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View Diary: MN knew the bridge could collapse (256 comments)

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  •  Actually, states matching funds have gone (3+ / 0-)

    way up in the past 15 years.  It used to be 80% federal and 20% state, but I think the ratio has been shifted to something more along the lines of 40% federal and 60% state.  So the pressure on the states is much greater these days to chip in.  However, it should not have been a problem for Pawlenty to get Norm Coleman to get an earmark for that bridge in 2005 that could have reduced Minnesota's burden, but these club for growth nuts don't think that way unless the earmark offers some graft and opportunity for corruption.

    •  2005? (0+ / 0-)

      The meeting in question, where dangers were (afaik) first openly discussed, was December 6, 2006.  There simply would not have been time to even pass and earmark the funds, much less build a whole new bridge.  If they'd decided to condemn the bridge that day, we'd still be working out plans for its replacement right now.

      There's a lot of inverted dates in the hysteria around here.

      "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

      by Leggy Starlitz on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 02:51:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The bridge was tagged in 2004 and 2005 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, SacredCowTipper

        for attention.

        •  and that's what the meeting was for (0+ / 0-)

          They were discussing plans and soliciting bids for repair.  

          Again, if they had believed the bridge was in imminent danger, they would have condemned it.  THAT would have prompted some legislative action.  But their actions suggest they were worried about making sure it lasted until 2020, not 2008.

          "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

          by Leggy Starlitz on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 02:55:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So you're okay with the fact that it took them (7+ / 0-)

            two years to hold a procurement meeting for a project that they were going to delay starting until 2012 when they had information that said that the bridge might collapse?

            I don't mean to be mean here - really I don't - but I think you are being politically naive.  That 2020 date was established based on political considerations not on the pure and simple engineering questions that were raised by the succession of reports and findings on the bridge's integrity.  The fact that they chose to resurface the bridge rather than invest that money into further investigating the structural integrity and or providing additional structural reinforcements supports the notion that much of the decision-making was politically driven - voters don't like pot holes.

            •  keep in mind (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe Bob, Paver

              Many thousands of bridges, including many in Minnesota, received worse ratings with regard to structural integrity.  Yet bridges very, very rarely fall down.  

              I'm not being politically naive... on the contrary, I think the complainers here are being engineeringly (is that a word?) naive.  Things wear out, but that shouldn't cause a panic.  The repairs under discussion were to extend the working life of what was apparently a still-sound bridge.  

              Hell, my worn-out car is a bigger danger to me than that bridge was, and I drove over it at least weekly.  But I'm not ditching the car and buying something shiny and new just to slightly reduce the chances of structural failure.

              "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

              by Leggy Starlitz on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 04:23:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here is the problem... (7+ / 0-)

                That isn't just any old bridge in Minnesota and you know that much better than I do.

                I am not involved in some sort of dkos "plot" to place political blame just for the sake of it.  I studied urban planning as a minor in college.  I am drawing upon academic study in urban and suburban growth.  When that bridge was built, it was built for far less traffic than 144,000 vehicles daily.  It was built during a time when we had a much more diverse transportation grid which included trains and buses and far fewer trucks.  In the 60's the trucking industry was taking off, but the rail system still carried a much more significant portion of our freight.  A lot of people still rode both municipal and interstate buses.

                It is common sense that that bridge would need attention at some point and that the additional attract of a brand spanking new baseball stadium would further increase the bridge's importance - and that common sense applies to a bridge that might have been found to be in perfect condition because the daily load had changed dramatically since it was built.  This bridge was not given a clean bill of health and still they planned to delay structural reinforcements until 2020?  No sorry, that is crazy.

                The city planning favored private growth and totally ignored public infrastructure to support that growth.  That is typical conservative philosophy in action.  Here's an idea... maybe we should get back to government funding the public infrastructure and allowing the private concerns to capitalize themselves.  We'll build the roads and they can build their for-profit stadia.  Right now the government seems to be doing both and neglecting the public trust in favor of the private concerns.

                •  GREAT SUMMANTION, ICH!!! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  inclusiveheart

                  The city planning favored private growth and totally ignored public infrastructure to support that growth.  That is typical conservative philosophy in action.  Here's an idea... maybe we should get back to government funding the public infrastructure and allowing the private concerns to capitalize themselves.  We'll build the roads and they can build their for-profit stadia.  Right now the government seems to be doing both and neglecting the public trust in favor of the private concerns.

                  Wish I could rec this more!!  

                  Our priorities are so screwed up, so corrupted.  All the PUBLIC money for PRIVATE concerns, less and less for the PUBLIC!!  Why is that so hard for people to get a clue on?!?  This conservative/libertarian YOYO (You're On Your Own) ideology is poison to civil society and a better life for all. No other interpretation is possible when you look at not only the facts, but the results!

                  The meek shall inherit the earth.... six feet under!! Liberals and progressives, stop being meek!

                  by FightTheFuture on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:51:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  you're making false assumptions (0+ / 0-)

                  No, they weren't putting off structural reinforcement to 2020.  The bridge was slated for replacement by 2020.  The reinforcements were to keep it from needing to be replaced earlier.  And the 2020 date was earlier than the original planned lifetime for the bridge - believe it or not, the professional engineers responsible for the bridge were well aware that it was seeing traffic higher than the original plans.  

                  Oh, and I imagine building a new Twins stadium would have had little effect on traffic over the 35W bridge - wrong end of downtown.  Traffic coming from the north would probably take the 694 bridge to 94 to get to the new stadium.  If anything, it would REDUCE traffic because the Twins would no longer be playing in the Metrodome.  But that's the sort of assumption/error people who don't live here are making.

                  As for city planning being "typical conservative philosophy"... Minneapolis has one of the most progressive city governments in the country.  The "conservative philosophy" city government you decry browbeat the governor into putting light rail lanes onto the new bridge.  That being said, the bridge itself is largely a federal issue, not "city planning".

                  Your background in urban planning does you little good when your theories are riddled with false assumptions. And as for the DKos "plot"... I guarantee you, if we'd had a Democratic governor, we would not have seen even a fraction of the blame game being played here.

                  "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

                  by Leggy Starlitz on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:29:21 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  And if they decided to condemn the bridge that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newfie53523, sgary

        .........day maybe 12 people would still be alive.

        I think Leggy Starlitz is desperate for accountability to be placed somewhere far, far, far from the Republican no-new taxes philosophy that guided this state for the last decade.

        •  So where was (0+ / 0-)

          Bill Clinton?

          (snark)

          Capt. Spaulding: "How happy I could be with either of these two if both of them just went away."

          by ratador on Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 05:23:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the bridge fell (0+ / 0-)

            ...because fat ol' Bill Clinton sat on it! (just channeling Rush there.  Since I'm going to be accused of being a Republican plant for not joining the groupthink here, I might as well make Republican jokes!)

            "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

            by Leggy Starlitz on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:41:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, Jesus H Christ! (0+ / 0-)

          So the reason I'm defending the decision the engineers made is because, and I quote, I am "desperate for accountability to be placed somewhere far, far, far from the Republican no-new taxes philosophy"?

          Do you know the least damned thing about me?  Do you have any idea where I stand on, say, taxes?  Or what work I've done for the DFL here?

          I think you owe me an apology.  That was shameful.

          "I want to be taken seriously as an artist."

          by Leggy Starlitz on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 08:40:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If condemmed, people would be alive. But, they (0+ / 0-)

        didn't... why?  Could the dearth of funds to pursue alternates be a major cause?  The lack of funds available for society in general, although unlimited for MIC, Death, Destruction, Corporate Welfare, etc. be a major cause?    

        "computer says... yeah!"

        Take of the blinders, Leggy, this is just another pigeon, too heavy for a bridge, coming home to roost!

        The meek shall inherit the earth.... six feet under!! Liberals and progressives, stop being meek!

        by FightTheFuture on Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 06:45:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think I remember Minnesota documents showing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      inclusiveheart, Leggy Starlitz

      90% fed and 10% state for this bridge, perhaps because it was an element of the interstate system?

      Your 40-60 numbers might apply to overall numbers for all classes of bridges? I certainly don't know the details on the funding issue.

      Nerdy details: we remember that the sufficiency rating for Bridge 9340 was 50.0% At SR = 50.0%, Bridge 9340 qualified for federal repair/rehab funding.

      https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/...

      The Impact of Load Rating Methods on Federal Bridge Program Funding
      FHWA May 2005 (revised February 2006)
      Attachment 2: Basic method for determining if a structure is deficient.
      Non-Regulatory Supplement for subpart 650, subpart D

      HIGHWAY BRIDGE REPLACEMENT AND REHABILITATION PROGRAM (23 CFR 650.409). The National Bridge Inventory will be used for preparing the selection list of bridges both on and off of Federal-aid highways. Highway bridges considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and with a sufficiency rating of 80 or less will be used for the selection list. Those bridges appearing on the list with a sufficiency rating of less than 50.0 will be eligible for replacement or rehabilitation while those with a sufficiency rating of 80.0 or less will be eligible for rehabilitation. To be considered for the classification of deficient bridge, a structure must be of bridge length, and had not been constructed or had major reconstruction within the past 10 years.

      Would the bridge have qualified for replacement funding at SR = 49.9%?

      Is that the difference between life and death these days?

      •  90-10 was the original deal in the 50's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        count

        Then it went to 80-20 and in the last decade it went to something more like 40-60.  The burden on roads and infrastructure has been moved more and more into the states' column - just like with Medicaid and other federal programs.

        •  Please substantiate that. (0+ / 0-)

          Meanwhile, I'll try to find the Minnesota spreadsheet that shows 90-10.

          I wonder if that bridge qualified for 90-10 because of when it was built.

        •  I hate the new archive search. (0+ / 0-)

          Anyway, here's the spreadsheet.

          On the Metro page, the first project is Bridge 9340. FWHA money is 90%.

          Second project, big project, FWHA money is less than 2%. I don't know what AC means, the source of most of the funding.

          Third project, a park-and-ride lot, FWHA money is 100%.

          What does this all mean? Durned if I know.

          •  AC (0+ / 0-)

            AC is Advance Construction, also federal money.

          •  Your link doesn't work. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            count

            So I don't know what you're looking at.

            If you are looking at an earmark for new construction it is entirely possible that things are funded at 90% or better.  Also the 135w bridge was probably funded at 90-10 when it was built in the 60's because that was the original mandate for the interstate system.  Keep in mind that you want to be looking at the interstate system funding because it is a federal not a state road system.

            Here is a wiki link for an overview of the history of the program:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            The rest of my information comes from about 15-20 different articles that I read shortly after the bridge collapsed.

            •  The link worked when I wrote the comment. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart

              I checked it then, but it isn't working now for me either. I hope this is only temporary.

              No, not new construction, except possibly for the park-and-ride, which was only a few hundred thousand dollars.

              The first project was Bridge 9340, about $3 million, I think. Second project was for a different job on I35 in the Metro area, about $242 million (I think), resurfacing and such.

              I'll try to birddog the link.

              Haven't read the wiki yet.

            •  quick, quick, quick! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart

              (The link is working now.)

            •  The wiki (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart, Leggy Starlitz

              says nothing about state/federal funding ratios.

              I was interested to learn, however, that so much funding came from federal general funds. I didn't know that - is it way past time to increase the federal gasoline/diesel tax?

              •  There is a reference under financing: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                count

                About 56%[6] of the construction and maintenance costs are funded through user fees, primarily gasoline taxes, collected by states and the federal government, and tolls collected on toll roads and bridges. The rest of the costs are borne by the federal budget.

                I'd have to dig through comments from weeks ago to find some the articles and references and hope that I linked to them at the time.  But this has been a policy issue for quite some time now.  It is a broader issue affecting many aspects of the federal-state financial relationship.  From what I could gather from reading the articles, the aggregate contribution from the Feds has been in decline for fifteen years.  There has been a lot of gamesmanship in how matching funds have been determined as well.  The Woodrow Wilson Bridge (major connector on I95) was just replaced here in the DC metro area and there was quite a bit of weirdness in the negotiations between the federal government and MD and VA.  I was trying to research that history yesterday, but I really didn't have time to track through the years and years of articles to pull together a case study.

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