Thursday, November 29, 2007

El Valle Bridge is Falling Down

El Valle bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,
El Valle bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

Did you know that the London Bridge nursery rhyme goes back almost a thousand years, to the destruction of London Bridge by Viking invaders, led by King Olaf II of Norway in 1014? In fact that ill-fated bridge over the Thames was destroyed and rebuilt many times: the wooden bridge was burned by Olaf I, torn down by Olaf II, destroyed by a tornado of all things about 80 years later, and then burned down again in the early 1100's.

Finally, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine - the "fair lady" - commissioned a new bridge with permanent stone construction. Eleanor was queen of both England and France, mother of Kings Richard and John, and perhaps the most powerful and wealthy European woman of the Middle Ages. The new bridge was completed under the reign of her son, King John, and was so well built that it lasted over 600 years.

I don't expect El Valle de Anton to be invaded by Vikings, but our bridge is shut down nonetheless. El Valle actually has three main bridges that I can think of, all on the main road: one at the entrance of town, just past Centro Commerical; one in the center of town, just before the Melo store and chicken shop; and one past the church.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a small pothole developing in the middle of the center bridge. This is a crucial bridge, since 90% of the town's traffic passes over it at some point. Nothing was done, and the hole widened, until it was a literal hole in the bridge - you could see the water rushing down below. The rebar held, but the concrete was gone.

Now there are two holes in the bridge, and the police have taped it off so no one can cross. This means that anyone who wants to get from one side of town to the other by vehicle must go all the way around on Calle de los Millonarios ("Millionaires Street"), which is itself badly rutted and potholed and is in no condition to withstand heavy traffic. Other vehicles are using smaller side streets - most of which are unpaved, just dirt and grass - as detours, and are digging ruts and holes in these small residential roads.

Cherry, a friend of ours, dropped by yesterday and told me that she ran into a woman named Irene near the market. Apparently this Irene is a wealthy woman with connections. Cherry talked to her about the bridge, and Irene said, "Usually someone has to get hurt before they fix things. But I'm seeing the President today, I'll mention it to him."

I guess there's some benefit to living in a town where some residents lunch with the President. Let's see if it gets fixed quickly or not.

Update: they welded a steel plate over the hole in the bridge, but since then another hole has begun to open up to the side of the plate. For now it remains open and driveable.

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