Saturday, August 11, 2007

The BU Bridge Redivivus

When I posted Tuesday a photo of the BU Bridge's sorry state of concrete holes, I didn't realize that the Boston Herald had posted a story two days earlier on the BU Bridge. Stupid me, I don't read the Herald on a daily basis. The Herald's story was a response to their request for "Citizen Inspectors"; I responded to them two days earlier than that, on Friday 8/3, telling them about the BU Bridge (see comment #3). People have been discussing online the Boston Herald article on the BU Bridge. The Herald also posted a database of the 560 Massachusetts bridges classified as "structurally deficient" in the National Bridge Inventory.

So why do I revive this over-done story on the BU Bridge?

In the Herald article, the DCR spokesperson said that the bridge is safe, and is not structurally deficient:
The Boston University Bridge - an urban eyesore of rusting metal, crumbling concrete and perilous sidewalk cracks - is due for rehabilitation work but is not considered to be one of the state’s 560 “structurally deficient” spans.

“It may need work, but it can still take the statutory loads,” said Wendy Fox, spokeswoman for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the bridge connecting Boston and Cambridge. “The point is, it’s not on the list because it’s not considered to be structurally deficient.” [italics added]
Yet the Herald's database lists it as structurally deficient (see last entry that page), my extraction from the NBI database finds it to be structurally deficient, and I even included a Google map link based on the latitude and longitude in the NBI database to show which bridge the NBI is referring. The NBI classifies with a "1" (="structurally deficient") in character #427 of each entry line in its database to identify this class of bridges.

Assuming I haven't made a mistake in figuring out which bridge is which, or in understanding the entries and classifications in the NBI, then it sure sounds to me like the DCR doesn't even know which of their bridges are classified as structurally deficient. How embarrassing, if not outright incompetent on the part of the DCR.

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