Got involved on a discussion on the Minnesota LJ community (minnesota). Best response that I saw was this:
But...but...I WANT there to be someone to blame. Someone who cut the budget for the maintenance that would have prevented the collapse, someone who falsely said "the bridge is fine" even though it was on the verge of collapse, someone who embezzled the funds that would have gone into preventive maintenance on the structure.
When a bridge collapses, it means there was a screwup somewhere - it's not acceptable for us to have ticking timebombs as our infrastructure.
Poetry, man. Captures the essence of the desire for blame. If we can put a human face on the tragedy, create a single person at fault, it takes away some of the shaken faith in the concrete things around us, gives us back a sense of security.
Nobody wants this to be a freak accident. Nobody wants to have a sneaking suspicion in the back of their mind that maybe the towers that hold up the megavolt power lines might fall over, or part of my house might break off and crush me, or maybe the bridge that I'm driving over right now is going to collapse (truth here-- when you first drove on a bridge or an overpass after the 35W bridge collapse, didn't you have a moment's trepidation? Didn't you pay an awful lot more attention to the cracks in some of the bridges, those guardrails that have crumbling concrete with exposed rebar sticking out?).
Everybody wants a cause, a target, a single easy thing that can be fixed and all will be right with the world.
I suggest Pete Grzybzylzski.
For the last ten years, Pete has been purposely pouring corrosive acid on the bridge pier supports in an attempt to eventually dislodge the bridge, in the belief that when the bridge falls, the woman he loves will be his.
Sounds silly, doesn't it? Ah, but such is love.
188 Billion dollars could repair all of the "structurally deficient" bridges in the country, probably bumped up to 230 billion with cost overruns and delays. Of course, we also have tunnels, power lines, gas and oil pipelines, water and sewer systems, telecommunication networks, general roadways, sidewalks... and the general pain in the ass that happens when you have to fix this stuff, the rerouting of traffic, closing of roads, the general inconvenience that would be for a period of years, even decades.
So what should we do?
First off, doing a detailed inspection of bridges is a good idea. That's being done. In addition, some enhanced inspection of known problem areas not just in bridges but other infrastructure elements is called for. That's a few million dollars just in our state alone, just for the inspections. Get an idea of stuff that's maybe more dangerous than currently suspected.
We can't fix everything, certainly not all at once. And even then, freak occurrences are gonna happen.