Baseball91's Weblog

July 30, 2008


My favorite book written in the last 50 years is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron.  The underlying theme was in a story when you don’t have money, opportunity or real freedom.  Those were questions the modern Americans did not really have to consider.  OR did they?

Friday is the anniversary of a bridge collapse.  The investigation continues as to why this happen.  More and more the collapse seems to have been the result of government officials who found one particular gusset plate critically fractured that reportedly was there for more than 14 years.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported yesterday that one gusset plate connection had “fractured partially along a line of corrosion that had gone unfixed by state transportation officials since at least 1993,” according to evidence released this week by National Transportation Safety Board.   

Employees with the Minnesota Department of Transportation had to come to grips with decisions about which bridge to repair.  And when human life was involved, these were moral decisions that state bridge inspectors faced every day.  After the “state bridge inspector found that the half-inch gusset plate at L-11 East had lost nearly half of its thickness in some spots due to corrosion along an 18-inch line, no repairs were ever ordered.”  So since 1993 that collapse could have occurred at any time. 

Bridge inspectors did not determine how much money was in their budget this year.  When you had no control over the budget, how much real choice was there?  On the show “Law & Order,” would the prosecutor be mulling an indictment against the individuals who had failed to protect the public?  Private contractors were held legally responsible.  How about individual government employees?  Did this involve legislators? 

The legislature enacted legislation after this happened, increasing the state’s limit of liability on accidents involving this particular bridge.  I did not follow the story enough to know if the new law was broad enough to involve all state bridges.  If this had not been an inter-state bridge, if no one had died, how would the developments of the story be different? 

The state did have money, opportunity and seemingly real freedom, even if many of the people lost had not over the circumstances on how their lives ended.  For the most part, Minnesotans were discovering though time what really happened.  If this had happened in 2010 there might not have been a local newspaper that survived to cover this story. 

In Sophie’s Choice, Sophie had to choose which of her two children to save.  It was a man-made choice.  In Minneapolis–St. Paul, we had two papers that were both on the verge of collapse running out of money and opportunity.   When you ran out of money, the choices were lmited.  No one was  discussing the affect on the community with the loss of real freedom when they were gone.   


1 Comment »

  1. mstrong>


    Comment by baseball91 — July 30, 2017 @ 12:16 PM | Reply

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