Monday, July 28, 2008

We’re broke and things are falling apart

Two discouraging items of news today. They’re related and point to an aching need to refocus our priorities.

Item 1 (from CNN): “It would cost at least $140 billion to repair all the nation’s bridges if work began immediately, a nationwide safety organization said in a comprehensive report Monday.”

Item 2 (from CNN): “The White House on Monday predicted a record deficit of $490 billion for the 2009 budget year.” (That’s off the $128 billion surplus inherited by the Bush administration).

So, our transportation net needs of fixing — and we’re broke.

Now, the bridge situation isn’t quite as dire as the above statement makes it sound. We don’t have to fix all of the nation’s bridges right now. Just about one in four of them.

My personal manifesto is that to live up to our cherished self-image as the greatest nation on earth, we have to have the best educated populace, the best health care system and the best transportation system.

We don’t.

“Nearly one in four bridges needs repairs, and the average age of America’s bridges is 43 years — seven years shy of the maximum age for which most are designed, according to the report, titled ‘Bridging the Gap.’”
“One in five U.S. bridges is more than 50 years old, the report says. ‘Almost one in four bridges, while safe to travel, is either structurally deficient, in need of repair, or … too narrow for today’s traffic volumes.’ the report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said.”

We really need to refocus our priorities. We cannot afford trillions of dollars spent on foreign adventures. We cannot afford any more porkbarrel legislation (we should never build, let alone have to repair a “bridge to nowhere”).

The bridge report cites “’a frustrating contradiction’ — better engineering, materials and construction techniques are available, but ‘without a national commitment to bridge investment,’ states cannot afford the improvements.”

That says it, right there. A national commitment. Calling all patriots — make America truly the greatest nation: with the finest schools, the best helath care, top quality roads. Let’s make that national commitment now.

Just as soon as we figure out how to pay that debt...

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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