I am still absolutely shocked about the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis. I lived in the Twin Cities area for 2 years, drove across the I-35W bridge hundreds of times (as recently as 3 weeks ago) and went to school at the U of Mn one block from the bridge. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobucher summed up my feeling on this by saying “Bridges in America should not be falling down.” There is no excuse for this.
The Wall Street Journal has a short article in the weekend edition about aging infrastructure in the US. From the article:
- The number of dams deemed unsafe has risen by 33% to more than 3500 since 1998.
- About 1500 bridges collapsed between 1966 and 2005.
- The I-35W bridge stood 64 feet above the Mississippi River and stretched 1900 feet, but it had no piers in the water. It was built with one 458-foot-long steel arch to avoid interfering with river navigation. There are about 700 similar steel-deck truss bridges in the country.
- Americans spent an average of 81 minutes behind the wheel everyday in 2001. Rush-hour motoroists in the nation’s largest cities spend up to eight work days stuck in traffic each year.
The weekend edition is full of 3rd party comments endorsing the privitization of the nation’s interstate system. I am sorry, I completely disagree that privitization would bring any improvements. I am absolutely convinced that it would be a complete and total disaster. Without getting into complicated hypothetical situations, think about this, when you drive on a freeway/interstate, do you have several choices to pick from when going from point A to B? I would say the answer is no 99% of the time. What options would you have if the freeway/interstate that you use every day is privitized, tolled, congested and in disrepair? Probably none.
Without a doubt, profit could be made and the states could be relieved of their roadway maintenance obligations. But this would come at the expense of the taxpayer.