In the aftermath of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, it’s interesting to see all the representatives and Governors clamoring to have their bridges inspected (which is already done in most cases) and repaired. Pointing fingers at the Feds, you know, because they couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the negligence.
As the inspection reports come out into the sunshine, you know what we’ll find. Some large percentage of our bridges (like our roads in some cases) are in bad shape, some as or more dangerous than the bridge in Minneapolis. Others are in great shape and will last another 30 years. You know, kinda like the levees in New Orleans.
And some local elected poobah will blame the current administration, or maybe even the last one (whoever is in the opposite party from them, of course), because their bridges are in terrible shape and they want them fixed right now.
This will be the same elected poobah who pushed that bridge report into the file cabinet because it wasn’t worthy of attention when it crossed his or her desk.
Posturing: Making a fuss out of something really important that you ignored before it became news. It grows politicians 12 ways, just like Wonder Bread.
Want to get the attention of the officials responsible for getting your local bridge repaired?
Pull out the last report that the engineers wrote about each bridge in your area.
Put a temporary sign up on each end of the bridge noting its ranking and danger level. Make it large enough to read at 70mph. Make it simple enough that Homer Simpson would understand its meaning. Use cute icons or color codes like Homeland Security does, if you wish.
Include a URL on the side so motorists know where to get a full report on the bridge’s condition as of the last inspection.
This doesn’t have to be a $75,000 highway sign. A simple sign from the local SignMasters (or whatever) will do the trick.
Add an addendum to the report, indicating the official votes of each elected official or committee member regarding repair or replacement of the bridge in the last 5 years. Keep it up to date as time passes.
Print a summary of the report on the bags at the local grocery store. You know, just in case mom has to cross that bridge to take the kiddies and the Captain Crunch back home.
Put the bridge engineering report on the web and in the newspaper. Provide a plain English translation that Homer would understand – include a video on YouTube showing the damage found during the last inspection.
Pass it on to the press. Be sure they are aware of every little tidbit.
If the bridge happens to be one noted as dangerous or substandard for its current load, close it. Do it right now, you know, like you would be expected to do if it was a “big corporate bridge with windfall profits” and your legal team was watching cars drive on it as it shook.
After each inspection report comes out, throw a party on the bridge. Invite everyone who has ever voted against maintenance and upkeep on it. Be sure that everyone parks their car on the bridge. Perhaps bring in some heavy equipment to show off on the bridge. You could even use the bucket of a frontloader as a big cooler for drinks.
Think about it as you cross the bridge later today.