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Part II of a series of diaries, more below.

My first diary explored/exposed the nonsensical and absurd "report" recently released by the federal NTSB regarding the collapse of the I-35 bridge. I continue to stand by my take that structural calculations done for the two bridge renovations done prior to the third renovation underway when the collapse occured would provide evidence that the structural capacity of the bridge was exceeded, possibly by the second renovation, and almost certainly by the stacking of construction materials on the end of the bridge prior to the collapse.

I also believe there is some sort of cover up going on here by the state of Minnesota to protect the current governor and/or the contractor(s) responsible for the work on the third renovation.

This past Thursday, Feb. 28 Lieutenent Governor and Commissioner of Transportation Carol Molnau apparently took the fall for Governor Tim Pawlenty.

In a 44-22 vote by Minnesota's state Senate today, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau was removed from her post as Commissioner of Transportation.

The Senate declined to confirm Molnau, who has been under fire for her response to the Interstate 35W Mississippi River Bridge disaster and for subsequent media revelations about the state of MnDOT management under her regime.

"This is a responsibility that none of us takes lightly," said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Stillwater, who chairs the Senate transportation committee. "These two full-time jobs are just too much for anyone to be able to discharge appropriately."

Murphy added, "This brings no one joy or satisfaction. None."

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, was blunt.

"We have a crumbling transportation system," said Pogemiller. "This is not about Carol Molnau, this is about leadership, the failure of leadership of the governor of this state to accept responsibility for a mistake he made."

Pogemiller added, "The level of leadership in this department is not what Minnesotans deserve."

Republicans denounced the move as "slash and burn politics," and accused the DFL of targeting Molnau for political reasons.

"We did see commissioners removed in the dead of night two years ago. That was a shameful moment for this body. And I fear that's what we're going to do again," said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

"A crumbling transportation system? What? I don't see that," said Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna. "Why isn't society and why aren't Minnesotans looking at us and saying, 'why are you blaming this lady?'"

Again folks, what this is pointing to is gross incompetence and unconcern over the safety/viability of our nation's important infrastructure.

Under no circumstances should the victims of the bridge collapse accept the paltry $40 Million buy off offer by the state of Minnesota. How ironic the $40 Million bone is tossed to the victims, yet for at least ten years Minnesotans had been asking for something to be done about this bridge. only to be told "there's no money":

Originally posted to Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 01:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the update n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, bushondrugs
  •  More details on I-35 Bridge failure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, Superpole, jimreyn

    This link shows photos of the critical bridge structures that were underdesigned:
    I-35 Bridge Collapse Analysis

    Update January 15, 2008 — the NTSB issued their first formal update on the I-35W disaster investigation. They announced that there was a design flaw in the structure. The gusset plates at the U-10 and L-11 connections were 50% too thin to meet the design requirements.

    Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

    by bushondrugs on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 01:21:12 PM PST

    •  Thanks for the Perinent Link! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ckntfld, jimreyn

      A second unusual factor is that the bridge was undergoing repair work on the deck. The normal 8 lanes were reduced to 2 lanes each direction, with two lanes each direction being closed for repair work. The northbound lanes had a large pile of gravel placed right above the U-9 and U-10 connector joints. While the bridge should have been able to handle this weight with no problem, it did alter the normal distribution of weight on the structure and add a constant additional load to the already heat stressed connector joints.

      bingo-- gets to the point in my first diary: this point load (i.e. concentrated load) should not have been on the bridge. the state is responsible for giving permission to the contractor to add this load to the bridge. if the contractor just went and did it without permission, and they did it without first retaining the services of a licensed structural engineer to run the calcs which would indicate (or not) the bridge structure would safely support this additional load-- then the contractor is responsible for the failure of the bridge.

      also crucial:

      In the bridge collapse, all 16 of the undersized gusset plates showed signs of pre-collapse damage. This means that at least one gusset plate failed, leading to the failure of the rest of the similiar gusset plates. When enough of these gusset plates failed, the bridge could no longer support itself, and it collapsed. The interesting part is that the NTSB still does not know why the first gusset plate failed. Despite being too thin, it did stand up for 40 years.

      Until the original design drawings and the structural calculations for this bridge are unearthed and examined by objective structural engineers and bridge designers, I am not convinced the gusset plates were "too thin".

      again, the public is entitled to see the structural analysis which most certainly occurred prior to/during the last two renovations of the bridge. this analysis certainly examined the gusset plates since they are obviously a key component of the bridge structure.

      statements by Rosenker and others that "the gusset plates were not looked at" are hogwash.

      "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

      by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 01:37:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Structural Analysis (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Superpole, jimreyn, bushondrugs

        My daughter is a newly minted structural engineer working for a firm on the east coast. She (and others) have been working on the I-35 bridge failure for a law firm. I assume the lawyers have been hired by some of the victims families, but I didn't feel comfortable asking. I doubt she would even know. She has been working from the original plans and the plans for subsequent renovations. Also included is a fair amount of research into the original building standards used during construction and later renovations. I don't know much more except that those working on the project are disgusted with the incompetence of those responsible for the safety of the bridge.  Maybe, this won't be swept under the rug.

        "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." -Henry Kissinger

        by Ckntfld on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 02:54:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Congratulations on raising an engineer! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Your daughter should be commended for going into a profession that takes brains and will make a difference in the world.

          Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

          by bushondrugs on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 06:53:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Frankly, I've often wondered if she was switched at birth due to the fact she has a math gene that definitely did not come from either me or her father.

            "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." -Henry Kissinger

            by Ckntfld on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 08:11:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent (0+ / 0-)

          does your daughter work for Wiss Janney Elstner? I understand they are one of the structural firms looking at the collapse.

          One thing about structural engineering for buildings and bridges-- it's a well established, evolved science based on mathematics and physics. having a structural design made up of beams, girders, trusses, gusset plates, rivets, etc. means you are able to calculate what weight loads (concentrated and spread out uniformly over the structure) can be safely supported by the structure.

          safety factors are built in, i.e. the structure is designed to support the known loads it is meant to support, plus additional loads/stresses not foreseen by the engineers. an example is the Empire State Building which survived being struck by a B-25
          bomber in 1945.

          therefore it won't be that difficult to determine if the I-35 bridge structure was in fact overloaded by the additional concrete added to the bridge with the second renovation in 1998 and the increased useage of the bridge by cars and trucks (more weight load).

          it may be determined the bridge was doomed to eventually fail (unless significant repairs were made to the structure including new structural components to increase the strength of the structure-- which were not done) and in fact the catastrophic failure last year was due to the stacking of tons of gravel and other construction materials on the south end of the bridge which presented a concentrated load the bridge was not designed to support-- and/or could not support due to the age/condition of the structural components.

          analysis thus far already indicates the collapse of the bridge started on the south end-- the same place where the gravel and other construction materials were stacked/stored.

          "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

          by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 06:05:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Different firm (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I am about the farthest thing from an engineer, but I will give it my best shot.
            To the best of my recollection, you are right about the weight load (both the additional weight from the later renovations, additional number of cars and trucks, and the stacking of the construction material) and the condition of the structural components. They are also studying the original design. Wish I could be more detailed. When I talk to her again, I'll try to find out more. Since she is  the most junior member on the team, she probably won't have as many details as the team manager.

            "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." -Henry Kissinger

            by Ckntfld on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 11:44:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The Thing Is.. (0+ / 0-)

              one doesn't have to be an engineer-- much of this is common sense, especially the propaganda put forth by the NTSB that the "original design was flawed".

              that is total nonsense-- the two renovations of the bridge more or less nullify the original design.

              working in the construction industry, I can tell you that certain procedures are mandatory with this sort of work-- because the health and safety of the public is at stake.

              there's NO way the 1998 renovation occurred without a total structural analysis of the existing bridge structure (all components) to determine: A.) the structure would safely support the additional load, and B.) if it would not safely support the additional load, the engineers would design/recommend additional structural components and/or replacing key components to insure the bridge was structurally sound.

              "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

              by Superpole on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 06:19:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                You make much more sense than anyone I have read regarding the bridge collapse. With this newfound common sense, maybe I can understand more of what my daughter tells me.

                "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." -Henry Kissinger

                by Ckntfld on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 09:31:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    njhoo, bushondrugs

    The $40 million - which was passed by the DFL (Democratic) controlled house and which will certainly be vetoed - is pretty generous.  Its far more than they could get through the tort system.

    •  there will be a lot less for new brdges (0+ / 0-)

      if they pay out $40 million or more

      oh they could raise taxes on the ciitizens to make up for it i guess.. that would be fair or every taxpayer in the state could mail $10 to thte victim because it is their fault

  •  how much should they pay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it comes from taxpayers, no?
    $40 million sounds like more than enough to me....
    the worse the accident the more money you should get?  i think everyone learned the lesson from the catastrophe...  i think the families will not feel any better if they get $40 million or $400 million

  •  If I might also add... (0+ / 0-)

    Although $40 million seems like a small amount of money to compensate for the loss of a person's life, we must also remember that this money ultimately is coming out of taxpayers' pockets, potentially at the expense of improvements to other infrastructure that is in jeopardy.  

    This price is not being paid by the persons who were responsible for the design flaws.

    Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

    by bushondrugs on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 01:26:17 PM PST

    •  What Design Flaws? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unterhausen, Ckntfld

      please see my comment (in response to your first comment).

      while Governor Pawlenty and the NTSB can conveniently (for them) refer to "design flaws" as responsible for the collapse, these statements are in fact baseless and IMHO false until the original bridge design drawings and calculations are examined by objective parties.

      has this been done yet? I don't believe it has.

      "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

      by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 01:40:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  can't imagine suing for design flaws 40 yrs later (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        there is some assumption of responsibility by the user.  Which is clearly the case, they knew there were problems with the condition of the bridge, and were applying bandaids.  

        I imagine the bridge design was not up to current standards for the loads it was seeing, but you can hardly consider that to be the fault of the firms that designed it.  It was known that there were fatigue cracks in some of the structural elements of this bridge.  I'm almost positive that the original design did not take fatigue cracks into account as part of the design.  

        •  Read (0+ / 0-)

          Update January 15, 2008 — the NTSB issued their first formal update on the I-35W disaster investigation. They announced that there was a design flaw in the structure. The gusset plates at the U-10 and L-11 connections were 50% too thin to meet the design requirements.
          It appears that it was a mathematical error made by a draftsman, and that error was not caught when it was reviewed by the project engineer. The bridge contained eight of these connector joints, for a total of 16 gusset plates.

          Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

          by bushondrugs on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 06:32:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not baseless. Here's the original report: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

            by bushondrugs on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 06:41:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for Posting (0+ / 0-)

              cutting to the chase, reading the final section of the report "Interpretation of Results", I don't see anything stating ALL of the trusses were "too thin" or "poorly designed" as the NTSB and the state government of MN wants the victims of the collapse and you/I to believe.

              in fact the last sentence of the first paragraph states "ALL of the gusset plates have at least one D/C ratio equal to or greater than 0.87 indicating an efficient design".

              further, their finding regarding the gusset plates at L3 and U4: "Combining the shape requirements with a minimum plate thickness of 1/2 inch sufficiently met the reconstructed design and detailing requirements".

              their finding regarding gusset plates U8, L13 and U14 indicates (to me) these plates were in fact too thick, given the engineers deemed the plates "inefficient" because "the thickness applied greatly exceeds the needs of the slenderness requirement".

              the last paragraph indicates a problem with gusset plate U12.

              These findings do not support the general statement by the NTSB or anyone working for the MN state government that ALL of the gusset plates were "too thin". my claim that this statement is baseless and false is supported by the linked report.

              If the report did in fact support this general statement, the state still has a major problem-- i.e. they want the victims of the collapse and the general public to believe none of this was known back in 1997, prior to the IMHO significant renovation of the bridge.

              I don't believe this and the victims should not believe it, either.


              "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

              by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 07:22:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          as my original diary points out, there were two renovations of the bridge over its 40 year life, one in 1977 and one in 1998.

          I believe the 1998 project was the more significant, with lanes added (which means more cars/trucks could use the bridge and thus more weight was added) and the concrete which the lanes are constructed of was thickened from 6.5 inches to 8.5 inches. I don't know, but I assume new larger/additional reinforcing bars were part of this new pavement-- bottom line is the additional concrete and reinforcing bars added more weight to the structure.

          Ultimately the changes (increases) made to the weight load supported by the bridge means the original bridge design cannot be faulted for the collapse, simply because the original design was not intended to safely support the additional weight load/stresses placed on the bridge with the two renovations, the additional cars/truck useage over the years, and the concentrated load presented by the construction materials stacked on the south end of the bridge prior to the collapse last year.

          therefore any statements by the NTSB and the state of Minnesota regarding the collapse being due to the original "bad/faulty design" of the bridge are total bullshit and can only be seen as an attempt to protect the state and the contractor responsible for stacking the materials on the south end of the bridge from litigation by the victims of the collapse.

          I continue to maintain this bridge was thoroughly analyzed by structural engineers either hired by the state, or working for MNDOT directly, prior to the 1998 expansion.

          that analysis would have most assuredly looked at the gusset plates in question (which now all of a sudden are being declared "too thin") and determined the additional load presented by the increase in lanes, increase in weight of the concrete pavement, increase in car & truck useage of the bridge may have exceeded the structural capacity of the bridge to safely support (again, without major structural repairs to the bridge which of course cost money).

          the analysis would have also certainly looked at the fatigue/corrosion issue with the aging structural components-- which in fact decrease the ability of the structure to support the original design loads, at the same time additional loads were obviously added to the bridge.

          I can see where this is going-- the state was probably warned back in 1997 the additional load presented by the proposed renovation was pushing the structural capacity of the bridge beyond the safety factor, and/or they were told the additional load could be supported by replacing key components like the gusset plates with larger, heavier gusset plates capable of supporting the new load-- but somebody at the state refused to do so because this presented a "problem" with additional cost and/or increased length of the construction schedule to do the work in 1998 which also presented an "inconvenience" to bridge users, particularly  companies who have to get their products back and forth across this bridge every day.

          if the gusset plates were indeed "too thin", the state knew this since 1997 (or earlier) and did nothing about it safety-wise, therefore the state is culpable for the collapse of the bridge.

          $40 Million is not enough punishment for this sort of incompetence and blatant disregard for the safety of our citizens-- certain engineers need to have their licenses revoked and state government officials need to be removed from office.

          "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

          by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2008 at 06:44:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why it fell-Bush cut prevention funding (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, Superpole

    Mar 6 2001
    President Bush's budget cut disaster prevention programs

    When natural calamity strikes, Washington's impulse is to drop everything and rush to help. Another impulse is also being keenly felt these days: to save money.

    The result, if President Bush's budget is any guide, may be a shift in emphasis away from disaster prevention toward disaster relief. And even that assistance may be provided under tougher conditions.

    He also is seeking cuts in several prevention programs, including one to shore up public structures and another to bring better training and equipment to crews fighting wildfires and other blazes.

    With unavoidably awkward timing, the Seattle-area quake hit the same day last week that Bush presented a budget outlining $500 million in savings from cutbacks in disaster spending.

    Among Bush's proposed savings in other areas: $100 million by canceling new grants to fire departments; $83 million by cutting the federal share of hazard mitigation grants by one-third; and $25 million by ending Project Impact, a small disaster-preparedness campaign.

    Mitigation grants are used to shore up structures already weakened by floods, quakes or more, so they will withstand a future attack better.

    Bush gave The Taliban 75 million at around that same

    ``They are dissociating themselves from programs closely identified with the prior (Clinton) administration,'' Harrald said. ``But there is more unclear at this point than is clear.''

    May said the Clinton administration emphasized prevention through modest programs aimed at helping to keep losses low before something happened.

    Bush may have realized it's politically easier to cut that money instead of disaster relief.

    NOW is time to uphold the Constitution and protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    by Mulkum on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 03:37:08 PM PST

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