Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Bridge

Obviously a horrible day in the Twin Cities. A couple random thoughts regarding the bridge collapse in Minneapolis...

• It's hard to believe only 4 people died (as of now) during a rush hour disaster like that. There was even a full-sized school bus full of kids on the bridge! It's fortunate that the bridge was only 60 feet high and the river only 7-8 feet deep. I'm sure those are the two biggest positive contributing factors why this isn't much worse. That, and the fact it is summer.

• Anybody else see the film "The Mothman Prophecies?" Can't stop thinking about that.

• I'll go on record and say I have a mild fear of bridges. I used to commute over the Tappan Zee Bridge every day and would often imagine horrible collapse scenarios...and the TZ bridge is much higher, and over a deep and wide Hudson River.

On our regular bike route to the library, Ruby and I ride over a highway overpass on what basically seems to be some tacked-on pedestrian walk. It's a steel grate floor, so you see straight down to I-94. I always imagine that thing breaking off hurtling us onto the highway.

Ironically, one bridge that never frightened me was the Brooklyn Bridge. Driving or walking/biking. That span is well over a hundred years old, the pedestrain path also allows a view straight down to the river between the slats, but for some reason, on that one, I felt fine.

• Can somebody give me a good reason why it should take years to rebuld the span? I've seen anywhere from 3 to 5 years in various stories. I mean, they built the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges in less time than that, 75-80 years ago!

7 comments:

Toast said...

Anybody else see the film "The Mothman Prophecies?" Can't stop thinking about that.

Yes. That was a very cool movie.

I'll go on record and say I have a mild fear of bridges.

I love bridges. Love driving across them, biking across them, walking across them. They don't scare me in the slightest; indeed, they're magical to me. Favorites include the Brooklyn and Golden Gate, obviously, but also the Verrazano Narrows, Delaware Memorial (two bridges in one!), and both the Bourne and Sagamore.

but for some reason, on that one, I felt fine.

That's because, in the back of your mind, you must know it was designed by an RPI guy.

Can somebody give me a good reason why it should take years to rebuld the span?

Ha! I live in Connecticut. I remember it once took CTDOT over three years to repair a tiny 15' span over a creek on a two-lane stretch of Rt. 7, just south of Canaan. If, say, the bridge over the Connecticut River on I-84 collapsed, they'd probably just throw in the towel and institute ferry service.

Mr Furious said...

"I love bridges. Love driving across them, biking across them, walking across them. "

Yeah. I have that perverse fear/love thing happening. I am fascinated by bridges myself. It might be more accurate to say I have a paranoid need to imagine a structural failure on whatever thing is holding me in the air. Hence the amusement park issue as well. Planes, elevators, tunnels, etc.

I am by no means paralyzed by this stuff—When I lived in NYC I obviously encountered most of those, plus tall buildings on a daily basis. My studio/office was on the top (11th) floor of an old warehouse and I had to ride up in an old cage elevator, and look down on the Brooklyn Bridge. Never a moment's pause... But, at the same time I might be in awe by a particular bridge or whatever, I just run through a scenario in my head of what I would do if "X" happened.

Favorite bridges? Brooklyn, (actually many of the NYC bridges:GWB, Verrazano, Manhattan, Queensboro—minus the shitcan Williamsburg) Golden Gate. I really appreciate the sheer height achieved over a short span on the Bourne/Sagamore Bridges. Nice views as well...

Bridges I've never crossed or seen in person? The new Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston looks cool, and the Le Viaduc de Millau in France.

Mr Furious said...

Can somebody give me a good reason why it should take years to rebuld the span?

I can see the delay involved in repairing an existing bridge, and working with the fact that it is in use as well. But that bridge in Minneapolis is effectively demolished and you are strating from scratch, without having to accomodate traffic while you replace it. Seems that could be done more quickly...

fridge said...

Can somebody give me a good reason why it should take years to rebuld the span?

Probably because there was no current plan in place to do so. It takes a lot of time to get all the requirements together, get all the civil engineering done, determine everything that has to be done to the current site to a) get rid of the existing bridge and b) prepare the site for a new bridge. Then there's the bidding process, etc, etc.

Plus, I'd imagine they'll be pretty careful with the new bridge considering they didn't do so well with the last one.

Mr Furious said...

I hear ya Fridge, and I know bridges aren't exactly stocked in a warehouse somewhere, but that seems like as "plug and play" a situation as can be.

That's more of an overpass than any grand geological challenge. It seems to me there must be several standard solutions that could be somewhat readily adaptable to that particular location.

In any case, once they break ground, it should, in my throughly uninformd opinion, take a year to build. Max.

S.W. Anderson said...

When I was 11, my mom and I returned home from a visit to the deep South aboard the Southerner (passenger train), right to the center of Manhattan. It was an overnight journey.

On awaking shortly after daybreak, I looked out the window with fright and fascination. All I could see below and beside us was water — miles of water — with large banks of fog drifting along its surface in places, and whisps rising eerily in other places. At times, we went through fog banks, some bright white and others dark gray, and I couldn't see anything but fog. In clearer areas, I could only see the fog banks, water and clear blue sky. No land and no vegetation anywhere. Yet we were obviously riding along something solid.

It was like a scene out of a "Twilight Zone" script.

In time, the train entered a long curve. Looking back, I saw it was on a trestle, one that seemed to go on forever. I later learned I had awakened as we were traversing the Tidewater Region of Eastern Virginia.

That beautiful, eerie, scary experience was decades ago, but I can recall it as though it was last week.

S.W. Anderson said...

A major, century-old bridge in my town that's a historic landmark was rebuilt/restored a few years ago. It took the better part of three years.

I think one reason for the seemingly long time is that the outfits that do this work dovetail projects so as to get maximum use of their people and equipment. I expect they tell clients dovetailing, which can result in periods where little or nothing is getting done, helps keep the price down.