The Bridges of Illinois
By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 3, 2007 1:30PM
As all of us watch the terrible news in Minnesota unfold, many state governments are starting to look at their own inventory of bridges. Illinois ranks in the middle of bridge condition when compared to other states, according to an AP article in The Daily Southtown, with around 10% of our bridges rated "structurally deficient" - slightly better than the national average of 12%. Yesterday Governor Rod Blagojevich ordered immediate inspections of high-volume bridges and those with designs similar to the one that collapsed Wednesday night, leaving four dead, eight still missing and many more injured.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said that the bridge in Minnesota had been rated 50 on a scale of 120. In a press conference yesterday, White House spokesman Tony Snow noted that while the federal Department of Transportation sets standards for doing inspections, it is the responsibility of the states to conduct those inspections. He promised a rigorous federal investigation into the circumstances of what he termed "a unique catastrophe." Aside from the Executive branch, the political uproar over this disaster was taken up on Capitol Hill as well, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling it a "wake-up call" in terms of the state of our national infrastructure. Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama have said that they want to make sure that Illinois bridges get federal attention as well.
Up north in Minnesota, the reasons and circumstances of this bridge collapse will be under heavy scrutiny. Already a complex investigation is being planned, and federal safety investigators are planning to reassemble the pieces of the bridge, like in an aviation disaster. Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the investigation could take a year or more, with the head of the NTSB materials lab arriving in Minneapolis to participate in the investigation.
Image via Artamnesia