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Re: AP: Wash. State bridge

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On May 26, 2013, at 10:01 PM, "Thor Tandy" <vicpeng(--nospam--at)> wrote:

> Agreed.  None should drive an over height/size anything onto a bridge
> (without supervision), however, Joe public is not unreasonable asking why
> the bridge was designed in, what is effectively, a fragile condition. 
> From this point in time, the answer is almost rhetorical and the real 
> question is, maybe, are we doing anything about it.
> Many ages ago, I was reminded by a peer that, (engineers) are remembered,
> not for finding problems but for solving them ...
> Bridges are not the only items that suffer from this ailment when you
> consider that a lot of pre-computer era structures were conceived and
> designed with only the power of, eg, the slide rule.  I can't help
> remarking that these issues only really come to light when there is a
> failure, especially if there is also a body count.

Keep in mind that the designs were also quite conservative in recognition 
of that fact.

And ultimately do not forget that everything - including science and 
engineering - is today more than anything else, political. Government at 
all levels, collects huge amounts in taxes, has huge human resources under 
its command, and is expected to solve every problem. Reliance on Big 
Government means that Big Government must put itself forward as the 
solution to everything, and so the "solutions" are always expected to come 
from the public sector.

"Never let a crisis go to waste." This is why the very first thing you hear 
 in situations like this, is that more resources - money and manpower - are 
 needed by government to "fix" it.

The obvious fact that more and more money HAS been going to public coffers 
all along, is conveniently forgotten. And if you point this out, why, you 
obviously don't care if bridges collapse and people die.

It's too bad we can't simply look at this from the standpoint of 
engineering solutions, which always take into account economy as well as 
safety, but we are long past that. You'd think the reality of the breached 
levees in NOLA after Katrina would teach us something - that all the money 
in the world can't fix stupid would come to mind - but a plurality don't 
pay taxes anyway, so what the hell do they care?

Raise taxes, hire more bureaucrats, problem solved.

Engineers are superfluous to the "solution."

W. L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.


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