Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bridging the Priority Gap

Shouldn’t something have been done about this bridge earlier, given that it’s the only way out of Springfield to the northwest?

A deteriorating bridge on Illinois 97 west of Springfield is going to mean a long detour for truck drivers for at least the next year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation plans to place a 15-ton weight limit on the small bridge at Prairie Creek about five miles west of Springfield. To cover those five miles, however, trucks will have to make nearly a 40-mile loop that will take them to Petersburg.

“There’s 500 trucks a day that cross that bridge,” said Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, who crosses it when he travels to Springfield. “You’re going to add 40 miles one way to that trip.”

The bridge is just east of the intersection of Illinois 97 and 125.

IDOT’s preferred detour calls for trucks to get on Illinois 4/Veterans Parkway in Springfield, turn north on Illinois 29 to Illinois 123, take that west to Petersburg, and then drive south on Illinois 97 back to the 97/125 intersection.

“It’s not next door,” acknowledged IDOT spokesman Brian Williamsen of the detour route. “We can’t have (heavy trucks) driving on neighborhood roads.”

The bridge has been deteriorating for years, but a recent inspection revealed the deck had gotten to the point that a load limit had to be imposed, Williamsen said. He said the inspection was routine and not prompted by this summer’s bridge collapse in Minnesota.

All of my kids travel over that bridge every school day so color me concerned.

Even before the trillion dollar adventure we call Iraq, I was amazed at how low a priority infrastructure maintenance funding was in this country. Now it just seems absurd that we are futilely trying to “rebuild” a nation that was never any threat to us and we can’t even keep our bridges up.

And what’s Braur bitching about? Would he rather the trucks continue to use the bridge, perhaps causing a collapse? And Rep.Poe’s comments aren’t much better.
“Grain haulers are going to be going crazy,” added Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield. “They can drive across empty, but not loaded. What about a garbage truck or a concrete truck? It’s a terrible inconvenience.”
Yeah, well, a collapsed bridge would be both inconvenient and DEADLY.

Maybe Brarr and Poe are great advocates of infrastructure maintenance and have been warning of this for years. I have no idea, but somehow I doubt it given what political party they belong to. Not that this is necessarily partisan issue; neither party seems to take infrastructure all that seriously.

Anyway, it’s time –and has been for quite a while- to get our infrastructure needs taken care of before we move on to more entertaining things like wars and tax cuts for the rich.

1 comment:

JeromeProphet said...

This is a fine example of when hometown politics greets international intrigue, and adventurism, and kicks its butt!

Or at least it should.

Back in the Cold War we were spending money like crazy, which we didn't have, but at least we taxed the rich enough to keep us from plunging into this level of debt.

And we fought the Cold War, and managed to build the interstate highway system, thousands of public schools, universities, water works projects, etc.

The Iraq, and soon to be Iran, fiasco is being used as a means of keeping the public's eyes off the ball.

It's a great fraud, and diversion of tax dollars.

It's the Republican way of keeping everyone scared of their own shadows while they flush pork into the coffers of their oldest, and best constituencies - the defense sector, and the ultra rich.

Meanwhile the bridges and roads are crumbling. A physical manifestation of a failed state.

I think of how Rome slowly declined, until one day it could no longer stop the attacks upon it - and then was no more.