Perhaps some attention will finally be paid to our national infrastructure, specifically bridges.
Ever since the 2007 collapse of an interstate highway spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Illinois officials have kept quiet about the deteriorating condition of many bridges here, citing security concerns in an era of terrorist threats.
Now we’re finally getting a peek at what risks may be lurking under or within Illinois bridges. Newly released inspection data reveal some details about what’s specifically wrong with many of the state’s deficient bridges, and thus what rehab work is required to keep them safe. Notably, part of the Congress Parkway bridge over the Chicago River received the lowest possible rating for a span allowed to remain in service.
[Click to continue reading Bridge safety: Illinois puts inspection summaries online — chicagotribune.com]
Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration wouldn’t let the public look at the data, citing terrorism or some such twaddle. A lame excuse, if one was looking for a weak bridge, a simple glance at the rusting decay of nearly any of Chicago’s bridges would be sufficient. I mean, they are in horrible shape1 and we’re lucky none have collapsed during the years that Mayor Daley single-mindedly pursued the 2016 Olympics.
Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Tribune and public watchdog groups seeking inspection records were rejected, leaving interested parties no options except to wade through outdated inspection summaries the state provided to the Federal Highway Administration.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration cited homeland security concerns, saying terrorists could potentially use the information to blow up major bridges in Chicago that carry thousands of vehicles each day, including the Congress Parkway bridge feeding traffic onto the Eisenhower Expressway ( Interstate Highway 290) or the double-deck Wacker Drive winding through downtown.
Critics countered that the governor and the Illinois Department of Transportation had a different motive: Hiding the truth about the dismal condition of some bridges.
Now, for the first time, information summarizing inspection findings is available. It can be viewed online, at http://wrc.dot.il.gov/bridgeinformation/main.aspx
What function does the government really have? Isn’t maintenance of commonly-used infrastructure high on the list?
Since I was looking, here are a few snapshots of other Chicago area bridges that look like they need at least a little attention:
- of course I am not a Civic Engineer, but I recognize rust when I see it [↩]