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Focusing on What's Important
Author: BobR    Date: 03/27/2024 13:14:07

Yesterday, we all awoke to the incredible destruction of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore. It was a spectacular reminder of just how fragile and important our infrastructure is. After decades of shipping in and out of the Port of Baltimore with nary an incident, all it took was a power failure on a partially loaded container ship to throw a huge wrench into the works.

I am sure we're all familiar with the details... The harbor pilot was guiding the ship when it lost power. He radioed a "mayday", which allowed the DOT enough time to close off the bridge so no cars were on it when the accident occurred.

However, there were 8 DOT workers patching potholes (at 1:30 AM, of course). Of the eight, two were rescued; the other 6 are missing and - at this point - likely dead.

There's been some speculation about whether or not upgrades to the bridge structure would have helped. After a similar event happened to the Sunshine Skyway bridge connecting Tampa and Bradenton in Florida, the pillars were reinforced with sloped concrete abutments to slow/redirect any off-course ships. In this case, however, this wasn't a glancing blow - the Dali plowed directly into one of the supports for the bridge. Even a reinforced concrete abutment likely wouldn't have held up to the massive mass and inertia it would have had to absorb and deflect.

The loss of the bridge is tragic for the loss of life. Beyond that, it is an enormous blow to the economy of Baltimore, of Maryland, and of the U.S. Anyone who's driven through the eastern side of Baltimore has seen the massive container yards, the acres of new cars. Most people not familiar with the area don't realize what an important shipping port Baltimore actually is. Until the debris from the bridge can be cleared, incoming ships will have to divert to other east coast ports. Until the channel is cleared, all of the goods on the docks in Baltimore scheduled to be shipped out will have to sit there.

For those in the DMV (that's "DC, Maryland, Virginia" to the uninitiated - not the Dept of Motor Vehicles), the loss of one of the 3 automotive routes over/under the bay will create havoc for their daily commutes, or for those passing through. Trucks carrying hazardous materials are not allowed in the tunnels, so they'll have to go around the west side on the beltway. Beltway and tunnel traffic will have to absorb the extra traffic.

Even though investment in infrastructure and repairing bridges may not have mattered in this case, it does illustrate just how important maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure is. As Joni Mitchell wrote, "you don't know what you got 'till it's gone". We are all guilty of taking our infrastructure for granted - until a part of it breaks.

Republicans think the greatest threat to our country is immigrants, specifically from the southern nations of our continents. Yet it's disruptions to our lives and livelihoods like the loss of a bridge on a major route that creates way more problems, financially and logistically. At the risk of being tacky for using this tragedy as a springboard to a political message, we need to ensure Democrats are in charge as much as possible, because they will focus on important legislation to ensure the soundness of our infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Republicans focus on what they think is important, like outlawing "chemtrails".

3 comments (Latest Comment: 03/27/2024 16:10:52 by Will_in_Ca)
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