The California Economy and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge: An apt simile

On Tuesday October 27, 2009 a section of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge that  had been repaired in September failed, causing minor damage and massive traffic congestion. Normal traffic on the Bay Bridge is maddening at best, but try tacking a couple of hours on to your commute home on a cold and windy Tuesday evening.

The initial repair was completed during a scheduled closure of the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend, as workers slid a piece of replacement span into place. Massive repairs, and a brand new span of the Bay Bridge are being readied for service. It really is an incredible display of engineering, and amazing efforts by the contractors. However, they discovered a cracked tie rod, that supports a section of the supporting cable on the eastern span of the bridge. Crisis!

A workable replacement was fashioned, and installed, only delaying the re-opening a few hours into the Tuesday morning comute. Pretty good work actually. The repair was was deemed ‘stronger that the orginal!’

As I looked at the photos posted online Tuesday night, one in particular from the San Francisco Chronicle struck me. It was traffic I had seen before, notably in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, but honestly, Bay Area traffic looks likes this all the time.

But this photo told a story. Therein lies the political, and therefore, economic, tale of California.

We found a problem.

Its uber scary.

We found a way to fix it at the last moment.

With a great deal of inconvenience.

Aren’t we clever!

A miracle!

Better than evah!

Crisis averted!

Your salvation is at hand! Look upon us and prostrate yourselves at our feet, for the good that we have done unto you.

All better!

Within 8 weeks:

Oh no! Its broken!

Worse than evah!

Woe is us.


Lather, rinse, repeat.

Often, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Photo by Noah Berger / San Francisco Chronicle
Photo by Noah Berger / San Francisco Chronicle






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