‘NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse’ Is A Good Companion Piece To ‘NOVA: Operation Bridge Rescue’

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Early last year, PBS Distribution presented an episode of NOVA titled Operation Bridge Rescue in which the story was told of a group’s efforts to rebuild the Blenheim covered bridge in New York State after it was destroyed by a hurricane in 2011.  The story also focused on efforts in China to protect existing ancient covered bridges from the elements.  That dual presentation is a story that while maybe not the stuff of blockbusters, is still an engaging and entertaining work.  More than a year after that episode of NOVA was released to DVD, PBS Distribution has released a companion piece of sorts to that episode with the recently released episode Why Bridges Collapse.  This episode of NOVA continues the theme of preserving bridges that was featured in the aforementioned episode Operation Bridge Rescue, and builds on that theme by taking the story in a new direction.  This will be addressed shortly.  The episode’s secondary story, which addresses the concerns about the nation’s aging infrastructure, is another important element to address.  It will be discussed a little later.  When these two elements are considered together, they make the DVD’s average price point such that audiences will not mind paying said cost.  Each item noted here is important in the overall presentation of NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse its own engaging presentation and an equally interesting companion piece to Operation Bridge Rescue.

PBS’ recently released NOVA episode Why Bridges Collapse is an engaging new look at America’s aging infrastructure.  Specifically, it is an engaging new chapter in the look at the matter of the world’s aging bridges.  This topic was already addressed last year in another episode of NOVA, Operation Bridge Rescue.  This episode essentially picks up where that aforementioned prior episode left off.  It left off with the happy ending of the reconstruction of the Blenheim Covered Bridge, which was destroyed by mother nature in 2011.  This episode continues the discussion by turning the attention to bridge collapses that happened not because of mother nature, but because of age.  One of the bridges in question – the Morandi Bridge, located in Genoa, Italy – serves as the basis for the discussion.  The episode follows authorities’ efforts to find out why the bridge collapsed in 2017, claiming more than 40 lives in the process.  Along the way, audiences are also reminded of the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35 West bridge in Minneapolis, MN that happened in 2007 and the equally tragic collapse of the Silver River Bridge in1967 in Point Pleasant, WV.  No, there is no mention of the alleged Mothman here.  Rather, that story finds that an aged portion of the bridge is what led to the collapse.  In the same vein, it is also found that aging (and improper construction) is what led to the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis.  These revelations eventually lead to the same finding in the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy.  As it turns, out, poor construction of that bridge led to corrosion over the decades since its completion.  That corrosion eventually led the noted supports to break, and to the bridge’s collapse.  In the same manner, improper construction of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis led to the corrosion and weakening of that structure to happen at an increased rate than otherwise would have.  Corrosion was also found to be an issue in the Silver River bridge collapse.  Simply put, aging of the bridges, and lack of proper attention to the structures is what ultimately led to the tragedies.  This brings things full circle back to Operation Bridge Rescue.  It has to be assumed that those who rebuilt the Blenheim Covered Bridge took that issue into consideration in their construction efforts.  This discussion in itself more than makes this episode of NOVA engaging.  When it is tied into the episode’s secondary topic, that of the need to address the nation’s (and world’s) aging infrastructure, it makes the episode even more interesting.

The matter of addressing America’s (and the world’s) aging infrastructure is noted in this episode, but is limited to a minimum.  Even with that limitation, it is still there.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have talked for ages about the need to address America’s infrastructure (including bridges), but sadly for all the talk, no action has resulted.  Bridges are economic lifelines for nations around the world.  They ensure that people and goods can get to where they need to go every day, but unless governments at every level actually address the concerns surrounding bridges, these tragedies are likely to continue happening.   So while the comment made here about making sure bridges are cared for is brief, it is an important portion of the program in its own right.  It is a starting point in much-needed discussions on getting our nation’s infrastructure updated.  Hopefully those discussions will lead to actual action regardless of which side of the aisle that action comes from.  Keeping this aspect of the program in mind, it works alongside the program’s overall story to make the episode that much more engaging.  Keeping all of that in mind, the episode’s primary and secondary content makes the documentary well worth the watch.  They also make the DVD’s average price point positive.

The average price point of NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse is $19.44.  That price  was obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  The lowest list price among the listings was $16.79 (Amazon, Walmart, and Target).  The price went up from there, coming in at $17.99 at Best Buy, $19.99 at PBS’ online store, $22.74 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and $24.99 at Books-A-Million.  While Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million once again break the average price point for a PBS DVD, PBS’ own price is just barely over that point, making it a worthy choice for consumers.  What’s more, save for the two noted higher-priced listings, most of the listings don’t break the $20 mark.  That means that once again, save for the two noted outlets’ listings, audiences will not break the bank when they purchase the DVD.  What’s more, the money spent on the DVD will go back to PBS, if only a portion when purchased through retailers other than PBS.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact and value of the DVD’s content, all three items come together to make this latest addition to PBS’ bridge-centered NOVA episodes another positive presentation both by itself and in conjunction with its companion program, Operation Bridge Rescue.

NOVA: Why Bridges Collapse is a positive new episode of PBS’ hit science-based series that will appeal to anyone having anything to do with the world of engineering and to audiences in general.  That is proven in part through the program’s primary content, which tells the story of how construction and age is what leads to so many of America’s (and the world’s) bridges collapsing.  The secondary content – the message about the need to address that aging infrastructure – adds to its interest.  That is because it is a message that the world’s leaders (especially America’s elected officials) need to hear.  All of this together makes the DVD’s average price point of less than $20 a cost that audiences will appreciate.  It is a point that is affordable for any viewer.  Keeping that in mind along with the DVD’s primary and secondary content, the whole of the DVDs presentation proves another successful offering from PBS.  The DVD is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

 

 

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