Triage

I took this picture of the Tappan Zee bridge in 2010, July 4th from a Park in Tarrytown NY on the eastern shore of the Hudson River. Doozie and I were spending the 4th with our son Jeffrey who was through hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had not yet crossed the River, on foot. After the festivities we would be  dropping him  back on trail for his crossing near West Point. I met up with him again weeks later  in North Adams MA as he crossed into Vermont.

Upon my return from the 4th and reviewing the photos I did a little checking  on the span. It has to be replaced with a price tag in the billions. There is a pitched battle going on now in NY State regarding design and financing. The new  plans  have dropped a public transportation link, rail, dedicated  buses, in favor of cars  & trucks. This is  a very important bridge in our Country, it is vital.

It was built to last 50 years in a time of shortages(Korean War) and never was designed for the volumes of traffic streaming across the Hudson. It carries as many as 140,000 vehicles a day,it can spike to 170,000. Projections  say by 2030 200,ooo vehicles a day.

The future’s so bright you  gotta wear shades.

The  history of the bridge is rife with political maneuvering which resulted in it being built at one of the widest points of the River. The most important consideration was to keep it out of the clutches of the Port Authority and that all toll revenue would  go to the NY State Thruway System.

So, the  crossing location at  Nyack is one mile north of  Port Authority’s realm.

This replacement project is a top National priority.

This container ship is passing beneath the Bayonne Bridge  which spans the Kill Van Kull shipping channel between Bayonne NJ, and Staten Island NY. The Bayonne Bridge is the 4th longest steel arch bridge in the World. When opened in 1931 it was the longest. Twelve percent of all US international containers pass under the bridge.

The bridge is too low for the new super container ships, so for  for a couple of billion they are going to  raise the deck. It’s worth it.  This bridge project like the Tappan Zee has generated a  strong lobby of citizens asking for a rail or bus component, now missing.

The work on the new deck will be done  while traffic flows  underneath, then when completed , the old deck will be cut away. Only the largest  World harbors will be visited by these new behemoths of  the oceans. They carry huge amounts of cargo, and require new cranes to reach across the the full beam of the vessel. You also need significant  infrastructure on shore, rails, highways , to move the cargo .

A couple of weeks ago I bumped into Cliff Sinnott at Xtra Mart one evening. Cliff is the Executive Director of the Rockingham Planning Commission, and a neighbor. He had some news for me on something I had spotted regarding the Park Street  Bridge some time  ago. He told me  that project has been pushed off  at least 2 years, so no battle to join just yet( sigh of relief).

I told  him that my son Jeffrey  had sent me a note with a web link, “right up your alley Dad!”. It is a web site detailing our National Bridge Crisis. There is a map and it’s interactive, and sobering.

Please  try not to breathe a sigh of relief at NH’ s low numbers  of decrepit bridges.

You  might actually live  somewhere else  in the future, or take a drive beyond the State  line.

I mentioned to Cliff I wanted  to post  on the issue  as triage is  needed given the scope of the problem. He  liked that word “triage”

You might be waiting a long time for your home town bridge to get fixed, there are more important  bridges that are crucial to commerce  and  security, and safety.

I think Portsmouth was damn  lucky to get a nickel in funding for the Memorial Bridge. I hope  moving forward the locals everywhere in the Country realize  where  they  might be in line and are  more realistic.Enjoy all the hoopla , I guess, but  in the grand scheme your bridge could be just another bridge.

You might have to “go around” for awhile.

Today I was back at Xtra Mart and grabbed a Boston Globe to read with  coffee. Here is a portion of a  column from today’s edition written by Juliette Kayyem.

Bridge to the future

This time, let’s build infrastructure that lasts.

“Infrastructure projects are too often promoted exclusively for job creation, a legacy of Obama’s early stimulus package. They focus our attention on quantifiable standards of jobs gained or money spent. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can limit how we judge the quality of these investments and how we build those projects.

So, here are a few things we can predict about the future: There will be hurricanes and flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes, and even crazy people who will want to blow things up or tear things down. None of this is new, or particularly surprising. But these threats are multiplied by the interconnections of a society where people, resources, communications networks, and supply chains often begin and end at the same place.

In other words, not every bridge is “the’’ bridge, as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff correctly suggested when talking about prioritizing security efforts. Losing a two-lane bridge down the street from his house would be inconvenient, but of insignificance compared to losing the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Transportation for America Bridge Map

Mike

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