SC

The Ravenel Bridge Has A Problem

… AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ICE S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and her scandal scarred Department of Transportation (SCDOT) experienced all sorts of problems with the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. bridge during two recent winter storms – problems which resulted in lengthy closings of the critical Lowcountry artery. How…

… AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ICE

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and her scandal scarred Department of Transportation (SCDOT) experienced all sorts of problems with the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. bridge during two recent winter storms – problems which resulted in lengthy closings of the critical Lowcountry artery.

How bad are things? Well, Haley and her administration are currently reviewing the bridge’s warranty in an effort to determine what can be done to rectify the situation …

But does the Ravenel Bridge – a.k.a. the “Cuz Way” – have a much bigger problem to deal with? Something that overshadows its poor performance during winter storms?

One knowledgeable shipping industry source says “yes.”

According to our source – whose calculations are drawn from documented industry data – the Ravenel Bridge is not high enough to accommodate many of the world’s largest new container ships.

That could put the port of Charleston at a severe competitive disadvantage in the years to come … compounding existing competitiveness problems.

In a recent article in a Charleston, S.C. business publication, S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) director Jim Newsome discussed the need for the government-run Wando Welch terminal to “ramp up in size and weight and force” in order to accommodate new Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) that hold as many as 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs – the common shipping industry metric).

Currently the Wando Welch terminal is only equipped to handle 4,000 TEU-sized ships.

Unless the facility upgrades, Charleston could miss out on business from shipping companies that are purchasing the new larger ships.

What did the article neglect to mention? That many of these larger ships will never make it to the Wando Welch terminal – which is located on the far side of the Ravenel Bridge (meaning ships that call on the facility must pass under the bridge).

Big deal, right? Surely this massive span – which opened less than a decade ago – was built with these larger ships in mind, correct?

Apparently not …

The lower deck of the Ravenel Bridge is only 186 feet above the water at low tide … which is fine for 4,000 TEU-sized ships that have an average “air draft’ on call of 143 feet. Same for 6,000 TEU-sized ships – which have an average air draft on call of 153 feet, 3 inches – and 8,000 TEU-sized ships (175 feet).

Any bigger than that, though, and there’s the potential for serious problems.

What kind of problems?

“The ships Newsome is talking about draw 2 more feet of water, carry 4500 more TEU’s (2250 containers) and would rip the Ravenel Bridge off its moorings,” our source says.

Yikes …

The numbers would seem to bear out that contention. A 10,000-TEU sized ship has an average air draft on call of 194 feet, 11 inches – nearly ten feet above the Ravenel Bridge’s low tide clearance. A 12,000-TEU sized ship has an average air draft on call of 196 feet.

A 14,000-TEU-sized ship? Forget about it …

“Our competitors know this which is why they laugh at us,” our source says. “I don’t laugh – I think it is unfortunate that we are paying Jim Newsome $350,000 a year and he isn’t being straight with us.”

Much has been made of the need to deepen Charleston harbor to accommodate the next generation of super-large container ships – and that’s an important debate.

Also an important debate? Whether state governments should manage their port facilities (most of them turn this responsibility over to private sector providers – which is consistent with the editorial position of this website).

But the ability of next-generation container ships to safely pass under the Ravenel Bridge is also an issue that needs to be addressed – if for no other reason than their inability to do so would expose colossally poor planning on the part of state leaders who spent $632 million in taxpayer money on this bridge.

FITS has reached out to the SCSPA regarding this issue and we look forward to bringing you the agency’s response. In fact we’ve promised SCSPA leaders equal time (and space) on our website for that very purpose.

So stay tuned …

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92 comments

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

If this is true, then this is an epic failure. I’d like to see more about the Panama Canal expansion proposal dates to see whether the state planners can be held responsible. I know construction didn’t begin on the Panama Canal expansion until 2007, which was a couple of years after the bridge opened. If they knew the canal expansion was a possibility and still built the bridge too low, then that’s an epic failure. If nobody knew this was coming, it’s hard to blame the state planners.

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venomachine February 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

The ships FITs references are exceed PANAMAX, I believe. The bridge started construction in 2001, with basic design at least five years prior to that.

I wouldn’t call it an epic failure, but it is an aw poop kinda moment.

But it just boils down to Monday morning quarterbacking. Predicting the future is a bizzitch.

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easterndumbfuckastan February 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

228 feet, the height of the Narrows bridge in New York harbor is the world standard. I don’t understand why Charleston and Savannah didn’t build their bridges 228 feet above mean high tide.

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GrandTango February 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

Right now, the Sheheen flunkies (like FITS) are just looking for an opening. They are heading for a loss, w/o something more than Obama. Haley has been staunchly against all of the bad Obama policy…and that will carry her to an easy win over Sheheen.

This, like so many of FITS’ scandals, is manufactured…FITS actually has the opposite impact of what he wants to do, unless Haley is actually paying him…

I’d be surprised if anything comes from it…considering the source.

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Will Folks aka Sic February 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Sheheen? You mean the guy whose campaign we recently reported had reached its nadir? -> https://www.fitsnews.com/2014/01/22/vincent-sheheens-nadir/

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GrandTango February 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

FITS and/or Liberal-Tarians have NEVER been known to play both sides…have you???…LMAO…

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SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Most Dems don’t like him either… so who does that leave? SC will never rise again.

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venomachine February 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I hope both candidates face, and lose to, opponents in the primaries.

Neither one was a good choice in 2010, neither one is a good choice now.

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SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm

We can agree on that but who is the alternative? I don’t see one at present.

venomachine February 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I don’t either, but I really hope someone does. Two someones.

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Rise again to what?

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SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

From the bottom of the pile, where we are now.

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

When were we previously risen?

SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Well, previously we weren’t in the bottom of the heap. Prior to the TP I guess. That’s a start.

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Well the Tea Party started in 2009, so I’m guessing you’re hankering for the good old days of 2008? Things don’t really seem that much worse today than they were then.

Thomas February 18, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Yea, well, not so fast. Our bridge opened in 2005. The Panama Canal Authority announced the new PANAMAX ship sizes in 2009. The Panama Canal expansion program beginning in 2009 is expected to be completed in 2014.

http://www.pancanal.com/common/maritime/advisories/2009/a-02-2009.pdf

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TontoBubbaGoldstein February 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Indeed.

Who could have possibly anticipated the building of larger container ships in the future?

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john dozier February 18, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Where did I put those witches?

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Vanguard16 February 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Easy, quit importing cheap Chinese shit!! Problem solved!!

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Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

You do know that ships don’t just deliver stuff to Charleston, they take it away as well right?

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Jay Ellington February 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I just shipped my pants.

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Scrappy February 18, 2014 at 12:54 pm

The SCPA may not have known the larger ships were being designed at the time the bridge was built. One thing is for sure though, Gov. Haley and SCPA knew the proposed Jasper terminal had no such obstacles to overcome to accomadate the larger ships. Hence the reason they are dredging the Savanah River to allow the larger ships into Savanah. Ironically the dredge spolis are being dumped in SC on the site of the proposed Jasper terminal..

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tomstickler February 18, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Spoils on the Jasper site is not a bug, it’s a feature. That site cannot be used until its elevation has been increased four feet over the entire site.

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EJB February 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Why the fuss, just dredge the river another 20 or 30 feet deeper?

Got ya, hell put a lock a quarter of a mile or so below and above the bridge and the water level can be lowered to let the big ships pass. Open the locks when there are no ships and the water flows freely.

Don’t laugh, they are likely to come up with something just as bad but it will only cost $750 million. After all to replace the two existing bridges with the Ravenel bridge they had to build a slew of other bridges, on ramps, off ramps and all kinds of crazy road work. That $632 million bought more than just the span across the water. Don’t worry, it’s only tax money.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Can we get stimulus money for that?

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Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Maybe, it’s a rich thing that could matter.Not in SC though, Pay more taxes Idiot! Elect Nikki again.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

If we only had a Solyndra.

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Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm

yep, solyndra with iraq and afganistan could make a difference.

EJB February 18, 2014 at 1:58 pm

If we planted trees and flowers around the locks and put
game trails across the top of the locks and fish ramps around the sides, we
might not only get “stimulus” money we might even get an environmental award
and perhaps an architectural award. The possibilities are endless.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Can we add a separate bike trail next to it, those are always nice, aren’t they?

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EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Ooooh, I like the way you think. Soytanly!

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:18 pm

yes we can, and faggots can have thier fun, just like republicans

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Let’s get stimulis for ? GM, Bankers? How bout ?
All the corporarions, a win ,win yeaaaaa,

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Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm

From my understanding, they were going to have to dredge the river anyways because the port is too shallow for the larger ships. Your idea of dredging it deeper is probably the likely solution. Creating a lock system where you lower the water level wouldn’t work since the water is already too shallow to handle the larger ships.

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SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Funding, we need funding to do that. Where will it come from?

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Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

South Carolina’s already offered $300 million and the Feds have already funded half of the cost. I will be surprised if it’s not fully funded in the next year or so.

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SCBlueWoman February 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Federal money!!!!!??????

EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm

We would tax the kids’ lemonade stands in the summer and
fine the illegal tourist story tellers year round.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm

If you tax the kid’s lemonade stand they’ll just increase the price of lemonade, charge them more for the permit.

EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

That is probably the better way but since I don’t drink lemonade from the kids’ stands (not kosher per DHEC) I went the easy route.

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

u r a stupid idiot. IDIOTCAM.

idcydm February 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Go fish.

EJB February 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Don’t think he likes you nor does he seem to appreciate your sense of humor. *pulls covers back over his head*

shifty henry February 21, 2014 at 7:04 am

CGI – prostitution – profits from the Bull Street Stadium – tax on those pedacabs – $1 million dollars from the General Fund every time a politician tells the truth or keeps a promise………..

easterndumbfuckastan February 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Port / terminal usage fees at Wando.

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EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

You would need the locks along with dredging the river deeper.

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Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm

What’s the point of a lock if the river is already deep enough? I thought locks were only used when the river was too shallow.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

It’s kinda like letting some air out of tires so the truck can get under the bridge.

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm

and the money comes from? YOU or NIKKI ?

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Good luck to the loss to GA.

EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm

The initial dredging they talked about was for the deeper draft of the ships. The locks would be needed to lower the water so that the part of the ship above the water line would clear the bridge.

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Seems like it’d just be cheaper to dredge it all the way the first time rather than dredge it halfway or whatever and build a lock system

idcydm February 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Dredging does not lower the water level below the bridge it deepens it. The boat is too tall to go under the bridge without lowering the water level under the bridge, hence a lock.

Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Gotcha. That makes sense now. I’m not sure why I was having such a hard time understanding it.

idcydm February 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Understand my friend, I get that bridge…er tunnel vision myself from time to time, unless you talk to my wife then I have it all the time.

easterndumbfuckastan February 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm

The water inside the canal / locks would be maintained at a lower level but deeper than the current river. Basically you would drop the level of the river say 10 feet below the current water level inside the shipping channel canals. You would likely need one on each side of the river for inbound and outbound traffic respectably.

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just sayin February 19, 2014 at 2:52 am

Yeah uhmmmm, 3 meters, uhmmm, we need a clearance of more like 20 meters for this idea to work you’d have the construct an underwater lock capable of dropping the vessel 20 meters or 65 feet. That’s about the same height as the Lake Moultrie dam and
lock system (+-10 feet).
It’d be cheaper build a new bridge.

Dang this is absurd February 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

To all you numbnuts – not just you Jackie – dredge all you wish and the ocean dumps that sand right back in the channel. Endless money after and unsolvable problem.

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Na, you just get some string filters, similar to what I have for my well, only much bigger, that should take care of it.

Numbnuts indeed, don’t you know anything?

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EJB February 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

and, and you can lower them and raise them like they did the
submarine nets during WWII (numbnuts indeed, who does he think he is!).

idcydm February 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm

and, if you can lower and raise them it makes them easier to change every three months but if you forget to change them the water might stop flowin.

EJB February 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Hey, making lemonade with lemons, it would be a free dam.

idcydm February 18, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I was just talking to my wife, you know the one that thinks I have tunnel vision, about this major problem we have with the boats being too tall. She’s got the best solution yet. Dredge the river deep, have a button on the bridge of the boat, not the bridge itself, that turns the boat into a submarine when you push the button. The boat/submarine submerges goes under the bridge. Push the button again and the boat/submarine turns back into a boat, problem solved.

numbnuts indeed.

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

You have a wife? Too funny?

Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Now I know who you are, Nikki;s husband, ooooommm Jake, right ?

shifty henry February 21, 2014 at 6:56 am

Give her a hug, a squeeze, a peck on her cheek, and treat her to dinner two times this week…..

shifty henry February 21, 2014 at 6:53 am

same principle as diapers..?

shifty henry February 21, 2014 at 6:51 am

but – but would they keep out the Iranian subs…?

Yep! February 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

“it’s only tax money”, hell-almost half of it isn’t even that…it’s simply created out of thin air.

Sure, it makes the cost of living higher later on, but ain’t things grand now? Why worry about later?

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TontoBubbaGoldstein February 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

For only a couple hundred thousand dollars, TBG is willing to submit a “Feasibility Study on the use of Bridge Stretchers Combined with Skyhooks” to help solve this issue…

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EJB February 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Such a DEAL !!!! I’ve heard of beam stretchers but I didn’t know they had bridge stretchers. Reminds me of the guy that said he cut a beam three times and it was still too short.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein February 20, 2014 at 7:26 am

Not to give out too much “free” info…. but a Bridge Stretcher is basically a ginormous beam stretcher (same principle). The Skyhooks are needed to raise and maintain the bridge at the proper height.

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Squishy123 February 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Only one solution, tear down the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and replace it with the Theodore Ravenel Bridge.

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EJB February 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm

There’s more than one way to skin this cat! Don’t let thoughts of money cloud your thinking, don’t look for simple or easy ways, pull out the stops, go for it!

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Squishy123 February 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

The cheapest solution, and most correct solution… send the ships that are too large to Savannah.

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Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Thanks to ? Nikki?

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easterndumbfuckastan February 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Won’t fit under their bridge either.

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Deo Vindice SC February 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Well when people like Tango live here, what ya expect?

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Jackie Chiles February 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm

People like you to be his neighbors.

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Holy (City) Crap February 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I lived in Charleston in 1986 and they were bitching about dredging deeper for the next generation of ships then. The real screw up came decades ago when these terminals were built further inland. Yah yah yah.

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easterndumbfuckastan February 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

The Talmadge bridge in Savannah has one foot less clearance than the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. This will cause issues in Savannah as well as many of their terminals are upstream of that bridge. I have a feeling a number of port terminals in the US are going to have to engineer solutions to this problem. The general limiting height of ships is the Verrazano-Narrows bridge at the opening of New York harbor and clearance under it is 228 feet at high tide. The Queen Mary II has 13 feet clearance under the bridge at high tide.

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CNSYD February 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

How many times do you have to be told? STOP injecting facts into Sic Willie’s little stories!

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Richard Gadsden March 23, 2015 at 10:23 am

Golden Gate (in San Francisco, CA) is 220 feet at high tide, and the QM2 is a tight squeeze under that (do a google image search for queen mary 2 golden gate and you’ll see just how tight), so you could hope to get an extra eight feet there, but SF harbor is such a pain (full of mudbars and currents) that a lot of the big container ships and tankers won’t go in there anyway.

The QM2 is a real liner with far more power and manoeuvrability than the ULCVs, so SF holds no fears for her.

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The Colonel February 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

“…Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) that hold as many as 14,000 twenty equivalent units … That’s twenty foot equivalent units there Wilbur.
Air draught is presenting problems all over the world. Ports need to plan on a minimum bridge clearance of 80 meters above mean high tide to be useable 90% of the time. In areas of extreme tidal range, this isn’t as big a problem but traffic is often limited to low tide moves only – that can cause a 12 hour delay in some regions and as with anything else in shipping time = money.
Higher bridge decks cost significantly more – making the Ravenel bridge deck 23 meters higher (it’s 57 now) would have added 20% or more to the cost..

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ThreePalms February 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Wouldn’t Nikki look great if she could annouce that SC was opening a Jasper Port and all the potential jobs that it could bring? Does anyone remember what she said at the RNC?

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ITT February 18, 2014 at 7:11 pm

ITT TRULY IS MILF MOUNTAIN!

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idcydm February 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

r u having fun? LOL Under God, our Vindicator.

Too funny to think you Under God, our Vindicator could be relevant or right about anything.

I do know one thing, it’s obvious this “IDIOT CAM” has gotten under your skin.

:)

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Soft Sigh from Hell February 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm

There are still a few large harbor shoreline spots seaward of the bridge that conceivably might be developed with a few slips and cranes for the very largest ships.

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shifty henry February 18, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Have they found it yet – the little tugboat that committed suicide when it discovered that its mother was a tramp and its father was a ferry?

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venomachine February 19, 2014 at 8:41 am

“Always watch your poop deck, son,” said the ferry to the little tugboat.

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Rocky February 19, 2014 at 11:58 am

And this is surprising? Isn’t this the same state that in 1865 set blaze to their own capital?

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euwe max February 19, 2014 at 1:14 pm

They should have had Eugene Runkis and Spencer two dogs Boljack build that bridge out of old lumber and scrap metal.

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