Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It fell because Republicans think taxpayers know how to spend their money better than government 

A report commissioned by the Minnesota legislature concludes,

For Pawlenty and MnDOT, the harshest criticism may have come in the report's finding that funding influenced decisions concerning the bridge. The decision to postpone a $13 million redecking -- and instead proceed with a $3.5 million overlay that was underway when the bridge fell -- meant "funding considerations deferred work on the bridge that would have improved its structural integrity, not just maintain its drivability," the report concluded.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

McEngineering 

"The bridge in Minneapolis didn't collapse because there wasn't enough money. The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects."

- John McEngineering

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Prescient protest 

These signs were protesting Pawlenty's 2005 veto of the 2005 transportation bill because it copntained what would have been the first state gas tax increase in 20 years. The tax is levied as a number of cents per gallon, not a percentage.

road closed by pawlenty

In 1988 - when Minnesota last raised the gas tax from 17¢/gallon to ¢20/gallon - the price of a gallon of unleaded regular was about $0.95, in 2005 it was about $2.30.

Minnesota's transportation budget falls short by $1.8 billion a year. Opposing a gas tax increase can only be interpreted as opposing transportation or supporting a deficit in its funding. Or wing-nut excessive greed for accumulating a few more pennies for each gallon of gas spent.

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May 15, 2007: Tim Pawlenty: "VETOED" 

I have vetoed and am returning House File 946, Chapter 84, the Omnibus Transportation Finance Bill.

With more than $5 billion in tax and fee increases, this bill would impose and unnecessary and onerous financial burden on Minnesota citizens and would weaken our state's economy.

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A week later, Strib on publicly available reports 

A week later, reporting on MN/DOT's reports.

State bridge inspectors warned for nearly a decade before its collapse that the Interstate 35W bridge had "severe" and "extensive" corrosion of its beams and trusses, "widespread cracking" in spans and missing or broken bolts.

Not only was the superstructure in poor condition, but certain components were "beyond tolerable limits," and one of the bridge's piers had "tilted to the north," they reported.

By 2000, the inspectors wrote that "eventual replacement of the entire structure would be preferable" to redecking the bridge. They added: "If bridge replacement is significantly delayed, the bridge should be re-decked."

That recommendation was repeated in every report afterward, but it never happened.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Photos of the I-35 bridge 

From the MnDOT website. Bridge inspection reports are available there, search for 9340, the bridge's official name. A lot of the language is technical jargon I don't understand, but at a few things are clear.

Minneapolis I-35 bridge defect

Minneapolis I-35 bridge defect

Minneapolis I-35 bridge defect

\ Minneapolis I-35 bridge defect

Minneapolis I-35 bridge defect

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The people know how to spend their money better than governement? 

bush and the collapsed bridge

The Reagan conservative movement has been tremendously successful in spreading disdain for taxes and governmental spending on everything unrelated to war. One result in Minnesota has been a perennial $1.8 billion shortfall in transportation funding.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty followed through on his "won't raise taxes" promise each time a transportation bill including a tax increase came before him.

Minnesotans obviously didn't take the initiative to spend their tax relief wisely.

bush and the collapsed bridge

The bridge was known to need structural maintenance, but the MN Department of Transportation needed to do things on the cheap,

More than a year before the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed, a consulting firm advised the state of Minnesota that the aging bridge should be reinforced with steel plating.

Instead of following that advice, state officials asked the firm to come up with other options.

Six months later, the URS Corp. did just that.

It repeated its recommendation for steel plates, but offered an alternative described as "most cost efficient" -- the state could inspect the 40-year-old bridge for cracks and repair any it found.

The day it happened, emergency vehicles started passing me as I turned off I-35 on to 46th St. to pick up a friend on the way to the Twins game. Forty-sixth is about three miles south of the bridge. We didn't know exactly what had happened until we left the game - I had guessed there had been an industrial fire at the paint plant by the bridge as we saw helicopters and black smoke when approaching the Metrodome, just blocks from the bridge. Creepy to think had I not been going to the game, I wouldn't have written two personal letters after work and that may have put me in a bad window of space-time.

But I can be thankful the collapse will only add 10 or so miles to my commute and that my state taxes haven't gone up recently.

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