From the place that rules Europe

Brussels has an unusual reason for being slow to repair its infrastructure: city officials claim mice ate the plans. The Belgian capital has the worst traffic in Europe, and plans to spend more than $575 million on what one local news site describes as “urgent repairs” to road tunnels over the next few years.

Unfortunately, the city’s ability to fix its major underground thoroughfares—some of which are literally falling apart—has been hampered by the fact that the original plans were chewed through by rodents decades ago, as CityLab reports.

During a meeting last week about the city’s road tunnel issues, former officials from the traffic agency Mobiel Brussels admitted that in the 1990s, a creative storage solution ruined most of the master plans for bridges and tunnels in Brussels.

In the ‘90s, Mobiel Brussels was temporarily housed in a hotel room, and there wasn’t enough space for archived documents like, say, master plans. So the agency stuffed its bridge- and tunnel-related paperwork into the pillars holding up a highway viaduct.

As one might expect, the underside of a bridge is not the best place to keep an archive of important documents. Most of the documents were destroyed or at least significantly damaged by rodents.

I can see that working. When we ask where is the democracy, the liberty, the freedom, they can just say the mice ate the plans.

8 thoughts on “From the place that rules Europe”

  1. This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967 Some records which went astray in the move to London and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.


  2. As one might expect, the underside of a bridge is not the best place to keep an archive of important documents.

    A wonderful snark. But it goes to show how callous and short-termist state employees can be. Although not always successful, at least most private companies make some sort of an attempt to properly archive their documents. It’s not like there aren’t dozens of companies offering climate controlled warehouse space for just this purpose.

  3. “It’s not like there aren’t dozens of companies offering climate controlled warehouse space for just this purpose.”

    And it’s in Brussels! There’s probably more document storage per head of population there than just about anywhere else in the world.

  4. Years ago I worked for an aerospace company that had run out of space in it’s normal filing building, so kept some papers in an old air raid shelter on site.
    The air raid shelter became damp over the winter and some fairly important technical drawings were damaged. Not as bad as they were for aircraft that were being phased out, but not great.

  5. State employee 1, “There isn’t enough space to store these blueprints in this hotel room.”

    State employee 2, “We have to put them somewhere. Should we ask TPTB to pay for another room?”

    State employee 1, “That will take months. Besides we’ll be labeled as troublemakers and never get promoted again. Why don’t we stick them under that bridge? The homeless have no problem sleeping there so a few bits of paper will be fine.”

    State employee 2, “Are you sure they won’t get damaged. What if they get eaten by rats?”

    Chorus, “And the people all said sit down, sit down you’re rocking the boat.”

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    This is not unique to the Europeans though. And it can have long lasting consequences:

    In 1992, a contract with the RAF at St. Athan to modify a number of Tornado F.3 aircraft was to have far reaching consequences for the company. Serious damage was caused to the centre fuselage of 16 aircraft during the removal of rivets. When the extent of the damage became clear, the Ministry of Defence cancelled the contract with Airwork and pursued compensation from Bricom. Questions were asked in the Houses of Parliament and the reputation of Airwork — at least in the UK — was dealt a grievous blow, (although this was not supported by the facts; the MOD and BAe had produced incorrect engineering drawings). A multi-million pound compensation settlement was eventually agreed out of court, and the Tornado F.3 aircraft involved were repaired by new contractors, replacing the damaged centre fuselages with those from surplus Tornado F.2 aircraft, which had been earmarked for disposal.

    Incorrect engineering drawings? I expect [email protected] rather than incompetence in this case. But Airwork was put out of business. They had to sell to Shorts.

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