1

Bridge collapse

Thanks to a reference by Andrew Samwick, economist at Dartmouth University, here's a link to a good piece on the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis by Stephen Flynn:

In the end, investigators may find that there are unique and extraordinary reasons why the I-35W bridge failed. But the graphic images of buckled pavement, stranded vehicles, twisted girders and heroic rescuers are a reminder that infrastructure cannot be taken for granted. The blind eye that taxpayers and our elected officials have been turning to the imperative of maintaining and upgrading the critical foundations that underpin our lives is irrational and reckless.

America's gross domestic product in 2006 was $13.2 trillion. We can afford to have world-class infrastructure. As a stepping-off point, we should insist that our elected representatives publicly acknowledge the risk of neglecting the bridges, roads and other essential hardware that goes into making a modern civilization. Then we should hold them accountable for setting priorities and for marshaling the requisite resources to repair our increasingly brittle society.

Samwick rightly adds this observation at his blog:

What I see most places I travel around the country are homes that are overbuilt to nearly the edge of the property line, and then a crumbling infrastructure across that line. Roads, power lines, sewers, schools--you name it. Almost everything used in common across that property line is stressed to the point of breaking.

Too much neglect for too lomg of the common space.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
Log in to post1 Comment

I agree with your comments. I live in Northern Virginia, which has some of the Nations Wealthiest Suburbs after those in Connecticut and New Jersey. The Homes in places such as Mclean, Great Falls, Oakton, and across the river in Bethesda & Potomac Maryland are to put it politely, Hideous McMansions thata are in Poor taste. The New Homes and the New Oversized Additions contribute to high volumes of Water Runoff during our heavy Spring and Summer rain storms. In some cases up to 50% of the Smaller, Older lots are taken up by impervious Roofs, and Paved areas, leaving the runoff to no place to go but to some unsusptecting homeowner's basement.
Another Extremely Aggravating factor is traffic that is generated by all this Unrestricted Development. Northern Virginia has not built more than one new Metro Station since the late 1980's, The Metro Rail extension to Dulles Airport has been stalled for 10 years, it had been slated for completion by 2006. As of today NOt A Single Metro station has been built towards the Completion of this Project. As for the infrastructure "The Common Wealth of Virginia" which is a Misnomer, Since there is very little "Common wealth" Remaining in Virginia. Richmond has been spending any tax revenue it does have on widening the existing highways instead of building cleaner transportation alternatives. The current situation has made our family re-assess our lives here, since we now spend a lot more of our lives stuck in traffic. Moving to another part of the country may be our only option, yet we don't wish to contribute to congestion elsewhere. When I look at all those Single Passenger Cars sitting on I-495, I-66 or I-395, I really wonder about the Current Selfish Culture that we live in, but we are all paying such a high price in the time lost and the increased stress, which is detrimental to one's health. I am sure no one wants the epitaph on their grave stone to read, "This Poor Soul Braved I-66 and spent 3 years of his/her life in Traffic".
This latest Bridge Collapse in Minnesota only proves that sitting in traffic can be literally lethal. I am sure that the statisticians will state that I am wrong, yet we do have a major infrastructure problem; and a well functioning infrastructure is an integral part of restoring our erroding Common Wealth.

With Generous Support From...