Living At Ground Zero – Part 1
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard the “Redundancy Argument” when listening to proponents of a government owned bridge across the Detroit River. With my background, it strikes me as a very odd argument. I ask myself who would believe such nonsense? It is such a blatant non-starter it is a no brainer. But then I realize that not everyone knows what I know, and when those who support a government owned bridge start with the Redundancy Argument, I can understand that some, who don’t know any better, would take them at face value; they just wouldn’t dig any deeper than the surface. But we all know that’s not how The Square operates.
The Redundancy Argument goes like this: A DRIC bridge situated about 2 miles downstream from the location of the Ambassador Bridge would act as a backup if terrorists, trying to disrupt the flow of goods across the busiest border crossings in North America, decided to attack one of the bridges.
The argument got underway in 2004 when back-ups of trucks along Huron Line were a daily occurrence.
He [Doug Switzer] said another crossing is needed to provide “redundancy” in case the Ambassador Bridge is imperiled by major accidents or a terrorist attack. (Truck News, 1 February 2005)
Maybe whomever started the argument was well-meaning. It is possible the point was being made that the Ambassador Bridge could be a terrorist target (any bridge or border crossing could be) and security measures should be taken to mitigate any such attack. Somehow the point being made was twisted into a government bridge downstream would somehow be protected from collateral damage during an attack on the Ambassador.
For example, a statement in a Toll Road News article is a prime example of the Redundancy Argument run amuck.
In taking the initiative for an emergency replacement bridge the company is undercutting a major argument being made for the necessity of a new crossing named DRIC and located downstream and some 3.2km (2 miles) away, sufficiently far to protect it from any terrorist bomb attack on the Ambassador Bridge. (Toll Road News, 30 July 2010)
Can you see the problem with that?
This isn’t a one off for Toll Road News, either. The trucking news source has taken umbrage on the occasions when the Redundancy Argument has been questioned, refuted, or dismissed.
[Robert A.] Sedler argues the DRIC cannot meet a “necessity test” for the US president since (1) traffic has been in decline and the need for extra capacity is unproven (2) the DRIC is too close to the Ambassador Bridge to provide redundancy in case of attack.
But the second is totally wrong. Sedler has a vastly inflated notion of the radius of damage from a bomb.
Your editor was introduced to bombs as an infant bei der Luftwaffe which fallen ein grosse bombe – one about the size of a car bomb 250kg – on the house across the other side of the street in Cambridge England. We had windows and doors blown out and some ceiling plaster fell in but no structural damage – at less than 30m, 100ft. Also as a defense correspondent I got to know a bit about bombs, especially mortar bombs one night in the wild Parrot’s Beak part of Cambodia around 1969-1970. (Toll Road News, 27 July 2010)
With all due respect to the “editor”, an improvised, current-day truck bomb is not comparable to the WWII type flung out of aircraft (as you’ll see later), nor anywhere similar to a mortar. As someone who has tossed countless high explosive artillery rounds, I can tell you that the smallest such round in use has a kill radius of 30m with a danger radius of 100m (within which you could expect some shrapnel, rocks etc, to land on/around you). I would suggest that the “editor’s” neighbourhood was typical of British streets and the blast of the “grosse bombe” was absorbed mostly by the terraced houses in direct line to the point of impact.
But the point I am trying to make has less to do with the wide open expanse of a non-obstructed Detroit River between the Ambassador Bridge and any DRIC bridge. I wouldn’t be too worried about a truck bomb going off and affecting the structure/operation of a bridge two miles away.
In Part 2 I will address the tactical fallacy behind the Redundancy Argument.
This was Part 1 of the second in a series of articles deconstructing the arguments for a publicly owned, down-river bridge between Windsor and Detroit.
Short URL: http://www.windsorsquare.ca/?p=19128