Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A YEAR LATER

The I-35 bridge in the Twin Cities on August 1, 2007

The new bridge early this morning

The I-35W bridge that crosses the Mississippi reopened today after more than a year of construction.  This bridge is one of the busiest in America, connecting the Twin Cities to the southern suburbs and beyond.  This was such a shock to me when it happened.  I can't tell you how many times we've crossed that bridge on the way to football games, shopping, visiting family, etc.  
Now, I'm sorry to say that I'm shocked that this isn't happening all over the country.  In 2006, the Federal Highway Administration said in a report, that 1/4 of of the nation's 600,000 bridges were at risk.  The American Society of Civil Engineers reported that it would take 10 billion dollars a year, every year, for 20 years to fix them.   These reports were made two years ago, surely it can only be worse now.  The Bush administration says that sometime in the next fiscal year the nation's highway fund will be at zero.  This means no bridges will be maintained or repaired unless the states can find the money in their own budgets to fund them.  Unlikely to happen as most state budgets are stretched to the breaking point already.  I can't conceive of how Iowa will pay for it's many bridge repairs on it's own, in light of all of the natural disasters that it's faced this year. 
This was the kind of tragedy that always seems to happen somewhere else.  But it didn't.  It happened in our own back yard.  I don't want my blog to become a forum for contentious political commentary, but I will just ask anyone out there who thinks taxes are evil, to remember how lucky you are that your family wasn't on that bridge last year.

Read more about the U.S. infrastructure crisis at cnn.com  

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