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August 02, 2007

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A tragic event. For those not personally involved it is one one the many tragic events that take place continually. A personal loss is not involved, and we cannot really have a sense of the distress of those personally affected. If lax supervision was at fault, those responsible should be held to account.

"Would you have run to the bus?" Yes, if past experience is anything to go by. One very bad day in Africa I rushed into the smoldering remains of a shack to save a woman, out of her mind with grief, who had set it on fire and then fallen back into the ashes on a white hot metal bed frame. She had 3rd degree burns; I was merely singed. At the time I didn't think; I reacted. It was just what needed to be done.

When I heard of the Minneapolis-St. Paul disaster, I flashed back to the Mianus River Bridge collapse in Cos Cob, Connecticut, back in June, 1983. That collapse, on a heavily traveled section of I-95, took place at 1:30 am, resulting in a much smaller death toll than if it had occurred during evening rush hour as in Minneapolis. (Of course, if you're one of the unfortunates who gets killed, the only death toll figure that matters is yours, alas!)

We moved to Connecticut three years later, and I always felt a chill when driving over that bridge. There are few things more ghastly than bridge collapses when left to roam unfettered in the imagination.

The subject of the bridge's collapse came up this morning as we were driving into D.C. from Fredericksburg, VA over the 14th Street bridge - which spans the Potomac which I love to see from ANY and ALL vantage points. This is, we think we remember, the bridge into which a plane crashed several years ago so we feel safe because it has been inspected and repaired within the recent past. Thoughts then turned to the worst bridge beloved Linda has ever been on (contrarian that I am, I LIKE this bridge) and that's the San Mateo bridge in Northern California which span is incredibly close to the water for incredible amounts of time and which is also the LONGEST bridge on which I've ever driven!

One of my blogging friends is a taxi driver in Mpls-St. Paul and we were all worried about him (his name is Paul) until we heard from him the morning after. He has posted some photographs which he took the next day.

The original San Mateo bridge was built in 1929, and upon completion was the longest bridge in the world. It was subsequently replaced with a modern span in 1967. The total length of the bridge is 7 miles. It is composed of multiple steel girder spans that make up the high rise, measuring 1.9 of the total 7 miles. The other segment is made up of the Trestle portion, accounting for the remaining 5.1 miles. It is currently under extensive seismic retrofitting to withstand a powerful earthquake. The bridge carries about 93,000 cars and other vehicles each day and it spans from Foster City (a city built entirely on LANDFILL) to Hayward, California.

h/t Wikipedia

very sad indeed...

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