May 23, 2013

A bridge classified as structurally deficient in 2011 on Interstate 5 crossing the Skagit River has collapsed, throwing drivers and cars into the water below.


Part of a four-lane freeway bridge over the Skagit River in Washington state collapsed on Thursday, sending vehicles and people into the water below, authorities said.

The collapse on Interstate 5 took out the northbound and southbound sides of the span and occurred at about 7 p.m. local time in Mount Vernon, 55 miles north of Seattle, Washington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Mark Francis said.

"I've got reports of vehicles and people in the water," Francis said. He added that he did not know if anyone was injured.

Every single news report says the cause is unknown. I don't really think one needs to be a brain surgeon to check the definition of "structurally unsound." According to Washington's own list of structurally unsound bridges, it means the "bridge requires repair or replacement of a certain component, such as cracked or spalled concrete or the entire bridge itself." Of course, that same definition contains a disclaimer that there is no imminent danger of collapse. Sure there's not. Just look at that picture and tell me what you think.

Does anyone here remember the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama in 2011? The one he introduced while standing in front of a bridge in Ohio that was also structurally deficient? The American Jobs Act that Senate Republicans killed with glee and great pride? That one?

You think maybe if they had taken it seriously instead of playing gotcha politics those people wouldn't be in the water right now?

Is it too soon to ask which Republicans will not only be fired, but go to jail for injuries and or deaths caused by their inattention to our infrastructure? Not for me, it's not.

Update 1: I tried to add video of the Washington DOT spokesman reacting, but the embed seems not to work. Here is the link.

Update 2: Let's also not forget what Republicans wanted in exchange for a transportation bill. Oil company incentives for infrastructure!

Update 3: According to the AP there are 759 bridges in Washington State that are more severely deficient than this one.

Also, this somewhat bizarre report of a guy praying on the bank in front of the bridge and then taking photos of the collapse:

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