Making Sure It Won’t Happen Here

Courtesy of NYS Thruway Authority

Courtesy of NYS Thruway Authority

Three time zones away from New York State, the Interstate 5 at Skagit River Bridge in Washington state collapsed yesterday, sending one couple and their pickup and camper, and another man and his car, into the water.

Warm, cold, tepid, frigid, does it matter?  It should not have happened, no matter if a truck ran into one of the bridge’s girders.

At less than 340 meters (1,111 feet or 0.2 miles) long, this structure carries about 70,000 vehicles a day and is one of the busiest in Northwest Washington.  Built in 1955 — when the Tappan Zee Bridge opened — it was called functionally obsolete.  The question is, WHY?

The Federal Highway Administration said in September, “In the last 20 years, the Tappan Zee Bridge has shown significant deterioration.”  We know, and we’re doing something about it.

The Washington State DOT said the Skagit River Bridge was inspected twice last year, “once in August, once in November after it was struck by a vehicle.”

Let’s compare.  The Interstate 5 bridge averages 71,000 vehicles daily on its four lanes that span 0.2 miles, while the TZB carries a whopping 134,000 (nearly double) vehicles across three miles via seven lanes with a movable barrier.

Building a bridge is noisy and disruptive, and necessary.

Less than half a mile from where I live, a formerly four-lane bridge that crosses over train tracks has become a six-lane improvement during the past three years.  This is a guesstimate, given the small window to work with at night, in addition to a 2:30 a.m.-to-4:30 a.m. time slot during track outages.

Noisy, and at times inconvenient, the construction caused traffic jams into my residential street that’s already congested with delivery trucks, and cars that are double-parked.

There’s also the Crane Road Bridge replacement project on the Bronx River Parkway, which will be completed by spring 2015.  Construction plans that necessitated closing a vital entrance and exit for 18 months aggravated local merchants planning holiday sales.

“That’s going to impact our business,” said one business owner. “You’re closing the bridge right at the height of holiday shopping.”

See where I’m going?

You can check real-time noise, vibration and air quality monitors for Losee Park, The Quay, South Broadway and RiverWalk in Westchester County.  The latest addition is Salisbury Point in Rockland County; additional locations will include River Road in Grand View.

We’re building a new bridge so what happened in Washington state never, ever happens here.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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