Faulty Bridges

Topics: Bridge, I-35W Mississippi River bridge, Truss bridge Pages: 13 (5088 words) Published: April 18, 2013
The I-35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007, killed 13 and injured 145. It was designed in the 1960s, lasting 40 years. The weak spot of the bridge was gradually getting weaker as pressure continued to build on it. The bridge would gain weight as workers installed concrete structures and built strain. “This is not a bridge-inspection thing,” said one investigator, “It’s calculating loads and looking at designs.” “This could well be a one-off thing. But you don’t know that.” Corrosion and age-related cracking are typically thought of to have been the cause of the incident but this was not the case. The I-35W Bridge was of a type called fracture critical[1]. The design is lighter and less expensive to build, but highway departments neglected it as it has fallen out of favor. Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board which is investigating the collapse, Mark Rosenker, said “its officials would begin a frame-by-frame analysis of a video that captured the collapse. With the cause of the collapse unknown, the U.S. Transportation Department said it had told all states to inspect bridges similar to the steel-deck truss span that fell or, at minimum, review inspection reports to determine if further action is needed." “There were 756 such bridges”, the department added (nytimes pg. 1). A bridge engineer, Dan Dorgan, for the Minnesota Department of Transportation said, "We thought we had done all we could, obviously something went terribly wrong." The number one priority when dealing with a bridge collapse is how it could have been prevented. “The collapse, while still under investigation, underscores the dangers of delaying maintenance on critical bridges”, said John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer and associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gephyrophobia[2] is unnoticeably present in many Americans today (blog pg. 1). Many think this condition isn't common and is irrational when it comes across one's mind, but it actually is a popular phobia that is only growing stronger. It is important to minimize paranoia of U.S. citizens after an incident like this. In 1990, the people of Minnesota were given a warning that indicates the threats of bridges in the state, with the 35W Bridge being one of them. Ironically, this bridge collapsed in 2007. “I remember being paranoid for a while after hearing about and seeing the aftermath of a tragic social design issue that ended in a way no one ever would have imagined.”, said a blogger concerning the incident. Minnesota was aware that this bridge posed a threat 17 years before it collapsed, yet this incident was not prevented. It appears that faulty bridges have a very low priority if it takes more than fifteen years to resolve. The only consideration made for the faulty bridge was patchwork fixes, which didn't do much at all considering this was a steel arch deck truss bridge. "A failure like this is a real wake-up call," John Ochsendorf said. "It reminds us that we can't take our infrastructure for granted. We need to consistently invest new money into what we've already built." We should definitely emphasize the question of how a future bridge collapse could be prevented (blog pg. 1). It shouldn't take a tragedy to make people realize that a faulty bridge is a problem to be recognized and taken care of effectively. There are 756 bridges that are currently in the same state of structure as the 35W Bridge when it collapsed. So that we learn from our mistakes, these bridges should all be checked and any little problem should be dealt with immediately. This gives people a stronger sense of safety with bridges, which is important considering the bridge collapse has made many people paranoid. There are 140,000 people that cross the 35W Bridge. A seminarian who regularly crossed the bridge commented, Liza McGhee, commented, "If it could happen in Minnesota, it can happen here in New York, "I think New York has to be prepared for anything, and we have to put more...
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