[By Shideh] As you might have heard by now, one of the key road bridges over the Mississippi river in the US collapsed during the evening rush hour on Wednesday. At lease seven people were killed and 60 injured according to most news sources. About 50 vehicles went into the water as the structure collapsed. Tons of concrete crashed into water in addition to a freight train passing underneath that was crushed under the collapsing bridge.
(pictures courtesy of BBC)
It’s interesting to see how the news sources and policy makers across the US have, all of a sudden, become highly aware of the importance of infrastructure safety and of the necessity of spending a significant portion of their budget on annual inspections and retrofit of old structures. I think we will see an increasing trend in such discussions among the politicians and the media for the next few months, which is great news for all civil engineers who have been fighting for budget increase.
It’s sad that we do not think about infrastructure until something goes wrong. It is extremely important for Tehran and Tehranis to learn a lesson here. I personally expected a much more aggressive approach for inspecting and retrofitting all public facilities in Tehran after the Bam tragedy. It seems to be human nature not to worry about things that are not immediate threats, no matter what country we go to. Tehran, however, seems to be unique in that it has been classified as a high risk city, its risks are clear, it has extremely intelligent researchers, practicing engineers, and officials on board, yet no significant change is occurring as many still treat these risks as those with an improbable nature. It is extremely urgent for each Tehrani to try to raise awareness and act towards creating a safer Tehran. Especially Tehrani youth can make a world of difference by talking to their parents and by making their voices heard by the officials. Infrastructure safety and pollution are two immediate threats to the lives of all Tehranis and they should be treated as such.