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Northwest Washington Bridge Collapse: Reminds me of Ellis Bridge

May 24, 2013

Yahoo reports this morning that a four lane bridge over a river north of Seattle collapsed but there were no casualties even as 3 persons were sent to hospital; and shows a picture of collapsed bridge along with 2 cars dumped in shallow water.

More information here:

No fatalities in I-5 bridge collapse in NW Wash

(Link @

The AP article states that built in 1955, the bridge was designated as functionally obsolete. ‘It had a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.’

‘Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 infrastructure report card. The group said more than a quarter of Washington’s 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.’

It also talks about how many bridges in that county are more than 50/ 70/ 80 years old.


Our own case: Ellis Bridge


The collapsed bridge somehow reminded me of Ellis Bridge (Long ago rechristened as Vivekanand Bridge but I can’t seem to relate to the new name) in Ahmedabad. Ellis Bridge has crossed its designated life span of 100 years during which it did commendably well too. But after being rendered functionally obsolete, even if the same terms were not used, a new function has not yet been assigned to it. I have not heard of any attempts to check if it is structurally deficient, or is still good to go after the expiry date. Even if it were, being narrow, it is certainly not enough for the new age traffic. It’s present is far less glorious than it’s past: Ensconced in railings and roads passing on both sides, without even a pedestrian access to it, with trash thrown on it’s tattered tar surface, it certainly makes a sorry sight.

Ellis Bridge is in the last cycle of it’s life, and has been decaying and neglected before someone thought of putting a set of two roads around it, or as happened recently, of letting it go. Happy that the idea of demolishing it has been reversed thanks to some laudable citizen activism and good sense on AMC’s part. But it is going to take much much more to really ‘save’ Ellis Bridge.

Bring on the accessibility, improve the geometry, revitalise the whole area, add the infrastructure, educate the citizens, sensitise the decision makers… we are all stakeholders in this!



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