Under the glare of floodlights, as late-night drivers and early-morning commuters shared the same traffic backup before dawn Thursday, three lanes of the Capital Beltway closed to let repair crews patch a mega-pothole on the bridge over Kensington Avenue.
It was a bad pothole on an otherwise sound bridge,but the potential for bridge repairs to gum up the works was telling on a day when new federal data revealed that there are 63,000 U.S. bridges in need of more significant repair…
Although there have been some dramatic bridge collapses in recent years, the 63,000 bridges judged structurally deficient are not all about to fall down. Bridges deemed on the verge of collapse are closed.
In a sense, the problem is more insidious than that. When budgets are tight, states and counties often have to put off repairs to bridges and roads. The traditional source they rely on for federal dollars — the Highway Trust Fund — is projected to run into the red this summer.
That has left state and local highway officials in limbo, waiting to see if Congress finds a new revenue source to supply the dollars they need. In some states, half of transportation funding comes from Washington, and until local officials know whether they can expect that to continue, they are loath to launch multi-year projects to renew or replace bridges and roadways…
With much of the nation’s post-World War II infrastructure wearing out and the federal gas tax that built it steadily declining, experts say more than $1 trillion of investment is needed to shore it up…
Deficient bridges — those rated poor or worse because load-carrying elements have deteriorated — can affect consumers. As bridges continue to decline, weight restrictions often result, and when trucks delivering shipments to market take longer, roundabout routes, some prices can increase.
Almost 64,000 bridges nationwide have posted load limits or restrictions reducing the load they previously carried.
I hope you weren’t expecting suggested programs, solutions to this question from Congress. Congressional Republicans believe money shouldn’t be doled out from the Treasury unless the funds are to be dedicated to war and other corporate welfare. Highways shouldn’t expect to get anymore love than, say, public school students. If they can’t prevent spending, they can delay it for years.
What passes for the Republican Party nowadays looks down their patriarchal noses at tax-based funding as something that only comes from workingclass families – employed, underemployed or otherwise. Responsibility for fiscal participation is a sin – if directed at the top 1% of moneyboys in the country.
No matter that highways are an essential part of our mediocre logistics – or that declining funding from gasoline/diesel taxes is a spontaneous result from a nation that’s already been screwed to the wall by politicians who refuse responsibility.