Why We Should Be Concerned About Hazardous Bridges Like Brent Spence Bridge

Why We Should Be Concerned About Hazardous Bridges Like Brent Spence Bridge

On Monday Rand Paul talked about the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure problems and addressed concerns about replacing the Brent Spence Bridge. While talk about repairing our infrastructure is hardly novel for Washington, Paul offered something far more unique: a way to pay for it.

The Brent Spence Bridge represents all that is failing with our national infrastructure. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that this major artery between Ohio and Kentucky is one of 15 interstate bridges termed “functionally obsolete” by the federal government and has the 7th highest crash rate amongst those bridges. This is hardly surprising as the bridge was expanded in 1985 by narrowing all the lanes and removing the emergency shoulders. How could that go wrong?

The most dangerous design fault of all is the lack of emergency lanes, say police officers, highway officials and commuters.

Last January, a 41-year-old father of three was killed when his car stalled on the bridge. The car was demolished when it was hit from behind by a truck loaded with garbage. The truck dragged the dead man’s car 500 feet before it could stop.

“That could have been you or me,” says Covington Police Spc. George Russell, who investigated the crash. “It’s amazing that this doesn’t happen more often.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Speaking to the Florence Rotary Club on Monday, Paul addressed not only replacing the bridge, but also a plan to fix our larger infrastructure problems. Paul has co-sponsored a bipartisan (yes, you heard me right, bipartisan) bill to lower corporate taxes for overseas businesses to 6.5 percent for 5 years. It’s estimated this could bring in as much as $1 trillion dollars to the Highway Trust Fund to be used for U.S. infrastructure improvements.

Paul calls this a win-win for both Democrats and Republicans:

“This is real earnings, not borrowed money. The economists also predict it will bring home about $70 billion in tax revenue. I don’t understand how anybody can be opposed to it – for Republicans, it’s a tax cut, for Democrats, it’s more money to spend.” (Northern Kentucky Tribune)

In a bit of sad irony though, Paul has been unable to get the amendment added to the highway bill so far. Heaven forbid we pass a bill which includes how we will pay for it. That sounds far too much like responsible governance and functional, across the aisle, cooperation. Even, dare we say, presidential behavior. Paul hasn’t given up and still plans to push to the get bill amended later this fall.

Paul also took the opportunity to call for responsible spending and prioritization as we tackle the national infrastructure problems. Never one to tolerate government inefficiency, he rightly pointed out that safe roads and bridges are a bit more important than nicely decorated ones:

“I’m all for beautification projects, but I think redoing the bridge is more important than flowerbeds.” (WCPO Cincinnati)

What are your thoughts on Paul’s plan to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge and tackle our infrastructure problems? Would you like to see more bills actually include their means of funding? Let us know on Twitter or follow us on Facebook so we can hear your thoughts.

(Photo courtesy of James, Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)

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