Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I KNEW IT!
I just found this article on KSTP.com, and it just confirms what I already sensed....every damn time I crossed that bridge, which, by the way, was several times per week in a typical week. I had no basis for my sense of unrest, but for the last several years of having to cross it to get to St. Paul Impound, I always felt queasy. I could not keep my thoughts from wandering into the "what if it collapses?" scenario. So, you see, the only surprise I truely felt at the I-35 W collapse was the fact that it was that bridge that went, and not the Laffayette Bridge in St. Paul. To be clear, the I-35 W bridge also gave me the heebie-jeebies, but not to the degree the St. Paul bridge did. Thankfully I'm no longer in that job, and I live on the far side of the Metro area from it....but if life takes me in that direction, I'll find alternative routes, even if it involves swimming the Mississippi.
ST. PAUL (AP) - A heavily-traveled bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Paul has raised some of the same safety concerns as the interstate bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis, and isn't slated for replacement until 2011.
Like the collapsed bridge, the Lafayette Bridge - which carries Highway 52 over the river just east of downtown St. Paul - is considered structurally deficient, with a sufficiency rating just under what the I-35W span was rated. Also like that bridge, the Lafayette is "fracture-critical," meaning that if one part fails the whole bridge could fail.
The Lafayette carries 81,000 vehicles a day, making it the state's most-traveled bridge with troubles similar to the I-35W bridge. Its history includes a temporary shutdown in 1975, less than a decade after its 1968 opening, when a crack was discovered that was described at the time as large enough to put your arm into.
That fracture in the southbound lane nearly resulted "in (the) collapse of the bridge," according to a 2006 inspection report. The damaged component was jacked back into place and reinforced with bolted plates, the report said.
"That's a bridge we've been watching for a number of years," said Department of Transportation spokesman Kent Barnard. He added that its condition is "nothing ominous, nothing threatening."
Barnard said he drives across the bridge two to three times a week and doesn't worry about it.
But Mike Legato does worry about it. The St. Paul construction worker says there are times, especially if traffic is heavy and cars are bumper to bumper, that he can feel the bridge rattle and shake on his daily commute.
"When you're stopped, you really feel it," he said.
Khani Sahebjam, an engineer for the Metropolitan District of the state Department of Transportation, said he knew of no plans to accelerate the timetable for reconstruction. But he acknowledged that priorities could change.
"Of course it's all tied to possible future funding," Sahebjam said. "Right now, with this situation, the focus is on bridges, so maybe bridges will be done sooner."
Bridges do vibrate and are designed to do so, Sahebjam said.
St. Paul City Engineer John Maczko said he hopes the I-35W collapse will result in a quicker replacement for the Lafayette Bridge.
"I would think that this has shaken them (MnDOT) to the bone," Maczko said.