Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis and Our Crumbling Infrastructure

I am still in a bit of shock at the horrific bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Although I know only a few people who live there now, several good friends spent considerable time in either Minneapolis or Saint Paul, and many writers I've come across over the years describe it as an artist's paradise. If there can be any good to come out of this tragic event, I hope that it's to push lawmakers and legislators to rethink the cuts to funding of our national infrastructure. This bridge is only one of many such structures suffering from sustained neglect and only cosmetic inspections and repair. I do complain about the outrageous taxes I have to pay to the state of New Jersey (or Illinois, for that matter, or the federal goverment), but I my querulousness subsides when I consider that I am paying, especially at the local level, for public education and health care needs, as well as infrastructure maintenance, repair and development. I once read somewhere that around 1/8th of the bridges in the country were in a state of noticeable disrepair, so perhaps this will focus attention--brief as it is in the US these days--on bridges first, and then on the myriad other infrastructure issues that receive the out-of-sight out-of-mind treatment until there's a crisis. (Remember the levees before Hurricane Katrina....)

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