When I was in school at the University of Minnesota, I frequently used the 35W bridge that collapsed yesterday evening.
All of my immediate family lives in Minneapolis, and I panicked when I could not reach my mom by phone last night. It turned out that she was calling me at the same time to assure me that everyone in the family was safe and accounted for. But my dad had an appointment in that part of town at 7 pm last night and had been planning to take a route that traveled over that bridge. Close call.
Several people are dead and 20 or 30 more may still be trapped in cars in the debris. The pictures are chilling.
Now it turns out that the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation issued a report citing structural deficiences with the bridge as early as 2001. The warnings were apparently ignored.
According to CNN:
Bridge deficiencies are summarized as “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete,” according to the Federal Highway Administration.
A bridge is tagged structurally deficient when significant bridge elements have deteriorated and the bridge’s load-carrying capacity is reduced . . . .
A bridge is dubbed functionally obsolete when the bridge does not meet current design standards.
Neither label indicates a bridge is unsafe for travel.
“Structurally deficient,” “functionally obsolete.” Are these just words that allow bureaucrats and politicians to file reports and forget about them? Clearly this tragedy could have been prevented.