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Did the truck or aging infrastructure cause the bridge collapse?

The bridge collapse in Washington state last week has sparked talks all around the country on the importance of keeping up with the aging infrastructure across the U.S. For while this bridge collapse happened in another state, there is nothing saying a similar accident could not happen in Chicago.

At this point, Washington state officials are saying the bridge was structurally sound and blaming the crash on a truck hitting its support beams, while the trucking company claims the truck driver was given permission from state transportation officials to cross the Interstate 5 bridge. This has led to some questioning why the company was given permission and just how safe the bridge was to begin with.

The collapse itself happened on Thursday night. The truck driver hit at least one of the support beams before the collapse. Two vehicles -- a car and a pickup -- ended up plunging into the water below.

Officials for the state claim the bridge went through two inspections within the past year and was structurally fine to be driving on. However, the National Bridge Inventory Database has the Interstate 5 bridge listed as being "functionally obsolete."

Being "functionally obsolete" does not necessarily mean the bridge has anything structurally wrong. It just means it was not built to current standards.

A spokesman from Transportation for America also added that many of the older bridges in the U.S. are now carrying way heavier traffic than ever envisioned. 

At this point the National Transportation Safety Board has set out investigators to the collapse to look at all parts of the bridge. This will hopefully determine if the cause was just the truck or if the aging infrastructure played a bigger role.

In general though, as a Chicago resident what do you think of local infrastructure? Are updates needed? Should there be stricter rules on where truck drivers can and cannot drive?

Source: Chicago Tribune News, "Washington bridge collapse: Truck hit support beam, officials say," May 24, 2013

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