Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pause for sobering thought

As I write this, the magnitude of the collapse of the I35W bridge across the Mississippi in Minneapolis is becoming apparent. I find myself thinking about the six souls so far confirmed dead, and hoping the number doesn't skyrocket. I am fearful that it almost inevitably will.

When an overpass collapsed near my childhood home of Laval, Quebec last year and killed five, I thought then that it was a wakeup call. We've been hearing for years how government cutbacks in maintenance budgets were putting the continent's infrastructure at risk, how of the tens of thousands of structures we cross over or under every day, that at any one time a frighteningly high percentage was at risk of imminent collapse.

I live in a city forked by a river, and I can hardly go anywhere without going over some sort of bridge. As you think of your own town, I'm sure you're reaching a similar conclusion. Structures that in some cases are as old as we are - or our parents or grandparents - are being asked to carry ever increasing loads, but are being given less care and attention than a rusted out 1967 Chevrolet Impala. The bridge in tonight's collapse was built the same year as that sorry old car.

Your turn: I think we know the cause of this failure - society's inability to prioritize basic upkeep. How do we fix this? Are we willing to foot the bill?

13 comments:

Bob-kat said...

Unfortunately Carmi I think a large part of scoiety always sees things like this as someone else's problem, that is until something goes wrong and then they are amongst the loudest ones demanding that 'someone' should do 'something'.

I feel for the families of those that were killed in this incident.

Heidi said...

Upkeep... I fear for the upkeep of more than just our infrastructure. Upkeep of heathcare, national debt, education...

The Kept Woman said...

Bwahahahahaa. Well, until politicians remember WHY they wre elected and stop playing lobbyists' and big corporations' games we're hosed.

The bottom line is that education gets screwed, upkeep of structures gets screwed and until the gov't starts acting like a business in the areas of budgeting and accountability we're not headed anywhere in the right direction for awhile.

And right, Bob-Kat it's always someone else's fault. Remember Katrina (whistles and looks around...)...so true.

D.O.M. Dan said...

We can help to fix it by electing politicians who commit to spending tax dollars on infrastructure. And if those politicians don't help fix the problem, we don't re-elect them. We also need tax reform, and a budget that defers spending on special interests to programs that benefit a greater number of people.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I live in a city of rivers, too.

My solution? We should all ride bikes and ease some of the weight the bridges have to bear. I know, I know, it's hardly practical, but I can dream, right?

kenju said...

We have to foot the bill. We have to urge our lawmakers to mandate bridge and other maintenance at regular intervals and see that it is enforced. We just have to.

'B' said...

It is a pity that so many souls have been affected by this tragedy. It has made big news here in Australia, and in fact, it was the day after the Thredbo landslide 10th Anniversary, where only one soul survived.

Condolences to all involved.

Anna said...

I was in London when I heard about the bridge. Recently I was on a river tour of the Thames and was amazed at how old many of the bridges were that we were passing under. It's a wonder that there aren't disasters like this more often!

David said...

sobering to think that if highway workers actually WORKED, instaed of standing around, that they would (possibly) put out a better product, or waste less of our money.

here from michele.

nancy said...

My thoughts? If we actually took care of and paid attention to our infrastructure instead paying billions to destroy another countries then we might be ahead of the game.

It is not just our roads and bridges that need help. Our educational system, health care, debt....the list goes on.

And, yes this hits close to where I home my niece lives there. As in, right by that bridge and used it everyday. We are blessed that she and her friends are ok. And, our prayers go out to those not so fortunate.

Meeta said...

Hi Carmi!...
First time over here, and you're making me think. I too live somewhere that I need to pass over an overpass/bridge to get to the other side, and interestingly enough, they've been doing upkeep on the bridge this year. A lot of the overpasses here have been getting restructured. And I guess after this sad incident, we won't complain as much if it makes this place safer.

Matt said...

It isn't an coincidence that I read about Americans' immigrating into Canada to escape the dismayed political atmosphere.

All the money that the Bush administration has poured out to Iraq could not only help upkeep all the questionable infrastructure but also build new ones.

Dara said...

Just what are our taxes covering anyway and how has that money been misspent when it could have been used to fix bridges or levees, etc? I keep thinking about what a horrible way to die, in a state of confusion and fear. My prayers to the victims and loved ones. Here from Michele tonight.