By David Anderson
Injuries were minor but the insults were major in cross-the-country reaction to the I-5 bridge collapse.
The New York Times calls it “the creeping train of detoured vehicles,” referencing the new circuitous route of 67,000 cars and trucks that daily had crossed over the Skagit River before the four-lane bridge was bumped by a semi this past Thursday evening sending 160 feet of the steel truss structure – and two vehicles — into the icy waters below.
Injuries were minor but the insults are major given the fallout across the country from a fallen bridge.
David Cay Johnston in The Daily Beast calls the disaster north of Seattle a reflection of “the dire state of our bridges and highways.”
The New York Times declares the “Washington State bridge collapse highlights infrastructure needs.”
Former governor Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, together with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, issued a statement characterizing the bridge collapse as a “call to action.”
“Regardless of how this happened, the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State is a timely reminder of our nation’s need to invest in critical infrastructure upgrades,” Mr. Rendell said. “Our nation’s bridges, roads and highways are deteriorating before our eyes.”
Meanwhile, as “the creeping train” of the detoured public looks for new ways to get from A to B, another train of dubious purpose happily side-tracks millions of dollars of Washington State-routed federal stimulus money to whistle down the track and past decrepit bridges, “more than a third having exceeded their design life,” earning our state a C- according to the American Society of Civil Engineers as reported by Johnston.
It is little wonder now why Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker, and his Republican counterpart in Ohio, rejected federal stimulus money slated for trains back in November of 2010 as reported in the Tri-City Herald, “urging the federal government to give up on high-speed rail and instead use the money to repair roads and bridges he said were ‘literally crumbling’.”
Though Washington Governor Chris Gregoire wondered.
“Why they’ve turned it away I have no idea,” she said as reported in the Tacoma News Tribune, May 17, 2011.
Though some would feign ignorance, we now know — really now know — what we’ve known all along: we’re sacrificing our highways in favor of high speed rail which fails to deliver ($40 billion and counting since it left the station in 1971, $1.4 billion last year alone in subsidies) and will, as per its track record, forever run in the red, especially irksome in this Evergreen state.
With highways in desperate need for money,
And thousands of bridges needing repair;
With the literal undermining of safety,
And goods/services disappearing down the river.
Will the state’s economic life-line —
Its artery called I-5
Severed, be left to bleed out
Lacking legislators with spine?
To stop the “Unstoppable” is not unthinkable
For to do otherwise is to repeat the refrain
“Danger! Bridge-out! Detour!”
And yet another “creeping-train.”