Years of neglect

Since this is front page news in the London Times and the New York Times there isn’t a lot I can say to illuminate. Here is a ink to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s slide show. One of their photographers,Jeff Wheeler, is part of our block club. We’ve been watching TV for about four hours now and we’re drained.

Tribune day one photo gallery | Username: lafondblog | Password: lafond

Being very familiar with the location — it’s about 15 minutes from our house and three minutes from one of the places I worked — I know it is a horrific mess. There is another bridge almost spitting distance away that carries a city street — 10th Avenue — from east bank to west bank. I’ve traveled that bridge many times. The 35W bridge is slightly higher so I could stare at the superstructure that supported it while I drover across. And I swear I would think to myself, how in heaven’s name does that erector set structure manage to stay up and carry so much traffic — 140,000 cars a DAY. It didn’t look as though it should work.

It has been Republicans in control in Washington and a Republican governor vetoing anything that might involve increasing taxes. They have undermined the quality of our critical infrastructure in this state. The City of Saint Paul is facing an $18 million deficit and we’re facing the possibility of our branch library closing because our governor vetoed … AGAIN … the Local Government Aid bill. The roads and bridges of Minnesota are steadily deteriorating under this sort of Republican leadership and it is thus not hard to believe that an odd bridge would fall down. Both I 94 and I35W have Mississippi River crossings in Minneapolis. They are easily the two busiest river crossings in Minnesota. So it’s not the odd bridge that went down. It’s one of THE bridges. This one happens to go right to downtown Minneapolis. In a way, I think, the suburban taxpayers who primarily use that bridge and who have been supporting the governor are getting exactly what they deserve. A whole lot less government on their backs.

Our Republican Senator Norm Coleman will be on the next plane to Minnesota and accompanied by the Republican Secretary of Transportation. They will join our Republican governor tomorrow and igure out how they can put the typical Republican spin on all of this. Was this bridge collapse directly caused by this leadership? No, I wouldn’t say that. Who’s to say what the tipping point is when massive systems fail. But what is the cumulative effect of years of neglect?

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