I-5 Collapse Caused by Megaloads

25 May

by Swift

Despite the media’s attempts to blame the collapse of the I-5 bridge in northern Washington on issues of poor infrastructure development, a little birdie told us here at the EF! Newswire that there was something more to the tale. So we dug around, and sure enough, the I-5 collapse was caused by a megaload-baring truck carrying a part of a house across the bridge.

These megaloads are commonplace on a lot of highways, although their weight makes them a formidable opponent to the highway system—particularly roads in more far flung areas of the country. One particular example of the tremendous problems caused by megaloads is occurring in Idaho, where Wild Idaho Rising Tide is trying to stave off tar sands infrastructure from taking its toll on the wild and beautiful highways that trace through places like the Rocky Mountain Front and the gorgeous Blackfoot valley along Highway 200 made famous by the film A River Runs Through It.

The problem is not the crumbling infrastructure—the problem is the megaloads, the system of commerce that burns through fossil fuels as though climate change didn’t exist, and the corporate robber barons that deflect any and all criticism of business as usual onto more development, more development, more development. Industrial civilization might be bringing down its own infrastructure, but hey, it wouldn’t hurt if it had a little help from some friends from time to time.

4 Responses to “I-5 Collapse Caused by Megaloads”

  1. Jason Burroughs May 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    The bridge being collapsed by an oversize load carrying truck is exactly what the media said from the beginning. I live in Seattle, and heard it not only on the local radio and TV (including KOMO, which you cited), but also CNN and other major news outlets.

    Read this – http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/2013/05/what-caused-the-skagit-river-bridge-to.html. It explains how older bridge designs pre-date many of the newest and heaviest vehicles on the road today, and describes how design changes in the modern era would prevent this type of event from happening if the same vehicle crossed it again.

    When you say “the problem is not the crumbling infrastructure”, you’re essentially saying that there is only one cause of any problem, which is a childish way of lashing out at industry from doing such things as “using fossil fuels as if climate change weren’t happening”. Of course there are multiple factors.

    What if that truck was carrying a mobile home to a disaster area for relief, or moving a crane so that a high school could be built in an impoverished area? I’m just making the point that not all transportation is evil.

    I own a grease-to-biodiesel business (and work for a sustainability non-profit), and understand that the status quo approach to the world has major problems. But posts like this don’t help. You’re implying that there is some mass media conspiracy to hide the real facts in this case. The fact is that our infrastructure does require maintenance, and due to the conservative party not wanting to fund anything other than defense spending, our roads and other systems have not been maintained. The fact that we should have high-speed rail and be riding bikes a lot more doesn’t affect the fact that when roads and big bridges are needed, they need to be maintained.

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      I think you and the author fundamentally disagree on a lot of things.
      1) The think the “mass media conspiracy” you cite might be industrial civilization—in other words, there is no attempt to look beyond the chronic problem of development itself.
      2) High speed rail is very problematic for a lot of reasons. The freeway system is one of the worst destroyers of the environment in the US. What if society wasn’t made for cars? Maybe it would be harder to get around using commercial vehicles (not emergency response), but ppl would also die from cancer and traffic accidents a lot less (not to mention our four legged friends).
      3) With regards to the “childish argument” you point out, I think you have totally, whether willfully or unwittingly, ignored the dialectics of the article. The article is saying ‘let the infrastructure crumble!’ In other words, it would be a good thing for many of the roads to be depaved, and the land restored to wildlife habitat. Think of logging roads, for instance. Most national forests have thousands of miles of logging roads in them, with only a fraction in use. What if the infrastructure of this country needs to crumble?

      • Jason Burroughs May 31, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

        Thank you for your reply. To let you know where I’m coming from – I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s and was a punk rock (not the black leather jacket kind) skateboarder for many years. I was a vegetarian and very politically aware. I also got Earth First! and other environmental type of magazines and newsletters when possible (not often). However, the years passed and I found a career in IT, and like so many people, moved on to other things in life.

        Fast forward 20 years – on 9/11/2001, I bought a Dodge Viper and was driving around getting 8MPG. The irony of my life and the type of person I had become was not apparent to me at the time, but after a few years and a couple of wars, it really sunk in. I heard about biodiesel in 2005 and was hooked. I spent many many nights and weekends hauling grease, speaking to the public about the potential of biodiesel to replace dirty diesel, and so much more.

        The entire time, I maintained my day job in the IT world, and lived a double life of environmental activism and office work. I got married and started a family, which was tough with the workload I was under. I eventually left the corporate world and took a job with a biofuel sustainability non-profit. I have spent the last 8 years or so reading about peak oil, sustainability, community-scale solutions to problems, and lots of other systemic issues.

        I eat a vegan diet, own a bike (and a 40MPG+ diesel car powered by biodiesel made from used cooking oil collected in my town!), and work from home.

        All this is to say that I genuinely care about the future of the human race and the planet, and am not only outspoken about these kinds of issues, but feel like I have a lot to learn.

        I’m surprised to hear you say that high speed rail is not a great alternative to the freeway system we have today. Rail is, on a per-mile basis, the best way to transport goods and people – from an environmental and economic basis. While it’s true that a transportation conduit of any kind (road or rail) displaces something when it’s built, I think some environmentalists have a (in my opinion) naive view that we can somehow stop development and go back to an agrarian time without long-distance transportation and travel. The genie is not going back in the bottle (short of a cataclysmic event), and my approach is to work with what we have and try to reform it as much as possible. I believe that have having strong low-carbon incentive programs (mandates, carbon taxes, etc.) globally is a great first step towards getting the public to recognize these issues and deal with them according to their true impact.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office June 1, 2013 at 1:14 am #

        Hi there,
        It’s funny that you mention a cataclysmic event. Mass die offs, desertification, global food crisis, and intensifying natural disasters aside, you’re right… We also have examples across Europe of anti-high speed rail movements. Think of, for instance, the Tarnac 9, the No TAV struggle in Italy, and Stuttgart 21 in Germany… High speed rails often bring up class issues by cutting through traditional rural areas and small towns with noisy infrastructure that distresses people and, rather than bring people into town, whisks them swiftly away. Usually people who use high speed trains are wealthier commuters, and it just provides greater infrastructure to enhance the power bases of metropolises. There are also several environmental problems with high speed trains.
        – sasha

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