America falling down

The United States’ infrastructure is slowly coming apart. Still, the government does not spend adequate funds to insure the ground on which Americans stand is secure.

A bridge in America just shouldn’t fall down,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the day following the Aug. 1 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Yet in a state where the governor vetoed the capital improvements and transportation bills in the 2007 legislative session, the tragedy is not unexpected, nor will it be the last accident of its kind in Minnesota or the rest of the United States.

Both bills would have increased taxes to improve Minnesota’s aging infrastructure.

Though Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto did not cause the bridge to fall, political stances similar to his are to blame.

In August 2005, levees broke as a result of Hurricane Katrina, flooding roughly 80 percent of New Orleans.

On July 11, 2006, a 200-foot section of a Boston tunnel collapsed, killing a newlywed woman.

A steam pipe explosion near Grand Central Terminal in New York City killed one and wounded 20 others on July 18, 2007.

In fact, a highway overpass in Oroville, Calif., gave way while under construction the day before the Minneapolis bridge collapsed.

The United States’ infrastructure is slowly coming apart.

Still, adequate funds are not spent by the government to insure the ground Americans stand on is secure.

In a recent report on global infrastructure issues by the Urban Land Institute, executive vice president Maureen L. McAvey said that according to an Aug. 2, 2007, New York Times article, “Civil engineers have estimated that we have a $1.7 trillion shortfall (in infrastructure funding) in this country alone.”

In the same article, structural engineer and associate professor John Ochsendorf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology commented, “Governments do not want to pay for (infrastructure) maintenance because it is not sexy.”

Not only is the U.S. infrastructure an unattractive issue, as Ochsendorf noted, but it is also disparaged by some political groups.

The conservative Taxpayers League of Minnesota had a multimillion dollar campaign in ads and billboards during the 2007 legislative session against, among other bills, the nickel increase to the already 20 cent gas tax (and also a 2.5 cent increase over the next several years).

The package the gas tax was included in, according to the Minnesota House DFL Caucus, would have put “$7 billion into roads and transit” over the next decade.

The bill would have also helped to pay down the large debt Minnesota has accumulated due to infrastructure costs.

Ultimately though, Pawlenty said no to the bill that passed both the House and Senate.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota said in their ads, “Liberalism 101: Tax, Tax, Tax, Spend, Spend, Spend.” If that is true of liberals, then this is also true of conservatives – Conservatism 101: Borrow, Borrow, Borrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow.

Problems in Minnesota and the United States cannot be solved with money they do not have, nor can problems be solved if they are put off.

A bridge fell in Minneapolis on Aug. 1 and too many innocent lives were lost.

America should not have cities in ruins.

Tom McNamara is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]