Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some Thoughts On The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

This piece is not entirely about politics, but neither are the posts that I occasionally do about sports or music.

No, there are some stories that deserve a mention, for no other reason but to serve in processing bad situations that occur. When anything like what has just occurred in Minneapolis happens, there comes a time when one must begin the process of healing.


For some, the period of shock must subside, before any true rational thinking can begin. Properly processing information can only begin after the ability to reason and gain insight is restored. For some it comes fairly quickly, others not so much. It all depends upon the person and the level they have been traumatized.

Some people are still fighting for their lives, right now. Others, sadly, are gone. The numbers may be low right now, but this is a mess and it's not likely the answers will come quickly. How many? Who? Why? Those questions (and others more specific) will no doubt be asked real soon, and more in the coming year ahead.

Fingers may point, accusations may fly, and heads may roll. But that's not important now. The first order of business is to rescue, then recover. Then, after that is completed, the real work of getting the questions answered will begin.

But it will not be over then.

When it reaches this stage in the process, the fun will be just beginning. Someone will need to be blamed.

We would then expect theories to be formed. Most will be far-fetched conspiracy theories, only a handful will pan out to become reasonable. Evidence will be gathered, Meetings and hearings will be held, possibly by grandstanders that want to make it look like they are on the ball. Maybe even Congress will hold one, after all, an election year is near. At any rate, a determination will be made at some level, sometime in the distant future. If this happens, , they can then hit the campaign trail, telling us how they got to the bottom of the whole thing.

What will really be interesting? Hearing all of the whacko theories that involve the rise of the new world order and seeing how long it will take before Bush's name is inserted into the fray. Or maybe it will be more irrational, something on the order of: Karl Rove's hurricane machine is in the shop and now he has a new bridge collapse machine.

What I would like to remind people to think about while forming of all their opinions, is simple. In spite of this, some may find it difficult or downright impossible to grasp. Here's what should be considered:

People are human, and imperfect ones at that. So it should come as no surprise and it stands to reason that the things we build (as imperfect beings) will not be perfect.

It comes no simpler than that.

So, as far as the human side of this story is concerned, right now (at this juncture) how this bridge broke is irrelevant. Yet, in the grander schemes of things we must all know and realize the time will come to learn from this.

In the meantime, the families of those people will be in mourning for awhile; and of this particular component of the story, we must be understanding, aware, and respectful of this. I would hope that on the whole, most bloggers would exercise caution and discretion in their speculations. Basically, I hope they use good judgment as they post their thoughts and theories.

Like I said earlier, when we build things we must understand the repercussions of being imperfect. Things happen and not all things can be predicted and prevented. We must not be looking to rush to judgments or formulating crap as a basis for a thesis. And we must always be mindful of who we could hurt, especially someone that has already been hurt enough and needs to process this through more thoroughly before being subjected to said crap.

That said, there may be moments where the system that is designed to protect its citizenry, breaks down and fails. If it is determined this is the case, here or anywhere else, it should be dealt with in an appropriate manner and appropriate time.

I am sure that I wasn't the first or only person to wonder if was terrorism. How can it not enter your mind for the first few moments after learning of things of this magnitude. You have to think that initially, but judiciously. But so far, Homeland Security says there's no evidence to support this. So, I urge caution in that area.

In all things we do, I feel it is imperative to exercise good judgment and extend our sympathies in a proper manner. PYY extends its sincere hope that all readers and their loved ones from the Minneapolis area are safe. Les, one of our semi-regulars, is okay. He has posted about it, so that was a relief when I saw that he had. And to all of the people of Minneapolis that have been affected by this disaster (both directly and indirectly), I will say a prayer for you all. This is all I can do, from my vantage point.



A local TV station, WCCO-4 (CBS Affiliate), has been keeping online information fairly well updated, if you cannot be near a TV.

13 comments:

David Andrew Gagne said...

God is in control.

We're praying with you from the International House of Prayer in KC!

Anonymous said...

I really hope this isn't terrorism, but is it possible that if it were terrorism that the government has decided not to tell us? The administration doesn't want to look bad, doesn't want panic, and doesn't want the terrorists to get any mileage out of their efforts. When the street blew up in New York City last week, and now with this disaster, it seems like the authorities assure people that it wasn't terrorism before anyone has had a chance to really do the detective work.
In any event my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this. My prayers are with you all.

Greg said...

Damn, I wanted to be the first to blame Bush! :(

But seriously, how does a bridge just fall down? I'm very suspicious.

I just got an email from my friend Layla who takes that bridge everyday. She wasn't on it when it fell, thank God.

One prediction before I go to read the foreign press: they will ignore the good stories we always see in this type of disaster in America - of passers-by jumping into the water to try to save people and of victims turning their attention to other victims instead of evacuating - in favor of stories about neglected infrastructure, and of course, how Bush might be to blame. Anyone want to bet?

Leslie Bates said...

The bridge was designed and built at a time when redundant structural components were not required. So when one piece of the bridge broke the whole structure collapsed.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//One prediction before I go to read the foreign press: they will ignore the good stories we always see in this type of disaster in America - of passers-by jumping into the water to try to save people and of victims turning their attention to other victims instead of evacuating - in favor of stories about neglected infrastructure, and of course, how Bush might be to blame. Anyone want to bet?//

Well, so far I haven't run across the foreign press doing this. But here is a posting on a Guardian blog. Note the second comment. But not to worry, I am sure more will follow with their scathing reviews of how America is the epitome of ineptness and incompetence.

LASunsett said...

Hi Les,

//The bridge was designed and built at a time when redundant structural components were not required. So when one piece of the bridge broke the whole structure collapsed.//

Which begs the question, how many other bridges in America were built at the same time, with similar design flaws. And then, what will be done about it?

Greg said...

LAS: gotta love the Guardian. One of the most virulently anti-American newspapers in western Europe. So, its readers....

I went onto the Liberation site and read the comments (there were already almost 50 at 9 am EDT). There were comments blaming our system of "savage capitalism", and the Iraq War, and George Bush, etc. A few commenters tried to set the idiots straight. What will be truly interesting will be any editorials tomorrow. Can't wait....

A.C. McCloud said...

it seems like the authorities assure people that it wasn't terrorism before anyone has had a chance to really do the detective work.

Indeed. They made the all clear proclamation within an hour of the collapse and before the NTSB go-team had even left for the airport. Unless they know something they can't say, which is possible, it's hard to imagine they had enough concrete details to make such a claim.

Leslie Bates said...

Which begs the question, how many other bridges in America were built at the same time, with similar design flaws. And then, what will be done about it?

A lot. The Governor mentioned three other bridges built to a similar design in Minnesota.

I forgot to mention that a basic goal in engineering is to minimize the use of materials and labor in the construction process. In other words, save money.

Leslie Bates said...

From John Weeks' I 35W Bridge site:

http://www.johnweeks.com/~jweeks/bridges/pages/ms16.html

Governor Tim Pawlenty has ordered inspections all such deck truss bridges in the state. There are two similar bridges located in the Twin Cities area, the Highway 23 Desoto Bridge in St. Cloud and the MN-243 Bridge over the Saint Croix River in Osceola, Wisconsin. A third deck truss bridge is located on Highway 123 over the Kettle River in Sandstone, MN. In addition, the I-90 Dresbach Bridge over the Mississippi River main channel near La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a non-redundant style bridge that is on MN-DOT's watch list. MN-DOT has an active study to examine alternatives that include removing the Dresbach Bridge, which potentially has many years of remaining life, and replacing it with a bridge that has built-in redundancy.

I've driven on all three of those bridges.

LASunsett said...

Les,

Thanks for the updates. I am still getting a fair amount of hits on this post, mostly using the search words, "Minneapolis bridge collapse conspiracy". But hey.

Leslie Bates said...

You're welcome.

There is a big box strip mall, The Quarry Center, just off of the closed section of I 35W where I do a lot of grocery shopping. The grocery store didn't appear to be effected by the closure but the parking lots in front of the other stores were very close to being empty.

Leslie Bates said...

Mn-Dot is dismantling the traffic signals and putting up jersey barriers at the intersections on the upper part of Minnesota Highway 280 today. This bottlenecked the traffic on the I-35W detour route down to one lane.

After I checked my P.O. box in at the Downtown Post Office I found a place to park, grabbed the set of binoculars that I keep in my car, and walked down to the old Stone Arch Bridge. There was a crowd on that bridge. I couldn't see the whole of the wreckage of the 35W bridge but I could see huge patches of rust on some the structural pieces that were visible.