I present here two reports on the bridge collapse in Washington state recently. Draw your own conclusions.
Published May 26, 2013
May 23, 2013: People look on after the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Wash. (AP/The Seattle Times)
SEATTLE – The collapse of an Interstate highway bridge in northern Washington state is a wake-up call for the entire nation, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says.
Investigators need to find out what happened at the I-5 span 60 miles north of Seattle and if it could be repeated at similar bridges around the country, Debbie Hersman said Saturday.
“This is a really significant event and we need to learn from it, not just in Washington but around the country,” Hersman said after taking a boat ride on the Skagit River below the dramatic scene where a truck bumped against the steel framework, collapsing the bridge and sending two vehicles and three people falling into the chilly water.
“At the end of the day it’s about preventing an accident like this,” she said.
Her team will spend a week to 10 days looking at the bridge, talking to the truck driver whose vehicle hit it, and examining maintenance documents and previous accident reports.
Other over-height vehicles struck the Skagit River bridge before the collapse on Thursday, she noted. Investigators are using a high tech 3-D video camera to review the scene and attempt to pinpoint where the bridge failure began.
Hersman does not expect the investigation to delay removal of debris from the river or work on a temporary solution to replace or repair the I-5 span. State and federal officials can, and will, work together on the investigation, she said.
They’ll be watching for safety issues that could affect other bridges.
“The results can be very catastrophic,” Hersman said. “We’re very fortunate in this situation.”
Washington state officials said Saturday that it will take time to find both short- and long-term fixes for the bridge that collapsed on Interstate 5.
While, the National Transportation and Safety Board finishes its inspection, state workers will begin removing debris from the river. Next, a temporary solution will be put in place to return traffic to Washington state’s most important north-south roadway.
Inspectors are working to find out whether the disintegration on Thursday of the heavily used span over the Skagit River, 60 miles north of Seattle and 40 miles south of the Canadian border, was a fluke or a sign of bigger problems.
“These things take time. We want to make sure it’s done right, done thoroughly,” Washington Transportation Department spokesman Bart Treece said.
A trucker was hauling a load of drilling equipment Thursday evening when his load bumped against the steel framework over the bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the span collapse into the water behind him.
Motorists should not expect to drive on I-5 between Mount Vernon and Burlington for many weeks and possibly months, Treece said.
Treece asked people to plan for an extra hour to make their way through detours around the collapsed bridge. There are three detour options northbound and two options southbound.
About 71,000 vehicles use that stretch of highway every day. Late Saturday morning, traffic was moving freely through the detours.
Officials were looking for a temporary, pre-fabricated bridge to replace the 160-foot section that failed, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday. That option could be in place in weeks. Otherwise, it could be months before a replacement can be built, the governor said.
Inslee said it will cost $15 million to repair the bridge. The federal government has promised $1 million in emergency dollars and more money could come later, according to Washington’s congressional delegation.
State officials approved Mullen Trucking in Alberta to carry a load as high as 15 feet, 9 inches, according to the permit released by the state. However, the southbound vertical clearance on the Skagit River bridge is as little as 14 feet, 5 inches, state records show. That lowest clearance is outside of the bridge’s vehicle traveling lanes, Transportation Department communications director Lars Erickson said Friday. The bridge’s curved overhead girders are higher in the center of the bridge but sweep lower toward a driver’s right side.
The bridge has a maximum clearance of about 17 feet, but there is no signage to indicate how to safely navigate the bridge with a tall load.
At a news conference later Saturday, Hersman said Washington state does not require signage unless the clearance is 14 feet, 4 inches or less.
The permit specifically describes the route the truck would take, though it includes a qualification that the state “Does Not Guarantee Height Clearance.”
May 24, 2013
RUSH: We had a bridge collapse, which kind of surprised me because, you know, we spent almost a trillion dollars to repair the bridges in America, and I remember the president talking about it.
Let’s go back. November 22nd, 2008. This is after the election. This is his weekly YouTube address. He wasn’t president yet, but he was president-elect. And he’s talking about his stimulus plan. This is leading up to the stimulus, which he would put in place a few months later.
OBAMA: There will be a two-year nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges.
RUSH: How’s that working out? Now, the reason I’m playing this is because they’re gonna try to blame Bush for this before the day’s over, if they’re not already. Well, they’ll find a way. Obama’s not gonna take responsibility for this. The stimulus was supposed to repair the roads and bridges. I know they blame Bush. That’s why I’m saying they’ll blame him for this one. They blamed Bush for the Minneapolis bridge collapse. So this is the day that Obama signed the stimulus. This February 17th, 2009, he was in Denver at the Museum of Nature and Science.
OBAMA: Because of this investment, nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation.
RUSH: How many of you low-information voters — and I know you’re out there. You know who you are, and I know who you are. You know you’re there. How many of you now remember this? These were the heady days, folks, this was February 2009. You go back to February 2009, I mean, we were on the cusp of utopia. We just elected our messiah. Everybody but me believed. No, no, no, no. Leave me out of it. Everybody believed. You go back to January 2009, I’m telling you, the air was crackling with optimism. Everybody was really excited. We had this brand-new, never-seen-before politician, somebody who was going to eliminate partisanship. The racial problems were going to be solved. The country was once again gonna be loved by foreign powers.
I mean, this was it. This was just almost a month after the immaculation. And here came the stimulus, and remember, everybody in the media and everybody that voted for Obama bought into every word of this. I just want you to think back. Remember, ’cause mind-sets today are nowhere near where they were then. The country today is in malaise, it’s depressed, it’s dispirited, other than certain pockets, but for the most part, it’s aimless. It seems like every day there’s a new institution crumbling or change in the country taking place that people think is not good change.
But these were heady days, and this was the stimulus, and this was gonna put the economy back on track and get people back to work. And listen to what he said.
“Four hundred thousand men and women are gonna go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrade mass transit, build high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation.”
And you know the low-information crowd that voted for Obama bought every syllable of that. Now, we just had a bridge collapse, and none of what Obama described as being beneficiaries of new spending actually got any of it. All of that money went to unions. All of that money went to teachers and other public employee unions during the recession to make sure they were not laid off. Eighty percent of the stimulus went to Democrat voters. Eighty percent of the stimulus went to Democrat donors. Eighty percent of the stimulus went to Democrat supporters.
None of it went to rebuild bridges and none of it went to rebuild roads and none of it went to rebuild schools. But back then it was exciting and everybody was filled with anticipation, because over 50% of the country bought into this. They believed it. They thought this was what’s gonna happen. They thought this was good. They thought this was the proper way to spend money. Especially to bring us out of economic doldrums. We’ve now know that the bulk of that money went to make sure unionized Democrats didn’t lose their jobs because unionized Democrats is a money laundering scheme. Teachers, other public employee unions pay dues.
Now, Obama just can’t go to the Treasury and write himself a $900 billion check for himself, the Democrat Party, for their campaign coffers. So what did they do? They wrote a check for $900 billion and told you they’re gonna rebuild roads and bridges and schools and levees and broadband connections and high-speed rail lines, and all they did was send it to states who then used it to keep their public employees working so that they continued to pay dues. And a percentage of that $900 billion check that Obama wrote came back to him and the Democrat Party in the form of campaign contributions. A fantastic, and never before described this way, money-laundering scheme.
Now, the day may welcome where Obama or a Democrat president can go to the Treasury and write himself a check for him and his party. But we’re not there yet. So, in lieu of that, this is how they have to do it. There ought not have been a bridge collapse, folks. We should have been shoring all this up, the bridge shoulda held, it shouldn’ta collapsed. But there hasn’t been any work done on the bridge, and there haven’t been any new levees, and there hasn’t been any new mass transit, and there hasn’t been any new high-speed rail, and there hasn’t been vast increases in critical broadband connections to businesses and homes, at least not that Obama has done. Four hundred thousand men and women rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, did not happen. I just want you to remember how you felt that day.
Now, I know you didn’t believe any of it. I know you in this audience knew exactly what it was, because you had me advising you, and you instinctively knew on your own. But we had low-information people, a lot of people listen that day hoping to hear me sad and depressed and down in the dumps, people that wanted to gloat over my misery. And many of those people were Obamaites. And of course I wasn’t sad, and I wasn’t giving them any reason to gloat. I was telling them exactly how they had been defrauded and how they had voted for something that was never gonna happen and couldn’t happen. So it’s fun to go back, revisit. Let’s go to CNN this morning on Newsroom. This is a portion of how the anchor, Carol Costello, started her show today.
COSTELLO: Happening now in the newsroom, bridge collapse, cars plunge into the freezing water below. As you head out the door for Memorial Day weekend, how safe are you?
RUSH: Oh, yeah. See, since the bridge collapsed wherever it collapsed, yours could collapse over the Memorial Day weekend. How safe are you? Your bridge could be next. Your tunnel could be next. Your highway could buckle, a sinkhole could open up and swallow up your house. How’s your weekend?
RUSH: Let me give you an AP story from July 31st of 2009. “Tens of thousands of unsafe or decaying bridges carrying 100 million drivers a day must wait for repairs because states are spending stimulus money on spans that are already in good shape or on easier projects like repaving roads, an Associated Press analysis shows. … President Obama urged Congress last winter to pass his $787 billion stimulus package so some of the economic recovery money could be used to rebuild what he called America’s ‘crumbling bridges.'”
Didn’t happen. Even the AP admits it. Now, what happened was, the bridge collapsed because of a truck that was too big. It exceeded the weight limit for the bridge. So there might not have even been anything wrong with the bridge. The truck was from Canada, by the way. The truck was too tall, probably because the Canadian driver — I’m just guessing — didn’t know the clearance for the bridge because he was using metric and didn’t know the difference between centimeters and feet. Who knows. Or he might have been two liters into the sauce. Who knows. I don’t want say that. I don’t know that that’s true or not.
But, anyway, no, I don’t think I can make too big a deal of it. If you go back, that stimulus is what got all of this fraud started. The stimulus is what got all of this, this phony baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock ‘n’ roller so-called economic recovery started. And the stimulus was fraudulent from day one. Even this AP story that claims that the states spent whatever money they got on easier projects like repaving roads, that was chump change. The vast majority of stimulus money went to Democrat unions, particularly teachers unions.
In Wisconsin — I forget the exact percentage — 70, 80% of the stimulus money there went to the teachers unions, for the express purpose of making sure that they stayed employed during the upcoming recession. And it was a payback to them for voting for Obama, for raising money for Obama. They pay their dues, you know what happens to union dues. They end up being spent on Democrat campaigns, buying ads for Democrat candidates. It was a way that Obama could secure a percentage of $900 billion of stimulus from the federal Treasury, back to the Democrat Party. And nobody was gonna oppose it. He’s in his honeymoon period. He’s the messiah. He’s what everybody hoped we’d been waiting for, finally shown up. Whatever he wanted to do he was gonna get. Whatever he was gonna say about whatever he was doing, he was gonna be believed.