NOT feeling safe today, Burghers.

Gov. Ed Rendell said today the Pennsylvania motorists can have “a reasonable degree of confidence” that bridges in the state are safe to drive across, but said he can’t give an absolute guarantee that a bridge collapse, such as happened in Minnesota yesterday, will never happen here.

You know what?  As a resident of the City of Bridges who daily drives over probably 952 bridges, I’m not taking much comfort in hearing The Gov’nah say he has “a reasonable degree of confidence” that my car will never be found at the bottom of the Mon.

What I want to hear from The Gov’nah is, “I am so confident in our bridges that I would personally drive the space shuttle with loaded rocket boosters over every bridge in the state.”

THEN I could sleep soundly.  All I know is that today I gave the Homestead Bridge one of those “collapse and die” looks while I drove over it.

I scared.


  1. Dave
    August 2, 2007 4:29 pm

    Yea, I’m on the Smithfield Street museum piece every day….he needs to try the space shuttle on THAT relic.

  2. SeanCollier
    August 2, 2007 4:42 pm

    It’s really bizarre, and not to go all messages from the great beyond on ya, but I seriously felt the Homestead Bridge shake a little (normal bridge style) on the way to lunch yesterday afternoon and thought to myself, “What the hell would I do if this started to go?”

    Then later that night, the news.


  3. Pensgirl
    August 2, 2007 5:25 pm

    I (sadly) now live in Maryland, and one thing I have to appreciate about Pittsburgh’s bridges is that they’re pretty short. Homestead’s a longer one but it still feels quite small compared to the ones here. That means there’s less time for trouble to happen while you’re on it. Here, they seem to think bridges should go across the widest part of the relevant body of water. Case in point: the Francis Scott Key bridge. They weren’t kidding around with that one.

    I’m not afraid of heights or anything like that, but the one and only time I drove across the Key bridge, I was pretty apprehensive. You can see pictures of the approach and cross here (though they really don’t do the live view justice). What I found daunting was seeing it for a few miles, looming ominously in the air above the trees, as I approached (from the West). Who can see a BRIDGE over TREES in a relatively FLAT location? Yikes! Then the long, curved ascent across the windy Bay (and the fact that a pickup truck with a trailer swerving dangerously back and forth stayed right next to my little – and new – car no matter how much I changed my speed) really gets the heart rate pumping. And that was before any of these bridge/overpass collapse stories of the last few years.

    I really feel for those people who were there. They might never feel safe in or on a structure like that (or even other ones, like highrises) again.

    Oh, and…in Pittsburgh at least you know you’re riding on good steel. Yep, ya got that.

  4. toni
    August 2, 2007 8:24 pm

    Wait till we get the T’s megabuck tunnel under the bridge….

  5. toni
    August 2, 2007 8:25 pm

    * I meant under the water

  6. Goob
    August 2, 2007 11:22 pm

    One of the things that I find at least a little bit comforting about the bridges around here is that we’ve still got a pretty good pool of engineering talent. The 31st used to give me the shakes: the McKees Rocks -still- gives me the shakes. But I’ve got a fair amount of faith that there are folks out there paying attention that know more about them than I. Or at least are more nervous about them. Plus they seem to be fixing things.

    (An excellent resource for obsessively looking up bridges around here used to be at, but that seems to be offline at the moment).

    Of course, I go over the Greenfield Bridge at least twice a day, which I’m pretty sure makes me an idiot.

  7. PittCheMBA
    August 2, 2007 11:24 pm

    The Gov’nah is usually driving so fast that if a bridge collapsed, his vehicle would launch itself safely across any gap in the bridge.

  8. Trish
    August 3, 2007 7:01 am

    Gah, Pensgirl, I know what you mean about the Key Bridge. I’m not religious, but I cross myself and chant several Hail Marys before I drive over that thing. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge between Virginia and Maryland and the one on I-95 in Maryland over the Susquehanna River (which I always seem to cross in the worst weather) are also, um, adventures.

  9. PittGirl
    August 3, 2007 7:49 am



  10. Danopsu
    August 3, 2007 8:39 am

    PittCheMBA, do you mean ala the Dukes of Hazard? But the good Gov’nah couldnt play Dixie as he was in the air…hmm what could he play? Lemme get back to you on that

  11. M. Silenus
    August 3, 2007 8:52 am

    I love the Burgh, but still have family near Bawlmer, and if anything is obvious in the trips back and forth it is that Maryland maintains its infrastructure far better than PA. We have potholes here that have their own lake effect, but I don’t see that when I drive into Maryland. Admittedly I haven’t been in Baltimore proper very much of late, so they might have some of the same issues we have with disintegrating roads, but we can’t even keep rocks from tumbling onto 28. Ugh.

  12. Johnny
    August 3, 2007 9:35 am

    Bridge above the trees is nothing. The Millau Viaduct in France is above the clouds.
    It is the world’s tallest road surface bridge. Good thing they drive fast.

  13. cityworker
    August 3, 2007 9:58 am

    there is nothing wrong with the greenfield bridge, i could find 30 worse for you in the city

  14. Gunn Lino
    August 3, 2007 10:59 am

    With all the windbags in positions of power providing lipservice to the decayed state of our bridges, has anyone noticed that the bridge over the parkway near the Squirrel Hill tunnel has had netting hanging under it for what ? Twenty years?

    Who would the windbags blame should that piece of shit collapse ? Eisenhower?

  15. NY Luvs Pitts
    August 3, 2007 11:23 am

    Our Gov’nah here in the great Empire State said that although some of our Bridges have a rating of poor they are still good enough to drive on. This includes the Brooklyn Bridge which is 124 years old (3 times as old as the bridge that collasped), failed it’s last inspection due to rusting steel joint (could ya’ll send us some new steel please) and was rated “structurally deficient,” putting it in the same category as the one that collapsed into the Mississippi River. In fact, under the the feds’ rating system, the Brooklyn Bridge scored dramatically lower than the doomed Minneapolis bridge. In fact, according to the NY Times “The bridge is scheduled for a reconstruction to begin in 2010, a project expected to last two to three years.” How ya like dat?!!!?? I guess we have to pray if we should have to cross the Broolyn Bridge in the next three years. And you’re scared in the Burgh. But 4real, can ya’ll send us some new steel?

  16. Shibori
    August 3, 2007 11:35 am

    I’m guessing the Gov’nah has never had the pleasure of driving over the Rankin bridge, which seems to be made entirely of rust.

  17. NY Luvs Pitts
    August 3, 2007 11:39 am

    Is there enought “Rust-Be-Gone” at the Home Depot to fix these bridges?

  18. bucdaddy
    August 3, 2007 11:43 am

    This is a pretty serious subject for y’all to be making me laugh so much …

  19. pittgirl
    August 3, 2007 11:48 am

    Word. These readers are cracking my shit up.

  20. Pensgirl
    August 3, 2007 1:18 pm

    Actually, M. Silenus, I live in Baltimore City and while the major highways are for the most part better in MD, the local roads here are absolutely awful. I saw a recent report that said 40% of those roads are basically in terrible shape (compared to about 28% in the Pgh area), and that seems about right to me. They also don’t know how to do proper snow removal down here, and they salt when they shouldn’t (for example, when we get a dusting that will melt with ten minutes of sun exposure).

    The one bridge at home that looks ominous to me: Rankin. That thing looks like it’s about five minutes from crumbling.

  21. M. Silenus
    August 3, 2007 1:49 pm

    Pensgirl, I’ll trust you on that. Baltimore is a weird place in that the city is a totally separate politically entity from Baltimore County, and so much about infrastructure has to do with who’s in charge. On the bright side, I’d be surprised if anyone but the state handled the Key Bridge… and drivers don’t slow down to a crawl when they go through the Harbor or Fort McHenry tunnels :~p

    Rankin Bridge is definitely a nasty, scary bridge. Even my 4 1/2-year old daughter mentioned how it needed to be painted when we were on our way to the Waterfront recently. I’m gonna guess that painting is the least of its needs.

  22. Sofa King
    August 3, 2007 2:25 pm

    God bless any good Pittsburgher who finds themselves living in the land of the Baltimorons. The roads are terrible up there, but I guess they’re just keeping up with the general theme of the city, which is apparently “Welcome to America’s Worst Case Scenario!”

  23. Pensgirl
    August 3, 2007 4:46 pm

    Thank you, Sofa King. When my ‘Burgher friends and family ask me how I like Bawlmer, I say “Have a job that could bring me home?”

  24. Sofa King
    August 10, 2007 9:58 am

    Oh, I can definitely feel for you. The depths of my hatred for that hideous, brain-dead town know no bounds. Seriously, people joke about Yinzers, but they haven’t seen anything until they’ve been around Baltimorons. To get a true Baltimoron…like someone from Dundalk, you need to take a hardcore Yinzer, knock 25 points off of the IQ, and make them 33% more loud, violent, and obnoxious.

    That being said, Preakness was pretty fun this year. Disgusting and crass, yet, but fun.