I felt a tad uneasy this morning on my drive to work. I was at the top of the Blatnik Bridge, sitting in bumper-to-bumper backed-up traffic, hundreds of feet above the St. Louis River. You could feel the bridge bounce and flex as traffic passed by.

The bridge is aging, and it's set to be replaced in the next few years. It's served its purpose and has been around for nearly 60 years. It's already had its weight load reduced, and it is inspected year after year and repairs have been made.

Related: Tight Fit! Watch 1,000 Footer Thread Needle Under Blatnik Bridge

Yesterday morning the cargo freighter Dali lost power in Baltimore and crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The 100,000-ton freighter crushed the supports of the bridge and most of it came crashing down. It was a real tragedy.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship
Getty Images

How does a lake freighter compare to the cargo freighter that crashed into the bridge?

The cargo freighter that hit the bridge in Baltimore weighed roughly 100,000 tons. That's a lot of weight. How much weight can a fully loaded laker carry? Not quite as much, but fully loaded they can haul roughly 80,000 tons. That's more than enough to cause some damage.

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Some bridges have 'bumpers' to protect support columns.

There are a few ways engineers design bridges to protect the support columns because this isn't the first time it has happened. Sometimes they use underwater islands outside of the channel to stop a vessel from hitting the bridge.

Duluth Harbor Cam YouTube
Duluth Harbor Cam YouTube

'Dolphins' Act As Bumpers

The Blatnik Bridge has concrete structures called 'dolphins.' They are designed to absorb the impact of a ship and redirect it away from the support columns. You can see the cylindrical structure here.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Memories of I-35 W Bridge Collapse In Minnesota

Seeing the bridge collapse in Baltimore hit close to home for a lot of people in Minnesota who still remember the I-35W Bridge Collapse in 2007. That was caused by a design flaw in gusset plates that were also present and replaced on the Blatnik Bridge.

New bridge coming by 2030s.

A new bridge is in the planning stages. Construction could begin as early as 2026, and by the early 2030s, it should be completed.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF

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