Contractors working to repair the Sunshine Bridge set jacking brackets in place the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, along the bottom of the bridge in St. James Parish. Far below is the Mississippi River. The brackets, which each weigh 1,500 pounds, will eventually be used with jacks to realign the damaged bridge and handle stresses that are now bearing on a damage metal beam, allowing a new beam being fabricated to be installed. A crane barge hit the bridge Oct. 12, damaging the original beam. Some of the jacking equipment has already arrived while the replacement beam is being fabricated, state highway officials said.

We live in a state that lays claim to belief in small, limited government. I do not believe the federal government should involve itself in the local issue of a business so foolish as to collide its barge with a public bridge. I do not believe even the state government should do more than police the riverways in much the same way as it does the roadways. After all, trucks hit bridges also.

After Sunshine Bridge crash, interest renewed in sensors alerting pilots to bridge clearances

If you are running a multimillion-dollar business, if you pay tens of thousands of dollars a year in commercial business insurance premiums, if you employ hundreds of highly competent professional employees, then perhaps you should buy a microwave or laser sensor suite electronic system to tell you the exact vertical distance from your sensor platform to the lowest reflective edge of a bridge. This is the modern era. No one needs to ballpark guess any distance. The United Kingdom even deploys a modern unclassified radar satellite. You can obtain the height above sea level of any place on earth. We are deeply into the modern electronic age. There are sensors that operate underwater, in outer space, and yes, even on the Mississippi River. They do everything except walk the dog. They will even get you through daylight saving time without the old problem of falling back and leaping forward.

The new age has dawned, and personal corporate responsibility is fully realizable. We actually do not need the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to help or to blame. Buy your own sensor and use it. They even work in the fog and at night. Know where you are, by means more 21st century than the memories of old river pilots. Our submarines, during the Cold War, penetrated into Soviet harbors. Technology that was classified in the 1980s is unclassified in the 2010s. Use it.

Michael Eric Burnside


New Orleans