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I-495 Bridge a reminder: we need transportation that works

I-495 Bridge a reminder: we need transportation that works

The I-495 bridge over the Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware, is tilting. If you're reading this in Miami or in Maine, you may think that's too bad for folks in Wilmington, and you may wish the Delaware DOT all the best in fixing it. But it affects you, too.

Because for trucks and cars heading to and from Philadelphia and other points, I-495 provides a key route around downtown Wilmington on the already-congested I-95, the east coast's primary north-south Interstate. It also provides access to and from the Port of Wilmington. And until the Christina Bridge is repaired and reopened, freight—and people--traveling through the mid-Atlantic region on I-95 are likely to encounter significant delays.

Photo of Secretary Fox and others at I-495 bridge near Wilmington, Delaware
At the bridge site in Wilmington. Photos courtesy office of U.S. Senator Tom Carper.

The good news is that we have already begun helping DelDOT by providing $2 million in emergency funding to get started. And our team at the Federal Highway Administration is standing ready to help. 

But America has much more infrastructure that needs to be repaired --and much more infrastructure that needs to be built-- than we have dollars available.

What we have instead is a Highway Trust Fund that could run out of money in the next two months. Unless Congress acts.

photo of re-routed traffic on I-95; credit AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig
This is what happens when 90,000 vehicles a day get rerouted. Credit: AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig.

For much of our history, we have planned ahead as a nation to make sure that the transportation network that keeps our economy moving is healthy and safe.

We've done this because transportation is such an important part of our daily lives. Everything you ate for breakfast--from fruit to cereal to yogurt--moved through our transportation network. You were able to commute from home to work because previous generations were thinking about tomorrow, and next year, and the decade after that. Kids on summer vacation are walking or biking safely to a friend's house because a community budgeted for sidewalks.

But today, we have transportation funding that --instead of charging vigorously into the future-- lurches from one insolvency crisis to another. And now, without action from Congress, the Highway Trust Fund that keeps our roads paved and our bridges standing straight will start bouncing checks as early as this August.

That’s why we at DOT have sent a transportation bill --GROW AMERICA-- to Congress.

GROW AMERICA will make sure that we don’t just avoid running out of transportation funding, but that we actually increase funding so we can fix the roads and bridges we’ve neglected for far too long. And it allows us to stop bouncing from emergency to emergency and once again plan for the future--to build the transportation we'll need to keep pace as our nation's population expands.

At DOT, we're fighting for transportation that works. And we're ready to work with Congress to make that happen.

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"A flood begins with a single raindrop." A better reply would be, "How can I help?"

The FHWA and other federal agencies need to do a better job educating the public on the following points: (1) You cannot get something for nothing. Gasoline taxes or other means of payments are user fees that must be paid for the services and benefits that roads and bridges provide. This principle extends to all forms of infrastructure that are presently affected by near-sighted spending priorities. (2) Every American citizen will pay a substantial price in lost wages, diminished economy from international competition, increased vehicle repairs, increased cost of goods and services, and an impact upon the environment due to increased emissions. (3) When the inevitable decision to address this issue is made, the costs for implementing the necessary repairs will increase exponentially, not linearly, as time passes placing an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers. (4) These issues must laid squarely and visibly at Congresses doorstep with a means for holding their lack of action on this issue accountable. Steven Kaufman, P.E. President ASCE Metropolitan Section Supervising Structural Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff One Penn Plaza 250 West 34th Street New York, NY 10119-0061 Office: (+1) 212-465-5674 Cell: (+1) 917-288-5837 Fax: (+1) 212-465-5575 kaufman.metsection@members.asce.org

Good luck!!
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