Friday, August 3, 2007

When it comes to bridge collapses, the Plain Dealer scares. C-Notes saves lives.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2007 at 12:20 PM

kayak.jpg
The author, en route to work.
The front page of today’s Plain Dealer boasts a feature that everyone who has ever crossed a bridge, might ever cross a bridge in the future, or is currently in the process of crossing a bridge should read. No, wait! If you’re currently crossing a bridge, get the hell off it before it collapses, then read the story. It could save your life. Headlined, in size 12,000 font, “Could this happen here?” the series of stories examines the safety of Ohio’s 43,800 bridges in the wake of the disastrous Minneapolis bridge collapse. Of course, the likelihood of dying in a bridge collapse is about the same as being struck by lightning twice in the same day, then winning the lottery, then getting struck by lightning again, then getting a call returned by Mayor Frank Jackson. But if the PD scares us all enough, maybe we’ll read far enough into the paper to catch Regina Brett’s “ Reader Solution,” Part 5,467. Hey, whatever works. Sufficiently frightened, we thought we’d give you some pointers on how to keep you and your family safe on your daily commutes. Keep a kayak handy: A good kayak is an indispensable item if you’re trying to avoid plunging along with 5,000 tons of concrete and rebar into your watery grave. Next time you come to a bridge over water, just hop out, put in your kayak, and row across. Then wait for traffic to die down (the more cars on the bridge, the more likely it is that it’ll crumble like a stack of cards under the weight of your Toyota Prius), row back, and drive across. It may take you a few extra hours, but imagine those poor people at the bottom of the Mississippi River. They’re sure not in any hurry anymore. Look for alternate routes to work: You can often avoid bridges on your way to work by taking backroads. Take, for instance, this alternate route to get from Lakewood to downtown Cleveland: Instead of taking the shoreway and then hopping on the Detroit-Superior Bridge, try taking Interstate 71 South to Ashland, then take country roads east to Lima, then take Interstate 77 North into the city. If you leave at 3 o’clock in the morning, you’ll get there with plenty of time to grab Starbucks. Drive faster: It’s simple math, people! The shorter the amount of time you’re on the bridge, the less likelihood you have of being one of the unlucky motorists caught in the rubble. So step on it for God’s sake! I did 90 m.p.h. across the Lorain Bridge this morning, and, besides running over someone’s dog and almost careening into a crowd of blind schoolchildren, I made it across alive. And that’s what’s important, right? -- Jared Klaus, our very sensitive correspondent

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