Portion of I-5 Bridge North of Seattle Collapses
Via CBS News: No fatalities in I-5 bridge collapse in NW Wash.
An Interstate 5 bridge over a river north of Seattle collapsed Thursday evening, dumping several vehicles into the water as authorities investigated the cause of the collapse that cut off the state’s main north-south thruway and sent three people to the hospital.
The bridge is not considered structurally deficient but is listed as being "functionally obsolete" — a category meaning that their design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders are low clearance underneath, according to a database compiled by the Federal Highway Administration.
The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.
According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department, 42 of the county’s 108 bridges that are 50 years or older. The document says eight of the bridges are more than 70 years old and two are over 80.
Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state’s bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington’s 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient of functionally obsolete.
Thankfully, no one was killed. The culprit for causing the collapse may have been an oversized load.
However, this is just another reminder about problems in our infrastructure. Major bridges and such are supposed to collapse in poor, underdeveloped countries, not in an economic superpower. On the one hand, accidents happen and perfection is an impossibility. On the other, as noted above, we know that thousands of bridges across the country are potentially problematic, not to mention it stands to reason that a bridge build in 1955 might not be up to the traffic levels of 2013 (or in the NAFTA era in general).
That we did not direct substantial stimulus spending in this direction remains, to my mind, a key failure of the last half decade or so.