Baseball91's Weblog

November 15, 2008

Playing Bridge

Since 1993, according to the news in July 2008, 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,” a collapse could have occurred at any time. No one picked up in July the reference to the half-inch gusset plate? How thick was a half of a half-inch? Res ipsa locquiter.

Bigger, stronger, faster. Vehicles. Athletes. Government.

In American society, government did not design and build bridges. But government did disperse money to see that projects were done. Then government tried to maintain the past, including all that government money had paid to build.



Now I would not recognize a gusset plate if I ever saw one.  I would not like to believe that for 40 years, people were not just going through the motions in their work.  How could you inspect a bridge over 40 years and not see the original design flaw of the gusset plates, which the NTSB found were too undersized to hold the bridge’s steel beams together?  People elected and appointed feared political motives in these times which would seek blame for what happened.  When you were a public servant there should be a certain amount of fear to motivate you to do a good job. 


Even if we lived in a monarchy, the question this morning should be the same.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on July 29, 2008 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.”  If it had gone unfixed for 15 years, how could the design flaw itself have been missed in the first place?  No one at the time was publicly talking about the particular gusset plate critically fractured, that its width always was half as large as it should have been.  How much time did it take for the NTSB to determine that a gusset plate that was half the size it should have been had lost half of its thickness due to corrosion?  The reports had been filed since 1993, according to the news in July 2008.  In some spots.  Due to corrosion.


The gun was smoking.  All along.  In these state bridge inspectors’ reports.  Would not an inspector inspecting have seen that the gusset plate was half of its size if they were trained in their profession?  Bridge innpectors were not just professional photographers?  What standards were not applied by the human resource department of the state in hiring people at MN-DOT. 

In my past experience, I have found the one MN-DOT official I dealt with arbitrary and capricious.  One of their lawyers who had placed a lien on a man’s income because his vehicle was one of many who had struck a highway barricade.   MN-Dot wanted this guy to pay for the replacement of the barricade, no matter what prior damage had been done.  And a law was cited, without a question of due process.  The state got the money immediately, without the chance to determine fairness.  I found a behavior displayed of someone just going through the motions.  Their is not a lot of fairness any more either in politics or government.  How could an attorney  working for the state overlook a rather important issue of due process.  MN-DOT had already placed on lien on this guy and had their money.  I am sure that over the past 8 years that he has continued to go about his work, much like that unfixed gusset plate discovered 15 years ago, without ever considering the purpose, his purpose, or what it was that gusset plate was being asked to do.  When something had worked for 15 years, or 40 years, no one seemed to focus on design flaws. 



Res ipsa locquiter.  If it had worked for 25 years, the design was never in question, it spoke for itself.  The corrosion did not do it, the NTSB  concluded? 


In Minnesota, government did not design and build bridges but tried to maintain the past, a past that once was supposed to include due process.   With this report, no one ever considered the corrosion of the process.  Of government or the elected leaders. 

Bigger.  Stronger.  Faster. 


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