A bridge in Minnesota tragically collapsed Wednesday killing an unknown number of innocent people. As reported by the Associated Press:
The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of repairs when the bridge buckled during the evening rush hour Wednesday. Dozens of cars plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River, some falling on top one of another. A school bus sat at an angle on the concrete.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved including friends and relatives.
Sadly, as every disaster that has occurred since late January 2001 has been somehow blamed on the Bush administration - most notably Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the recent tornados in Kansas - a question needs asking: How quickly will press representatives start blaming the White House for this incident?
Can't you hear Katie Couric talking about funds that could have gone to interstate bridge repairs instead of being spent on the war in Iraq?
Or Charles Gibson waxing accusatorily about how such highway funds instead went to the wealthy as part of the Bush tax cuts?
Or Brian Williams reporting that members of the National Guard who could have been used to help bridge reconstruction efforts are all unfortunately in Iraq?
Reports issued by the Minnesota Department of Transportation over the past decade have detailed problems with the bridge. In 1997, the department noted problems with the approach spans on both ends, including "cracks . . . in the cross girder at the end of the approach spans." In a 2001 report, department engineers said that the bridge's deck truss "has not experienced fatigue cracking, but it has many poor fatigue details on the main truss and floor truss system."
Allah also cited a Popular Mechanics article published hours ago about this catastrophe (emphasis added):
According to a report card released in 2005 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 160,570 bridges, or just over one quarter of the nation's 590,750 bridge inventory, were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The nation's bridges are being called upon to serve a population that has grown from 200 million to over 300 million since the time the first vehicles rolled across the I-35W bridge. Predictably that has translated into lots more cars. American commuters now spend 3.5 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, at a cost to the economy of $63.2 billion a year.
The fact is that Americans have been squandering the infrastructure legacy bequeath to us by earlier generations. Like the spoiled offspring of well-off parents, we behave as though we have no idea what is required to sustain the quality of our daily lives.
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 the other essential hardware that goes into making a modern civilization. Then we should hold them accountable for setting priorities and marshaling the requisite resources to repair our increasingly brittle society.
For what it's worth, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government will spend $79 billion on transportation in FY 2008. This is up from $54 billion in FY 2001, a 46 percent increase.
At 2.3 percent of total federal spending, the Department of Transportation is currently receiving proportionately about the same amount of money it has since FY 1982.
Unfortunately, I don't believe this fact will prevent media from blaming all of this infrastructure problem - and this bridge collapse - on President Bush.
*****Update: Liberal radio talk show host Ed Schultz blames Bush (h/t NBer kw)