After watching the tragedies in Minneapolis unfold since Wednesday, it has prompted questions about bridge safety all over the nation — including our own spans over Agate Pass and Hood Canal.
This weekend will be the last of two lane closures on the Agate Pass Bridge as Washington State Department of Transportaion crews complete annual inspections. Traffic was backed up last weekend as well during the first stage of the yearly testing.
And while motorists complain and moan over the backup, the inconvenience of having to leave the house a little earlier and rework otherwise wonderful weekend plans, those sentiments catch in the throat mid-sentence after watching the devestating collapse in Minnesota.
The Hood Canal Bridge is in the middle of a project that will replace the east half of the overpass and upgrade the west half. It will be closed in for about six weeks in 2009 for the major replacement, and though it will definitely cause some headaches for commuters, residents should remember this tragedy and rearrange their schedules for a few weeks.
The Hood Canal Bridge suffered a collapse of its own in 1979 during a windstorm that sunk the west half. Long-time residents remember what it was like trying to get between Kitsap and Jefferson counties in the weeks that followed.
Citizens seem to have become less and less tolerant of work being done to make them safer. Anything that causes a backup or takes unexpected time during the day is a major problem. And then something like the bridge collapse in Minneapolis happens, and the country takes a deep breath, mourns the injured and dead, and goes right back to what it was doing before.
The moral of this editoral: Slow down, take a few extra minutes if needed to get to work, school or vacation and think of those that paid dearly for the increasingly poor conditions of our country’s overpasses.