Inspecting the inspectors

The collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis last August had to strike fear in the hearts of bridge inspectors everywhere.


Except, apparently, for one inspector in Atlanta -- who has resigned after allegedly confessing to faking bridge inspections since last fall.


Even if the gentleman felt inundated with work, and couldn't inspect the bridges he was responsible for in the amount of time given him, he should have spoken up -- to superiors, to the governor, to the press -- and warned us that the inspections weren't getting done.

But reports indicate that at least one inspector in the team had taken a lot of time off from work.

And to falsify reports -- to claim that he's inspecting bridges when he isn't?

In one case, the team in question claimed to have inspected 18 bridges in one day. Even if true -- and supervisors had reason to doubt it, due to distances between bridges -- that would be a breakneck pace that wouldn't lend confidence to drivers.

This is not just wrong, it's highly dangerous. This inspector might have put people's lives in danger.

And remember, this was on the heels of the deaths of 13 people in the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis last August.

Now, not only will the state Department of Transportation have to make do with two fewer bridge inspectors -- the disgraced inspector's partner also resigned, though not admitting wrongdoing -- but the department will have to send in other experts to inspect 54 bridges whose inspections were falsified and another 68 whose reports are suspect. Plus another 278 bridges the team hadn't gotten to.

The disgraced inspector's team oversaw 1,300 bridges in Rockdale, north Fulton, Gwinnett and part of DeKalb counties, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution .

The newspaper had reported after the Minneapolis collapse that "more than one in five Georgia bridges were considered by the government to be in need of repair or designed to old standards."

The state insists no regularly traveled bridges in the state are unsafe -- but this latest scandal certainly calls that claim into question.