SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary: Humor

A Bridge (Story) Too Far



August 18, 2018
Saturday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
I've always been a sucker for those compilation stories that the Main Scream Media trots out on slow news days.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

You know, the ones that come up with "lists" of all the important "whatevers" in every state or country. You've seen them.

Best Restaurants in all 50 States! 

Cheapest States to Retire In!!

100 Absolutely Awesome Public Restrooms in America!!!

Recently I took issue with one of those "stories" floating around the internet that concluded that Ketchikan is the "poorest" town in Alaska. We are not.

I have also occasionally fulminated  on several other ones in the past that seem to conclude that either Sitka is the "prettiest" town in Alaska or is one of the "best" small towns in America.

Not that I am concluding that Sitka is not "pretty" or is not one the best small towns in America. It most certainly is on both counts. It's just that my initial reaction to such pronouncements is a full throated "SEZ WHO??????" as if I was still standing next to the monkey bars at Houghtaling Elementary arguing over who's mom was the smartest.

I mean these lists are generally pretty subjective and sometimes their results - such as Ketchikan is the "poorest" town in Alaska - are downright laughable.

So naturally, when a story on the "Most Dangerous Bridges in All 50 States" popped up on my computer screen, I immediately started clicking away to find out more.  Natch, I was curious about which  bridge - according to Business Insider - is "The Most Dangerous Bridge" in Alaska.

Bridges have been in the public consciousness the past few years because every so often one of them fails, usually spectacularly. This is because many of them have gotten old and have not been maintained.

As a pseudo politician, I get why that happens. It's one thing for an elected official to "cut the ribbon" on a shiny, brand new bridge. That picture - always taken on a sunny day - runs in the local newspaper and everyone, especially the relatives, is really, really impressed. Newspapers never run photos of bridge rehab projects. No one cuts ribbons for those sorts of things.

But I digress.

Besides,  I just want to make the point that just because a bridge is old, it doesn't mean it is "dangerous."

Once upon a time people like the Romans and Greeks built bridges that lasted (sometimes still last) for centuries. Of course, we do don't that any more because if a bridge lasted centuries, we wouldn't build new ones and therefore politicians would not get their picture in the paper cutting ribbons on new bridges. Plus the economy would be deprived of the multi-million-dollar stimulus - and traffic headaches - that new bridge projects always bring.

Anyway, it would make no sense for anything to last forever, economically. That was why I never understood why Willy Wonka wanted to create an "Everlasting Gobstopper." You  would only sell one of those to each person. Hardly a good business model.

But I digress again.

We were talking - before I so rudely interrupted myself - about bridges. Dangerous ones.

Fortunately, Business Insider is there to let you know all about the dangerous bridges out there. The ones that have been determined by the Federal government to be significantly in need of repair. That's a tough task. America has approximately 600,000 bridges according to the US Department of Transportation. Just about 65,000 of them are need of "serious" repair.

Does that mean they are going to fall down tomorrow? Probably not. But you just never know.

So Inside Business (who's business it must be to get government contracts to repair bridges) has decided to stir the pot. and get us all hepped up about bridges falling down, right here in River City.

That the explains the list of "most dangerous" bridges in every state.

And naturally, I have "buried the lede."

Inside Business says the most dangerous bridge in Alaska is in Ketchikan.

More or less.

Specifically, Inside Business says the most dangerous bridge in Alaska is the "South Tongass Highway over Hoadley Creek in Ketchikan Gateway County."

Come again?

Well, first of all, the South Tongass Highway doesn't go over Hoadley Creek in Ketchikan Gateway County.

There is a bridge over Hoadley Creek but it would be Tongass Avenue before it eventually turns in North Tongass Highway. And there isn't a Gateway County in Alaska,

Also, the photograph that Inside Business posted to go with its blurb on the "dangerous" Hoadley Creek bridge is actually of the Stedman Street bridge over Ketchikan Creek, which is currently undergoing a spendy rehab that will - ostensibly - make it much less dangerous.

But these are just details.

Is the Hoadley Creek bridge in need of repair? I suspect so.

Is it "dangerous?" Probably not.

Technically, the state of Alaska does not consider the Hoadley Creek bridge to be "dangerous," merely "structurally deficient."

Like Inside Business appears to be.



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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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