Baltimore bridge collapse raises concerns about SoCal's bridges. How safe are they?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024
How safe are SoCal bridges? Baltimore bridge collapse raises concerns
The collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge is raising alarms about the bridge safety in Southern California, like the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

The collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge is raising alarms about the safety of bridges in Southern California.

The Vincent Thomas Bridge is a key connector in the Los Angeles and Long Beach Port complex. They are the largest ports on the West Coast with container ships constantly moving through.

"In some way it surprises me that more accidents like this don't happen," said Adam Rose from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.

In Baltimore, a massive container ship lost power and was adrift when it struck the bridge, causing it to collapse and plunge into the river.

Local authorities have yet to confirm the identities of those missing but have said they include construction workers who were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Most, if not all, are from different countries.

The bridge in Baltimore had its pylons on the water, where a ship could hit them. The Pylons for the Vincent Thomas Bridge are on land.

In Southern California, experts say the main threat is an earthquake.

"It's an earthquake zone. I think you have the Inglewood Newport fault running through there, but it needs a bridge so the response then is to make that bridge especially strong," Rose added.

READ ALSO: A list of major US bridge collapses caused by ships and barges

Between 1960 and 2015, there have been 18 bridge collapses in the United States. Any problems with any of these bridges could disrupt a vital shipping port for months.

"It increases congestion for everyone. It spreads those losses broadly, and then we have the supply chain where production gets delayed downstream, and you have the port upstream, which is inoperable and it compounds things even further."

PHOTOS: Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses after cargo ship rams into support column

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A container ship rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md.
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Rose said this also raises questions about the infrastructure in the country. He says there needs to be long term investment that would cost billions to upgrade roads and bridges.