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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Roads and Bridges . . . and boats?



By now most people have seen the dramatic photos of the bridge collapse in Washington State. It's certainly something to think about while driving.

Thinking back, there's a least three major bridges that I've driven over that later collapsed. Two suffered structural failure. One was struck by a ship. Lucky for me, these failures happened while I wasn't on them. That doesn't make me particularly special, as many thousands of people cross questionable bridges every day.

There are a lot of bridges in the US that are well past their prime. Repairs get put off to some mystical future date when the economy is better. All to often that day never arrives, at least as far as bridge work goes. Basic maintenance is put off until small problems become huge problems. “Temporary” repairs become the only repairs.

While it's attention grabbing when a big bridge goes down, most people soon forget about it. That is, unless you happen to be one of the unlucky ones who's now isolated on the wrong side of the bridge. Short commutes become very long or impossible. Think about all the bridges you cross on a regular basis. Now imagine they are gone. How would your life be affected?

One place I love to go is the Florida Keys. It's a long series of islands connected by many bridges. There's a pretty high population density on those little islands. I always wonder what would happen if something destroyed one of those bridges. Imagine if a hurricane, earthquake, or terrorist event destroyed a number of the bridges at the same time. Not only would all those people be stranded, the one water pipeline that supplies the Keys is on the bridges.

I don't feel comfortable down there unless I'm on a boat or have one with me. I know a guy who worked on a island in the Northwest who kept a canoe on his work truck. It's an earthquake area and he didn't want to be stuck on the island.

If bridges are a big part of your life, maybe keeping a small boat with you might be a good idea. Perhaps even an inflatable in the truck of your car might be prudent. Bug out vehicles are nice, but if the bridge is out, you'll need a plan B.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. Makes sense. I think I'll just stay here on the ridge!

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    1. Good idea, as long as you don't have to go anywhere.

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  2. I'm with Gorges. Staying on the high ground, if I ever get off the Texas coastal area!

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    1. Pretty low where you are now. Heading for the hill country?

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  3. Tanks that the Army does not want and an F35 that is a known piece of crap yet not one dime towards infrastructure that is sorely needed.
    We are so screwed in our country...

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    1. Indeed we are. Think of all the people who could be put to work doing the stuff that needs to be done.

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  4. They are still repairing some of the country bridges here after Sandy hit last year. And they only go over little creeks...

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    1. VT hasn't squared away everything since Irene. Don't hold your breath. Now imagine if another storm takes them out again. How many will get repaired then?

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  5. The ridges here just got a gully washer yesterday. have no idea how many bridges and roads were affected.
    Linn Run State Park, Laurel Summit State Park, Laurel Mountain State Park, Kooser State Park, Forbes State Forest, Laural Ridge State Park are among the areas affected. I would have liked to seen Linn run as the creek over flows the road about every other rain storm. You can sit on a cabin porch and watch the bridges wash out , then all the cars wash past... It was so bad I used to chain my jeep up between two large trees, so I would know where to find it after the rain.

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    1. That is bad. When you've got to chain your vehicle down, that's very bad.

      This is the second day of non stop rain here, so water's high.

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