I wrote and lost a long post about this. Thankfully I don’t have to rewrite it because someone else has written it for me. Nick Coleman has an oped piece that speaks exactly to my point. His is called Gussets, public servants both let Minnesota down.
There was nothing “routine” about the bridge, including its inspections. It had so many problems that it was the most-inspected bridge in Minnesota and engineers were openly worried (according to a story in this paper Aug. 19) about the dangers of a collapse.
Inspections did find that many of the gussets were corroded and thinning, plus a host of other significant problems ranging from cracks and missing bolts to a tilted bridge pier and frozen expansion rollers.
The question isn’t whether the original designers were distracted by thoughts of Marilyn Monroe as they were planning the bridge.
The question is why wasn’t the bridge closed, or fixed, by those in charge now?
But the gussets are a godsend to officials who want the public to believe they had no idea the bridge was in jeopardy and there was nothing that could have been done about it.
The gusset plate problem means that there was too much weight on the bridge. The notion that it was impossible to determine that the bridge was unsafe is false. It’s possible and perhaps likely that under a Democratic governor, the same thing would have happened. But maybe not. The Republican ideology of starving the government of resources creates a system where the cheapest solution always wins.
Whether it was Pawlenty’s fault or not is not my main concern. But somewhere along the line our processes failed us. Pawlenty’s administration seems to be saying that nothing could have prevented this. I don’t buy it.