30 May 2015

Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure

American politicians and businessmen give lip service to "infrastructure" improvement, but always defer the funding to their successors.  That's why things like this happen.
A timber rail bridge burned and collapsed early Wednesday in Koochiching County, tipping two rail cars onto the banks of the Rat Root River and temporarily blocking a Canadian National rail artery that connects the Pacific Coast with Chicago... The route has made Ranier, Minn., just east of International Falls, one of the busiest rail crossings on the U.S.-Canada border.

The bridge across the Rainy River from Fort Frances, Ontario, to Ranier was built in 1907 and had long been a quiet crossing. But now it carries more than 20 trains a day that are up to two miles long, said Dennis Wagner, mayor of Ranier...

What happens when this other bridge that’s 120 years old collapses? Oh! Imagine that. And then it fills the whole Rainy River full of oil and gas,” he said. “Rail safety and bridge safety has been an issue of major concern around here.”
As Chevy Chase used to say when he anchored the news on Saturday Night Live, "let me repeat that for the hard of hearing" - WE ARE TRANSPORTING DANGEROUS MATERIALS OVER HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD WOODEN BRIDGES.

Please reblog this.


  1. Really scary. But don't you know that rebuilding our infrastructure is just Big Government? Not being responsible, oh, heavens no. I worry for my grandchildren--we are creating such a mess, they may not be able to sort it out ever.

  2. Won't new bridges also burn? Maybe it is wooden bridges that are dangerous, not old ones.

  3. Here's a steel bridge that collapsed due to a fire. Its collapse blocked two freeways that are the main artery into San Francisco from the East Bay: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Tanker-fire-destroys-part-of-MacArthur-Maze-2-2575285.php

    There's nothing wrong with wooden bridges if they're maintained. As far as I can tell, the worry about American Infrastructure is due to my profession's lobbying group (the execrable American Society of Civil Engineers) trying to drum up business for (wait for it) civil engineers. Almost all of the "structurally deficient" bridges you've heard so much about are structurally deficient because they were designed such that one component failing can cause the entire bridge to fail. Do you really want to spend billions of dollars to replace those, perfectly serviceable, and safe by the standards of the day in which they were designed, bridges? The positive train control being implemented now will cost billions of dollars and save 1 or 2 lives a year (on average) - does that make any sense (considering that spending the money on Head Start or any of a hundred other things would save many more lives)? I have personally worked on $200 million pork barrel projects to straighten out highways in the middle of no where that were done for the benefit of the contractors and several hundred cars per day saving three minutes. And don't get me started on the palaces being built to usher people onto Southwest Airlines flights.

  4. Not sure if you blogged this yet, but John Oliver did a great show on this topic:


  5. Maybe we should build a pipe line.... Just saying....


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