Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, March 31, 2024
ISSUE #1200
Easter Sunday. The Baltimore Bridge Disaster. What if… 

Weekly Comments:  Easter Sunday. The Baltimore Bridge Disaster. What if… 

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore killed 6 workers who were filling potholes in the overnight hours. The six were immigrants from Central America. They had lived and worked and raised their families in Baltimore for many years.

You might be surprised how much construction and repair work is done on highways overnight when lanes can be blocked without major traffic interruptions.

Other bridges have collapsed with more loss of life. A ship hit a pier of the Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay in 1980, killing 35. In 2002, a barge hit a pier on an I-40 bridge in Oklahoma, killing 14 motorists.

The Silver Bridge across the Ohio River at Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia collapsed a few days before Christmas in 1967, killing 46 people. (Caused by a single corroded eyebar.) Somewhat ironically, a few minutes after I heard the News about the Key Bridge disaster, I drove across the replacement bridge from Ohio into West Virginia.

Beyond the tragic loss of life in Baltimore (which could have been far worse during the day), the financial cost of a closed harbor and rebuilding the bridge will likely be over a billion dollars. This raises a “What if” question. Why didn’t anyone ask a risk management question, “What if a really big boat hits a pier?” And “What can be done to make sure those piers are protected?”

In Tampa Bay, the piers of the new bridge are fully protected. Why didn’t Maryland officials notice that their Key Bridge, opened in 1977, needed similar protection?

I hope engineers and political leaders are asking questions about hundreds of vulnerable bridges across the country. Protective structures can be designed and installed. Do it in memory of those 6 workers, and all others who perished in bridge collapses. We have Billions left in the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Act. Can you think of a better purpose, including construction of the new Key Bridge?

Happy Easter. Like Will Rogers, I was born and raised a Methodist. And I’ve stayed one my whole life so far. On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Faith in life after death improves our life on Earth.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The Lord put all these millions of people over the earth… They all agree on one thing, whether Christian, Heathen, or Mohammedan, and that is that the better lives you live, the better you will finish.” WA#136, July 19, 1925

“Us ignorant people laugh at spiritualists, but when they die they go mighty peaceful and happy, which after all is about all there is to living, is to go away satisfied.” DT #1232, July 7, 1930

“If you live right, death is a Joke to you as far as fear is concerned…Death knows no Denomination. Death draws no color line.” WA #128, My 24, 1925


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