Why Does the I 35w Mississippi River Bridge Failed? Thesis

Pages: 3 (1040 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Engineering

¶ … 35W Mississippi River Bridge failed, and what ethical issues were involved. On August 1, 2007, the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed, sending cars, drivers, and construction workers to their deaths. The ethical issue in question with this bridge is that it was on a list of known bridges that had flaws, there are many other such bridges in the country's infrastructure, and yet, the bridge was not repaired in time to keep it from collapsing and killing 13 people and injuring 145 people. It is a miracle that more people did not die in the collapse, as it happened during rush hour, and the bridge was historically one of the busiest in the state.

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The I-35 West Bridge was constructed in 1967, and inspected regularly thereafter by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The last time it was inspected was in May 2007, where the Department inspectors noted some "weld details," and noted they would continue to inspect the bridge. They did not deem it unsafe. The bridge was rated a 4 out of 9, and the U.S. Department of Transportation website notes, "The 4 rating means that the state can continue to operate the bridge without load restrictions (0= shut down, 9 = perfect)" (Editors). An engineering expert notes, "Until it plunged into the Mississippi River, it served as a transportation lifeline for the growing Twin Cities population, carrying across its 14 spans many of the SUVs, cars and trucks that accounted for the 42% rise in Minnesota's vehicle traffic from 1990 to 2003" (Flynn). Thus, it came under increasingly heavy use, it was showing signs of stress and wear, (such as the weakened welds), and it was known it was not a 9 or "perfect" bridge.

TOPIC: Thesis on Why Does the I 35w Mississippi River Bridge Failed? Assignment

This is an extremely dangerous situation, because it is not limited to the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota, it is a condition that affects bridges all over the country. Expert Flynn continues, "According to a report card released in 2005 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 160,570 bridges, or just over one-quarter of the nation's 590,750-bridge inventory, were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete" (Flynn). The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the collapse and its cause, but a preliminary finding has been leaked to the press, indicating there was a design flaw in the original bridge design that was never found, and this contributed to the collapse. It also implicates many other bridges with the same design for collapse or failure (Condon). Clearly, there are ethical and moral issues here, from the continued inspection of the bridge that did not turn up anything, to the design firm that first designed the bridge and obviously did not test their design effectively enough, (which is underscored by the leaked results, which point to insufficient design and testing). The results could have been dramatically different had the firm adequately tested their designs, and the real possibility that other bridges like this one could collapse due to this design flaw is another huge ethical issue.

Clearly, the inspections did not test the bridge's integrity, because they… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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