After Wednesday’s horrific collapse of the arched truss bridge over the Mississippi, it was natural for Philadelphians to wonder if their decrepit South Street Bridge is safe. The converted railroad bridge, built over the Schuylkill for the Centennial celebrations of 1876, has been shedding its concrete skin like someone with a bad sunburn. Trucks and buses weighing six tons or more were banned in January. And likebridges.gif the Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota, the South Street Bridge has been tagged with the ominous federal designation “structurally deficient.” You can almost hear nervous officials bleating in unison for the long-planned $50 million reconstruction to start immediately.

INGA SAFFRON: This Is No Time To Panic!
UPDATE: MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 3 — A fifth person has been confirmed killed in the Minneapolis bridge collapse, officials said Friday, and the toll is expected to rise as crews laboriously search the twisted concrete wreckage and the debris-filled waters of the Mississippi River. While authorities initially estimated that at least 20 people were missing, Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said Friday morning that officials knew of only eight people who were unaccounted for. Search crews are working slowly and under extremely dangerous conditions, and officials have said they may not know for sure how many people were killed for several days. [via WASHINGTON POST]

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