Skip to comments.Bay Area bridge collapse offers lessons
Posted on 05/01/2007 5:57:23 AM PDT by BenLurkin
SAN FRANCISCO - The experts paid to worry about disasters and terrorism have for years warned of collapsing highway bridges and exploding tanker trucks. They just never foresaw one event that would encompass both. Nonsense
Local, state and federal government officials have "war gamed" a failed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge again and again, most recently in November, when a statewide exercise envisioned a 7.9-magnitude earthquake bringing down part of the span.
The drills proved useful in responding to Sunday's wreck in which a tanker truck struck a guardrail, overturned and burst into flames, taking down a critical overpass. To some officials, the accident produced a best-case outcome, yielding potentially valuable lessons at little human cost.
"It's almost your perfect tabletop exercise real pristine, clean, and nobody got hurt," California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Wright said.
The snarled highways envisioned for the region didn't materialize Monday, as many commuters seized on free public transportation, avoided rush hour or just stayed home.
While crews sifted through the wreckage, outside experts did their own analysis. In one line of inquiry that could improve future responses, some scientists were studying linkages between the freeway collapse and how the World Trade Center came down on Sept. 11, 2001.
The structural failures appear similar, said David McCallen, division leader in nonproliferation, homeland and international security at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The steel supporting the overpass turned pliable after the gasoline-fed fire below reached temperatures up to 2,000 degrees more than four times as hot as the hottest conventional home oven.
The big difference between a blast and a fire is the fire takes time, "which gives you the potential or the option of responding," McCallen said. In this case, it makes sense to look at better ways to douse fuel-based fires, McCallen said.
Hard lessons gleaned from other past disasters also were being applied as engineers prepared for reconstruction. The downed overpass, a vital artery linking San Francisco and its eastern suburbs, carries some 80,000 vehicles a day. Inspectors X-rayed about a dozen pillars supporting the ramp near the collapsed section to see if they could be salvaged.
Originally built in the 1950s, the collapsed roadway was retrofitted to withstand earthquake damage in the late 1990s. But rather than rebuild the ramp according to already existing blueprints, engineers will likely overhaul the interchange to conform to today's more stringent seismic standards, California Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Weiss said.
"Whenever you can start from scratch, you do so," Weiss said.
The incident and its aftermath also raised new questions about those behind the wheel of big trucks, such as the man hauling 8,600 gallons of unleaded gasoline during the crash.
While the government screens the thousands of truck drivers who haul hazardous materials around the country most recently requiring that they undergo FBI and intelligence background checks it was unclear whether the system worked in the case of tanker driver James Mosqueda.
Court records show that Mosqueda had a criminal record that included convictions for heroin possession and burglary. Yet apparently all the paperwork for him to get his trucking license was in order, the California Highway Patrol said.
An initial investigation revealed that the truck may have been speeding, but drugs and alcohol were not suspected as factors in the crash, CHP Officer Trent Cross said.
Mosqueda had recently renewed his commercial driver's license and his driving record was free of any crashes or violations before Sunday, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
City officials quickly called for a policy review Monday. "Someone with that record has no business driving hazardous materials on our highways," state Assemblyman Pedro Nava said.
Transportation Security Administration rules require a five-year waiting period after a convict is released from prison until he or she can qualify to haul hazardous materials. Since Mosqueda was released in 2001, he became eligible in 2006. However, under TSA rules, multiple felony convictions can also permanently disqualify many drivers.
After the crash, Mosqueda, 51, wandered more than a mile through darkened streets in Oakland with second-degree burns to a gas station and hailed a cab to take him to the emergency room, according to police and the taxi driver.
Mosqueda had been a driver for his current employer, Sabek Transportation, for about 10 months when the crash occurred, said CHP Officer Trent Cross.
Several calls to Sabek by The Associated Press were either hung up on or forwarded to a voicemail box for Tom Saberi, who has previously been listed as an attorney for the company. Saberi did not return any messages.
I recall a 911 conspiracy blog saying of course it melted, it's aspault.
Yeah I remember the Mianus River collapse.
And the Civic Center roof caving in.
People, you gotta see some of the comments here:
Rosie O’Fat would be shaking her head at the stupidity of some of these comments.
We need the picture of Rove at the controls of the world weather machine...
The Democrats weakened those DHS laws....they want to give illegals drivers licenses for crying out loud.
The Dems reaped what they sowed on this one.
There was also a Bridge on Route 80 in Denville NJ that was damaged by a tanker fire on June 21,2001. That particular bridge had concrete beams and it STILL was weakened to the point it was unsafe and had to be replaced.
http://www.nycroads.com/roads/I-80_NJ/ (bout half way down the page)
"Call me insane, but didn't that overpass look like it was brought down in a controlled implosion?"
Full tanker trucks do not explode; they burst into flame upon rupture and contact with an ignition source, then burn until smothered or the fuel is exhausted.
LOL... Charlie Sheen(and his assclown father) are UNCONTROLLED implosions.
Rosie isnt the only one touting that “Fire doesn’t melt steel”. She might have brought that to the media’s attention, but there are idiots out there screaming about it for the last few years now.
A lot of the anti-gun people would like the sheeple to think that it is harder to get a drivers license or a car than a gun.
Of course this is nonsense. If gun rules applied, this clown would never have gotten a driver’s license, much less a commercial truck license.
That's the sort of thing people do when they want to avoid a sobriety test. Leaving the scene is a far lesser penalty.
LOL! You’re sily.
...and to keep the price of gasoline up, too. You forgot that aspect of the cabal.
Yeah - Take good pictures, that “liquid metal” is going to evaporate soon.
“Diagonal cuts” ??? (The bridge deck is sloped!)
Funny..... If it weren’t so sad.
Has anyone thought of spontaneous combustion? With that many liberals living in the Bay area all that hot air.