Pharyngula

Yikes!

i-1cef5d92f2a994fdf191825676831314-bridge_collapse.jpg

I was nowhere near this disaster—I’m on the other side of the state—but I’ve been over this bridge lots of times when I travel from Morris to the Twin Cities campus; now it has suddenly collapsed during rush hour, killing at least half a dozen and injuring many more. I’m shocked. There wasn’t any obvious cause, just boom, it fell apart.


An in-person account by someone living right by the bridge, with photos, is available.

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 2, 2007

    I too am sorry for the losses.

    The weaknesses in our national and state infrastructure have long been identified. Maintenance and repair have also as long been deferred. We have had other priorities.

    To give a foreign perspective from a nation without tropical cyclones and large tornadoes (too far north) and earth quakes (too old plate; I doubt that we have historically experienced trembles at 3 or above on the Richter scale):

    Apparently we have very few bridges with this box design because they are considered too flimsy for most purposes – not rigid and sturdy enough. (And after the accident was published, experts rushed in to claim that those odd bridges are of an improved design, whatever that means.)

    That doesn’t sound good for the US bridges, so I hope this changes. I hear the political will for changes is low due to the thankfully rare occurrences of failure, so remedying construction requirements for new bridges could be the simplest start.

  2. #2 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 2, 2007

    Sean:

    Memories of an old Asimov (I think) short story

    Yes, The Feeling of Power, published at least in Robot Dreams (©right; 1986).

    The twist is that the future breed of military recognizes that computers have limitations, so replacing intercontinental ballistic missile controls with men that can recalculate course changes would be an advantage over the enemy. Except for the man in the missile.

    [Btw, one of Asimov's worst stories IMHO - too much suspension of disbelief, twice over.]

  3. #3 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 3, 2007

    windy:

    Actually there’s one of those every year, and the strongest known one was about 6.

    I stand corrected. And I should have checked.

    Hmm, the higher number would put some stress on large structures after all.

    Sean:

    It just so happened I had a superior book shelf. :-P

    (It helps to have a good memory, of course – I wouldn’t have expended time going through my Asimov anthologies blindly. But I also search fast. Every little bit helps in this business. :-)