January 8, 2012

Broken Bridges




     This newspaper headline caught my attention. Immediately thoughts flitted across my mind…thoughts of all the broken relationships I’m hearing about…interpersonal, intercommunity, international…broken bridges that need to be healed before we can experience interpersonal, intercommunity, and international peace.

     My eyes turned to the article: PennDOT is spending more than $63 million to fix the deteriorated bridge that stretches more than a half-mile, connecting four Western Pennsylvania counties.

     The half-mile “deteriorated bridge” the article references is the less-than fifty-year-old hulking Freeport Bridge. This steel deck truss bridge spans the Allegheny River about thirty miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

     When Monte and I travel between our Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, home to our Slippery Rock property, crossing this bridge is part of our journey. I’ve been unaware of its danger as I’ve ridden over it, enjoying the impressive view of the Allegheny River below its structure.  (Photo from PENNDOT Freeport Bridge home site, link to further informaion and photographs in sources list below.)

     Four years ago a similar structure, the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed. Thirteen persons were killed. One hundred forty five others were injured.*

     Are we in danger of being dropped in the river when we drive across the bridge span? I hope not—and I hope no one else is, either.

     The bridge is currently being repaired and rebuilt. When we cross it we must pay attention to the redirection signs.

     Hopefully the structural improvements will be beneficial. I only hope that, in the repairs and new construction, that they won’t put a barrier up that will hide the view of the river. Too many other bridge repair/reconstruction projects have done this.

     Many relationships are harmed by broken bridges, causing them to fall into the waters below the bridge.

     Perhaps the time has come to heal both types of broken bridges. Maybe then we can begin moving towards peace.



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* (the phrase BROKEN BRIDGES appeared in the Greensburg Tribune-Review print newspaper, July 31, 2011)  LINK TO Pennslvania Department of Transportation’s Freeport Bridge home page, article and photographs.


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