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    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    Don’t wait until catastrophe, fix Gold Star Bridge now

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore brings ominous thoughts of 'what-if' to all but the most oblivious commuters between Groton and New London. I cross the Gold Star Bridge every day to get to work. As an engineer, I have been waiting with growing trepidation for serious construction work to take place on the northbound span. When is the GSB going to receive the major repairs it desperately deserves?

    Our bridge received the same DOT "poor" rating as the Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed in Pittsburgh, just two years ago. The GSB's northbound span, with its weather-worn deck and corroded trusses, was originally completed in 1943. Its steel is older than the recently refurbished southbound span, which thankfully withstood the heat of the tragic tanker truck fire last spring. I can't help but wonder what effect a similar accident would have on the northbound span. Certainly, a tanker truck and a container ship are set apart by multiple orders of magnitude of gross tonnage, but when the factor of safety has been eroded by time, the force of even a small accident might be enough to set off a catastrophe. Enough things have fallen down around here lately. Fix the GSB!

    Christopher Benamati

    Pawcatuck

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