With a son who is a structural engineer working for a firm designing bridges, whenever I see a news story about a bridge collapse, it catches my eye. There is one such account in the news today about a bridge section that fell into a river yesterday in Washington State – north of Seattle. A truck accident caused the failure, which involved a couple of vehicles unable to stop and thereby plunging into the stream.
But here is the part of the story that caught my eye and … well … I found a bit offensive actually…
The bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but a Federal Highway Administration database listed it as being “functionally obsolete” — a category meaning that the design is outdated … The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80 … but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.
Hey, I take offense to this since I was also “built” in 1955! Well, I guess I should take some encouragement from this, because, like the bridge, though I’m not currently rated as “structurally deficient” (meaning “dead”), I guess my horribly aching knees acknowledge that I am “structurally obsolete.” That is a sanitary engineer-esque way of saying you’re “getting old and out of date.”
And like the bridge, which will have the broken section replaced with some artificial structure, I guess that is what awaits my knees … ugh!
One thing for sure, my bridge engineer son will never be without a job … nor will any orthopedic surgeon doing knee replacements. But when you think about it, they actually are both structural engineers.