Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The bridge collapse in Minneapolis cannot be described any other way. It is shocking. I've driven over that bridge dozens of times. Tens of thousands drive it every day. For it to suddenly collapse... is simply shocking.

It forces me to wonder.

How does a bridge go from stable to broken? This morning it held the regular rush hour commute, this evening it could not. What was the difference? Was there a single straw that broke this camel's back? One car too many? Some mechanical defect? An intentional act? A flaw exposed over time, or one that was always there? Something that could have been caught, or an undetectable problem?

This is a shocking accident. It is not shocking for its scope (there have been tremendously larger tragedies in things like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. More peopled died in Iraq yesterday than did in the collapse.), though that contributes. What makes this so shocking is that it makes us question our routine. Millions of people drive over bridges every single day. This was not an old bridge. It sounds as if there were no indications of any problems. Early reports have said it passed previous inspections. People driving over it minutes before the collapse had no clue of the danger. It was just as routine a day, a routine drive over the bridge. Until suddenly it was not.

That is a shock.

Falling down, falling down