Entries in Bridge (6)


Sentences Handed Down in Ohio Bridge Bomb Plot

Hemera/Thinkstock(AKRON, Ohio) -- Three men convicted of a plot to blow up an Ohio bridge last spring received stiff prison sentences Tuesday in an Akron courtroom.

Douglas Wright, the admitted ring leader who goes by the name of "Cyco," got an 11-year sentence, while co-conspirators Brandon "Skabby" Baxter and Connor Stevens will spend nine and eight years behind bars, respectively.

The anarchists and two other men had planned to destroy the four-lane Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge spanning the Cuyahoga Valley National Park by detonating improvised devices containing C-4 explosives.

However, their plot was foiled by undercover federal agents and they were taken into custody on April 30.  All pleaded guilty last September to charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.

One of the other two defendants will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Minnesota Bridge Collapse Anniversary: How Safe Are Drivers Now?

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been five years since more than 100 cars were traveling over a bridge on I-35W during a Minneapolis rush hour when it suddenly collapsed, dropping cars from the interstate into the 15-foot-deep Mississippi River below and trapping many passengers inside.  Before they could escape, 13 people died and another 145 were injured on one of the worst bridge disasters in U.S. history.

A formal investigation took more than a year, but once it was finished the National Transportation Safety Board said the cause of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge tragedy was a simple design flaw in the bridge's gusset plates -- metal plates that help connect one steel beam to another.  At that time, NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said the board's investigation would "provide a roadmap for improvements to prevent future tragedies."

But five years after the collapse, Andrew Hermann, the president of the American Society of Engineers, told ABC News that while the nation has an aggressive bridge inspection program, the government is still not spending enough money on updating and maintaining the nation's infrastructure.

"Congress basically lacks the courage to do what is needed to raise the funds," he said.  "Bridges require maintenance, and maintenance and rehabilitation require funding... Politicians like to show up and cut a ribbon on a brand new bridge, but they don't like to show up and applaud a new paint job that may increase the life of a bridge."

At the time of the Minnesota bridge collapse, ABC News reported that the bridge had already been classified as "structurally deficient," meaning that while it was not deemed unsafe enough to close, it did require maintenance.

According to the Department of Transportation, bridges can be put on waiting lists for "replacement or rehabilitation" if they are classified as structurally deficient or "functionally obsolete;" the latter meaning the bridge was built prior to modern standards but was not necessarily unsafe.  A common example of a functionally obsolete bridge is one with road lanes that are too narrow.

When the Minnesota bridge collapsed in 2007, approximately 25.4 percent of the nearly 600,000 bridges in the U.S. were considered either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the DOT.  By 2011, the number dipped to 23.8 percent, still leaving nearly 150,000 bridges in the same categories.

But transportation officials stressed that it does not mean American drivers are traveling on thousands of unsafe bridges -- just ones that may need some type of repair or more frequent inspections.

The Federal Highway Administration "has implemented measures to more closely oversee the inspection process and identify inconsistencies and non-compliance," FHA Administrator Victor Mendez told ABC News.  "While there are a number of bridges that are typically more closely monitored than others based on their condition, they are structurally safe.  Unsafe bridges are closed."

The FHA said that bridges are generally inspected once every two years, depending on the bridge's age and traffic patterns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NYPD Officer Talks Man from His Hometown Down from Bridge

ABC(NEW YORK) -- A minor miracle on the upper deck of New York City's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge may have helped save the life of a suicidal Chinese-American man.

Soon after police responded Monday afternoon to a report of a man who had parked his car on the bridge and gone "over the edge," they learned that the man spoke only Cantonese. They then summoned Officer Yi Huang, a Cantonese-speaking Chinese-American, to communicate with him.

Huang, who patrols the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown, quickly arrived at the scene and began speaking with the man, who he learned hailed from his hometown, Taishan village in China's southern Guangdong province.

Huang learned that the man, shown in photographs clinging to a bridge cable at mid-span wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, was "despondent over arguments he had been having with his 18-year-old daughter, and also was upset over finances," according to a statement from the New York Police Department.

"Officer Huang … spoke of his own family's experience and asked him to think about seeing his daughter at her wedding, or meeting his grandchildren," according to the statement.

Huang, who immigrated to Chinatown with his family when he was 4 years old, had to shout to the man from a distance of 10 to 15 feet — if he came any closer, the man threatened to jump, he said. An ominous thunderstorm approached and winds gathered force as the men negotiated for hours, severely backing up traffic to the bridge, which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, a group of visitors to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, at the bridge's western end, had a clear view of the drama as it unfolded.

At about 4:30 p.m., a streak of lightning flashed above the bridge. Shortly afterward, witnesses said, the man finally walked over the railing to safety.

The man, whose name was not released, was transported to Staten Island University Hospital in good condition, the NYPD said in the release.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FBI Arrests Five In Alleged Ohio Bomb Plot

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has arrested a group of anarchists who allegedly plotted to use high-powered explosives to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio, and enlist homeless people to attack financial institutions in downtown Cleveland.

Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, all self-described anarchists, have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Two other men Conner Stevens, 20 and Joshua Stafford, 23, were also arrested and may face similar charges.

According to the criminal complaint, last October the men began discussing plans to knock bank signs off of buildings in Cleveland. The men allegedly discussed the idea of using smoke grenades on the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Cleveland to create a diversion while they carried out their plan to topple the bank signs.

Wright, the alleged ringleader, had also discussed trying to recruit homeless people from shelters to carry out his plans to attack symbols of corporate and financial institutions.

The men were identified after a paid FBI informant alerted the FBI to their alleged plans to target the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge on Route 82, which spans the Cuyahoga River south of Cleveland.

According to the complaint, the FBI informant recorded numerous conversations with Wright in which he discussed the need to obtain explosive devices or make them using the book The Anarchist Cookbook.

Brandon Baxter allegedly told the informant that destroying a bridge would cause great financial harm.

"Taking out a Bridge in the business district would cost the … corporate big wigs a lot of money," Baxter allegedly said.

Wright and Baxter also discussed trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland.

The FBI said they used the informant to facilitate the men getting C4 explosives that they would use to target the bridge. According to the criminal complaint, Stevens and Stafford were recruited towards the end of their planning to help them execute the attack. The men were arrested as they allegedly arranged to pick up the explosives.

"The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot," said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. "The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cargo Ship Plows Through Kentucky Bridge

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BENTON, Ky.) -- A cargo ship plowed through a Kentucky bridge, leaving a 300-foot gap in the middle of the structure and carrying off a load of the bridge's asphalt and metal on the ship’s bow.

The 312-foot-long ship, the Delta Mariner, struck the Eggner Ferry Bridge in Benton, Ky., at about 9 p.m. on Thursday. The ship was too tall to pass under the structure, and destroyed two sections of the bridge.

Four cars were on the bridge and 20 workers were on the ship that was carrying rocket parts, but no one was injured.

Inspectors and emergency responders from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet rushed to the scene to assess the damage.

The bridge was in the process of being replaced.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Jumps Off 40-Foot Bridge: 'I Thought I Was Dead'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Bianca Vera was driving through the winter weather across an icy bridge in Atlanta, when a driver sideswiped her, knocking her car into the guard rail. When the 22-year-old opened her door and saw a truck barreling toward her, she jumped 40 feet into the icy water of Lake Lanier.

As she fell, she heard the truck smash into her car, followed by a series of crashes as more cars piled up. "I thought I was dead at that point," Vera said.

Vera hit the water, and in immense pain, swam 100 yards to the shore in the dark. She didn't realize it at the time, but she had broken her back in the fall. "Everything went numb, the water was so cold," Vera said.

Vera screamed, but no one answered. The icy swim took nearly an hour. Once on shore, rescuers heard Vera's cries.

"I think she's very lucky,” said deputy police chief Jerome Yarbrough.

"I can't take anything for granted, nothing at all. And I was obviously put here for a reason. God spared my life. I have a purpose and I just have to find it," Vera said.

Once in the water, Vera remembered to take off all of her winter clothes and her boots so she could swim faster. She credits her quick thinking to watching television. Apparently, Vera and her boyfriend are big fans of the show Man vs. Wild.

Vera spent four days in the hospital. In addition to breaking her back and severe bruising, she also suffered from hypothermia in the cold water.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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