars were involved and, at this moment (2 hours after the bridge collapsed), rescue workers are still finding cars under the water

-There are cars that fell onto other cars, and cars that went, head-first, into the river, 64 feet below

-Nearby Hospitals have categorized it as a Code: Orange disaster (calling in ALL of their off-duty trauma personnel)

-This freeway bridge (over the Mississippi river) was built in 1967 -- WITHOUT pier supports!

-Apparently, a 2006 study reported the need to "monitor fatigue cracking" in the supporting deck truss which did exist

-Other bridges around this one DO HAVE pier supports (pillars that go down into the river to support the bridge)

-Some speculation is that this bridge didn't have pier supports because of environmentalists (pier supports, which go down into the river, would "disturb" the river).

Ed
[someone who was only a mile away when this happened]

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 8/01, 6:12pm)


Post 1

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 6:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ed:

I don't think this is an instance to point the finger at environmentalists. Once a decision has been made to not have piers the responsibility rests solely with the engineers.

Sam


Post 2

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 6:43pmSanction this postReply
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[someone who was only a mile away when this happened]

Oh my god!

I'm watching coverage on Fox now.


Post 3

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 6:57pmSanction this postReply
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My respects to the dead and injured, but where was Michael Moore at the time?

Ted

Post 4

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 8:12pmSanction this postReply
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Sam, I put what you wrote in poem form (for a good reason):

Once a decision has been made to not have piers
the responsibility rests solely with the engineers.

But the first line deals with the actual decision made (which may have been arrived at nonsensically--by statist shmucks).

Now, if you had state-employed engineers, who were told by state-employed bureaucrats to build the thing -- then even if the "hired" engineers personally disagreed with the decision which had already been made (something which, itself, likely involved at least some state-employed engineers or even possibly, retired state engineers -- who were getting awesome pensions), then the only recourse that a dissenting, but chosen state engineer might have would be -- to quit their job!


Am I going too far down a rabbit-hole here (I do that, every once in a while, you know)?

Do states employ their own engineers for things like this, or is the building of a mass transit system (a freeway) always contracted out to independent businesses? And what about the sociopolitical mood in the U.S. back in 1967 (when this thing was made)? Wasn't there a huge upsurge in environmentalism back then?

I'm asking these things sincerely, not insincerely -- hell, I personally acknowledged that I very well may be in Wonderland!

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 8/01, 8:16pm)


Post 5

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 9:15pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

From 1954 to 58, I crossed one of those bridges in Minneapolis to go to high school on an island in the middle of the Mississipi River. I can remember that it was quite a trek, especially when it was 10 below zero and the wind was blowing at, oh, 30 MPH. BRRR! But the bridge that collapsed today hadn't been built yet . . . thankfully! And I'll bet that the one I crossed is still standing.

- Bill

Post 6

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 9:17pmSanction this postReply
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Ed:

I liked the poetic touch.

I've no idea if the bridge was designed, supervised and inspected by civil servants or private contractors but bridges can be constructed by many different means truss, suspension, arches, etc. as well as with piers in the middle of the river. Perhaps in this case the use of piers might have been cheaper and faster to build but this doesn't mean that an alternative method wouldn't be as safe. One would expect that any of the standard methods could be designed and executed safely, barring a problem with the foundations or such but the responsibility still rests with the engineers, be they civil servants or private contractors.

Sam


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Post 7

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 9:46pmSanction this postReply
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To Have your Cake and Eat it Too - But not to Bake it

All bridges are subject to mechanical stress failure and have projected lifetimes and maintenance schedules. The problem was apparently not an initial design flaw which shows rather quickly, but a matter of follow-up.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge between Philly & Camden and the George Washington Bridge between NJ and upper Manhattan are steel suspension bridges which are undergoing constant maintenance. My father, an engineer, has explained the repair and failure of every bridge or span I've been over between the two cities. One small bridge in the woods of South Jersey failed when a 40 ton crane was driven accross a span with a sixteen ton limit. An elevated iron brick and concrete train track crossing Passyunk Avenue by the Schuylkil Expressway in South Phila stood about a century, developing concrete stalactites and only being torn down after bricks and chunks of concrete fell on several cars.

A failure on a forty-year-old concrete bridge with observed typical stress wearing is the fault of the inspectors. If the bridge was failing and there were valid environmental reasons not to reinforce it then it should have been torn down. Someone wanted to have his bridge, but not to reinforce it, and not shut it down for repair. Someone should go to jail for a very long time.

Ted Keer

(Edited by Ted Keer on 8/01, 10:02pm)


Post 8

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 6:05amSanction this postReply
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Right on, Ted.

Sam


Post 9

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 6:31amSanction this postReply
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I read that it was built without piers so as not to interfere with river navigation.

Post 10

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 2:22pmSanction this postReply
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I heard some kind of an 'expert' (a Mr. Levin?) on the news saying that, whatever kind of an explanation is found for this collapse, it won't be found to be the fault of the state-employed engineers who built it.

He said that they are top-notch regarding competency -- or something like that.

:-/

Ed

Post 11

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 2:25pmSanction this postReply
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Kurt,

But there's a g-damned bridge with piers within a 100 yards from this bridge (though it may have been built AFTER this one).

Ed

Post 12

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 4:13pmSanction this postReply
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I have no comment on the current bridge disaster, but I lived in CT back in 1983 when a section of the Mianus River Bridge on I-95 collapsed. This incident was due first to the road's drains having been intentionally blocked for a period of 10 years(!) followed by a failure to properly inspect the connections on the underside of the bridge because the inspectors were not willing to remove bird poop so that the impending failure could be identified and repaired(!!). Ouch. Few people were killed in that incident as it occurred early in the morning. I do believe that a trucker fell the 70 feet into the river below and survived.

If roads were privately maintained, casualties like this would very probably also occasionally happen due to normal human failings, but certain people would scream bloody murder that it was an indictment of the greedy capitalist system. However, these same people remain silent when these things happen under the enlightened system of state-run controls.



Regards,
--
Jeff

Post 13

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 4:37pmSanction this postReply
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C. Jeffery I was just talking about that incident of the Mianus River Bridge collapse today at work. Very sad. I was quite young at the time and don't remember much about it. My brother had told me the Hartford Courant did an investigative report on bridge inspectors showing them having lunch while claiming to be inspecting a bridge, and never actually performing the work they claimed they did.

But no, it's never the government's fault right? A bridge inspector can't actually be expected to inspect a bridge. That would be too demanding of us.
(Edited by John Armaos on 8/02, 4:38pm)


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Post 14

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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I'm very curious to see if when they rebuild the bridge (and this will require patience on my part to be satisfied), the structure will be different. Bridge architechture and engineering, though something I appreciate, is certainly not my strong point in discussion, but I have a feeling in the coming weeks I will be learning more.

I was approximately 100 yards from a section of the bridge that collapsed (the part closest to University Avenue)- picking up my roomate from work, as part of it fell into the iron mill parking lot across the street from her job. I was 1 block away when it happened, so I felt the rumble and heard the noise- terrifying. Ed, I'm glad to hear you are alright, since I knew you were a local, too. (And I will send you a reply email soon...eek!)

One of my friends is missing his wife and very young child, presumed dead at this point. I still have not been able to get ahold of several close to me, which is worrying. I am just happy that I did not have a chance to get on that bridge- which is what I was about to do a few minutes after it happened. This might be the first time I was glad for traffic on Central Avenue making me a bit late.

I hope that those who know people in the area have heard from them that they are safe, or will soon.

Sarah.


Post 15

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 7:56pmSanction this postReply
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Wow! A block from the collapse. And one of your friends is missing his wife and child?? What a tragedy! Makes it a lot more real when you and Ed personalize it as you have. Why did it have to happen at rush hour? Probably because that was when there was the most weight on the bridge.

- Bill

Post 16

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 8:43pmSanction this postReply
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Sarah,

I heard on the news that it will take YEARS (and MILLIONS of dollars) to rebuild this bridge. Let's hope that all that time (and money) is well spent -- this time around.

;-)

On a more serious note: I hope you're able to get a hold of everyone close to you; and as soon as possible. I can't imagine the distress of not being able to get a hold of valued others, during this time of crisis.

Ed

Post 17

Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 10:18pmSanction this postReply
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More recent news reports have said that repairs of some sort were underway at the time of the collapse, and that 3,000 sum feet of cracks were known and serious corrosion had been found. Apparently someone had done a recent doctoral dissertation on how the collapse would progress when it happened. I'm curious if Ed or Sarah could say what the temperature was at the time of the collapse, it's been in the 90's in NYC.

As for the rebuilding, just be thankful you are not in Manhattan. They authorities would be proposing a monument to the disaster itself on the most prime real estate, and the construction of seven little symbolic arches, none of which would be an adequate or functional substitute for the collapsed structure. Construction wouldn't start until 2112.

Ted

Post 18

Friday, August 3, 2007 - 4:05amSanction this postReply
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Ted,

Just after 6pm (when the thing fell) it was probably about 90 degrees -- or just a degree or two less. I was nearby on the road at 5pm, and it was a little OVER 90 degrees then.

Ed

Post 19

Friday, August 3, 2007 - 6:23amSanction this postReply
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Yeah Ed I forgot you live there!  I may have gone over it myself when I was in Minneapolis before.  I just read that in the news report, about it being built that way, just goes to show you how the news often reports things the easiest way they can (i.e. they do very minimal fact checking, if any).

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