Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Walking Pace

A few years ago the I35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed.  Thirteen people were killed and one hundred and forty-five were injured.

This photo was taken from the east bank, underneath the new bridge that replaced it and you can see a retaining wall failure on the west side of the Mississippi River.  It looks as if the ground underneath the roadway is giving way as well.

These are the kinds of things you notice when you move at a walking pace.

I had just begun to ask myself who I would call to notify of the erosion when I noticed the orange safety barrels at the bottom; someone already knows about the problem.  I decided to trust that someone was monitoring it.

A couple of days later I got a better look from the other side.

This is not the first landslide along the improved banks of the Mississippi.  Why just last year the hillside gave way just outside my workplace.  They still haven't re-opened the roadway beneath it.

The thing is the Mississippi, and all rivers, are not stationary.  They move over time but the things we build do not.  There is a Sapien hubris at work when we build a structure to last two hundred years where the river will want to be in seventy-five.

We may call this era the Anthropocene, but our power is not totalitarian.  Our actions may move the planet one direction or another but the laws of physics are not suspended.

We'd do well to remember.

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