It is one of those coincidences that can destroy political careers. Exactly three months before the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed transportation spending bills that would have repaired infrastructure such as the I-35W bridge. The very same day that the bridge collapsed, Republicans in the state legislature sustained those vetoes.
It is just a coincidence, the bridge would have collapsed regardless of whether the bills passed or failed, were signed or vetoed. But, it will not go without notice that the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota wanted to fix the bridge while the Republicans went that extra mile to ensure the bridge would not be repaired or replaced.
There are six reasons a man-made structure like that bridge falls down:
1) Deliberate human attack (terrorists, Canadian air force bombing mission)
2) Act of God (earthquake, tornado, flood)
3) Unavoidable accident (such as a barge breaking loose its moorings and hitting the bridge)
4) Shoddy construction (at 40 years old, we can conclude the initial construction was sound)
5) Slipshod inspection
6) Knowingly avoiding needed repairs (The principle reason for not making repairs is a lack of money)
Initial reports point to number 6. There have been inspections that reported the bridge had stress fractures and it had been rated as "structurally deficient." What will be interesting is what the state, what the Governor's office, did with those inspection reports.
My best guess is the government made the conscious decision to retain a structurally deficient bridge rather than raise taxes. In the cold cost-benefit rational of government, the bridge would have to be replace when it collapsed anyway so replacing it earlier would be a waste of money. As for the risk to human life, that is a minor economic factor not worth considering.
TOTH to PissedonPolitics for leading me here.
Additional Nasty Bit of Kismet: The 2008 Republican National Convention will be held in the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota. A short six miles away from the fallen I-35W bridge. Think anyone will notice?