Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It can happen here

With the collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis, it pays to remember that this can happen here, too. Many of us remember when the Hoan Bridge failed in 2000, and a study of the state's Interstate system released in 2006 gave us this little gem:

*Eight percent of the state's Interstate Bridges are rated structurally deficient and nine percent are rated functionally obsolete.

The eight percent is the portion of bridges that are a structural rather than design concern, and eight percent is a number that can be tackled. It is high time that we put an increased emphasis on ensuring the safety of exisitng roads and bridges over the building of new ones, at least for a while. Having said that, however, do not think for a moment that throwing money at the problem is the solution. If the 35W collapse creates new political pressure from the public to improve existing infrastructure, then there will also likely be a new wave of lobbying on the part of firms wanting a piece of the pie. While we need to ensure the viability of our existing infrastructure, we need to be smart and measured approach to it. If public pressure and lobbying dove tail on this issue, we risk watching Madison throw a lot more money at the problems than will be necessary because they'll be able to please both constituents and donors by doing so.