Your disturbing sentences of the day

From today’s New York Times story on the Minneapolis bridge collapse: [O]fficials said the bridge?s design had been considered outmoded for decades because a single failure of a structural part could bring down the whole bridge. About 11 percent of the nation?s steel bridges, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, lack the redundant protection to ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

From today's New York Times story on the Minneapolis bridge collapse: [O]fficials said the bridge?s design had been considered outmoded for decades because a single failure of a structural part could bring down the whole bridge. About 11 percent of the nation?s steel bridges, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, lack the redundant protection to reduce these failures, federal officials said. Over all, the bridge was rated 4 on a scale of zero to 9, with 9 being perfect and zero requiring a shutdown. An inspection report last year said the supporting structure was in ?poor condition,? far from the lowest category. Hundreds of other working bridges are in similar shape, but the report did indicate that the bridge had possible issues that needed to be regularly inspected. The bridge has been inspected annually since 1993, but independent engineers acknowledged yesterday that there are well-known limits to how useful an inspection can be. Bridges, they said, are prone to a variety of problems, and some are hard to spot. At the Minnesota Department of Transportation, shaken engineers made it clear that they knew something crucial had somehow been overlooked. ?We thought we had done all we could,? said Daniel L. Dorgan, bridge engineer at the department?s bridges division. ?Obviously something went terribly wrong.? (emphasis added) What on God's green earth would be lower than a "poor" rating? A "Jeebus, we're lucky we got off the bridge in time to file this report" rating?

From today’s New York Times story on the Minneapolis bridge collapse:

[O]fficials said the bridge?s design had been considered outmoded for decades because a single failure of a structural part could bring down the whole bridge. About 11 percent of the nation?s steel bridges, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, lack the redundant protection to reduce these failures, federal officials said. Over all, the bridge was rated 4 on a scale of zero to 9, with 9 being perfect and zero requiring a shutdown. An inspection report last year said the supporting structure was in ?poor condition,? far from the lowest category. Hundreds of other working bridges are in similar shape, but the report did indicate that the bridge had possible issues that needed to be regularly inspected. The bridge has been inspected annually since 1993, but independent engineers acknowledged yesterday that there are well-known limits to how useful an inspection can be. Bridges, they said, are prone to a variety of problems, and some are hard to spot. At the Minnesota Department of Transportation, shaken engineers made it clear that they knew something crucial had somehow been overlooked. ?We thought we had done all we could,? said Daniel L. Dorgan, bridge engineer at the department?s bridges division. ?Obviously something went terribly wrong.? (emphasis added)

What on God’s green earth would be lower than a “poor” rating? A “Jeebus, we’re lucky we got off the bridge in time to file this report” rating?

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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