NYT: Spend [Some] Money on U.S. Infrastructure

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
nyt spend some money on u s infrastructure

You might think that one's a no-brainer, what with 13 motorists killed by the Interstate 35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, and the attendant media furor. But infrastructure improvements are about as politically sexy as woolen tights on a sumo wrestler. Actually, a minefield is a more apt analogy, as the hugely expensive improvements to bridges, roads, levees, school buildings and the like threaten the budgets of a federal government stretched thin by existing pork barrel projects. But it's a nettle that must be grasped. Unfortunately, New York Times Op Ed columnist Bob Herbert does so so gingerly he renders his rant meaningless. In other words, money is never mentioned. But jobs sure are. "Senator Dodd told me: 'At a time when we’re worried about rising unemployment rates and declining confidence in this country, infrastructure projects have the dual effect of putting people to work — and usually at pretty good salaries and wages — while also creating a sense of optimism, of investing in the future… In terms of stimulating the economy, there is nothing better than a job.”" And in terms of sucking money from the taxpayer? Look for this one to lie low until after the election– unless another tragedy occurs.

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  • Becurb Becurb on Jan 29, 2008
    Alex Rodriguez : Even in road-friendly states like Texas, it is becoming more and more difficult to get roads built and/or improved. The Environmentalists fight every road project tooth and nail, in the fantasy belief that rail will somehow replace 150M cars on the road. Don't leave out the trivial part that Texas/Gov Rick "Good Hair" Perry wants to sell all of those new roads, ie, make them toll roads. That tends to get the rest of the population geared up to fight new road construction.

  • Becurb Becurb on Jan 29, 2008
    chuckR : In Minnesota, the MNDoT had the money in hand to replace the I35W bridge two or three times over. Preliminary NTSB reports place the blame in the design review. Using contemporaneous, ie 1960s, methods they identified 3 gusset plates that were drastically under-designed (actually 12 as they only looked at one quarter of the symmetric bridge). I also understand that the bridge was designed so that a single point of failure (in this case, the gussets) would cause the bridge to fail. I am not going to fault the bridge designers for that one, nor for the undersized gussets - these things happen. And computer modeling was not common when the bridge was designed. A bigger problem is not bothering to put pilings in front of support structures because "traffic never comes up here" - yet that is exactly what happened in Oklahoma (barge hit bridge support) and Lousiana(?) when the Amtrak train derailed on a misaligned swing bridge that had been hit by a barge. Not to mention the Sunshine ??? bridge in Tampa that was hit by a freighter, and had to be replaced... Bruce

  • Shiney Shiney on Jan 30, 2008

    If only half the money wasted in Iraq had been used to build infrastructure, and the pointless high income tax breaks had never taken place; the country would be have a solid foundation and vastly improved long term economic health. Sadly, shortsighted self indulgent decisions and delusional ideology have ruled in Washington and much of the country for a decade, leaving us crumbling nation and a sputtering economy.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jan 30, 2008

    I feel compelled to reply, but you can have the last word. Half the money "wasted" in Iraq? You can make a good argument that the invasion was mistaken, and certainly it did not go as planned. However, the jury will be deliberating on Iraq for many more years. Wait for it. The tax cuts had the intended effect of helping the economy, and INCREASED government revenues. There would have been less government money for infrastructure projects had the tax cuts not been passed. The current fears of their demise will soon have a ruinous effect on our economy, and government coffers. I suppose you will blame that on the rich as well? Go ahead, have the last word, use it wisely.