this blog post from WIRED, written by Dave Demerjian.
His premise is a good one, that throwing money into all the green ideas (especially surrounding things like electric cars, alternative fuels and my hot button, high speed rail, won't work unless we get down and dirty and start from the ground up, fixing our roads, highways and bridges. I don't have to tell anyone this is true, but the question is, how should we do it? Demerjian likes this idea: "(Congress) should invest in the more than 3,000 ready-to-go highway projects that could be under contract within the next 30 to 90 days," says John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. "Funding these ready to go projects offers Congress a tremendous opportunity to put Americans to work and help cash-strapped states repair and replace our crumbling infrastructure."
In the days of Roosevelt there was the Works Project Administration (WPA). We keep hearing about increasing consumer spending power (we all got those IRS refunds over the last 8 yrs - and most of us wound up using that money to pay bills, not spend money on consumer goods.) Maybe a different approach is better yes? The original mission of the WPA was to put people to work doing things that absolutely needed to be done. Some of our best built and most beautiful bridges were built during this time. Again, I don't have to tell you that. A lot of us believe it's time to revisit this idea, get down to the basics, and get our Country's foundation ship shape again. One of the mission statements from WPA records:
"....the WPA-headed by Harry L. Hopkins until 1938-was designed to increase the purchasing power of persons on relief by employing them on useful projects. WPA's building program included the construction of 116,000 buildings, 78,000 bridges, and 651,000 mi (1,047,000 km) of road and the improvement of 800 airports...."
If we look at those 3k ready to go highway projects Demerjian blogs about, people can get back to work and the infrastructure work can begin. Congress is now talking about a new stimulus package. Isn't this (WPA) a better stimulus package?? Yeah, it's all going to cost money. But we can be as cost-effective and smart about how we do this as possible. Look at this from the Popular Mechanics site. It's featuring the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the award it won from the American Society of Engineers (ASE). It's not so much the bridge itself (why I'm directing you there), as to the criteria they used to determine the winner.
Using the American Society of Engineers criteria for making this award as a basis for a new WPA set up makes sense. An explanation:
1. It came in under budget. AND ahead of schedule. Imagine that!
2. Efficient Design
3. Environmental Impact
4. (though not listed as a separate category by the ASE, it was discussed throughout) - Community Involvement.
Several designs were proposed and according to the ASE, the community voted on the winning design. A higher bridge was proposed but the community said no, make it shorter. They still only have to raise the bridge (estimate) about 65 times a year, when in the old days on the old WW Bridge, it was over 200 times. More ships and barges can get under this new bridge without it having to be raised.
They also used pieces of the old bridge to build fishing reefs etc, a good recycling and reuse of materials mission. What do you think about this 21st Century version of the WPA project instead of a new stimulus package? As usual, please weigh in. These are heady times for us but also times when, because we are all forced to take note and take stock, and shouldn't we have a say in how our money is spent? Please weigh in with your thoughts. Peace Out - 3C
Ohio Infrastructure Needs - Web Investigations:
Sherrod Brown on funding water improvements.
Progress Ohio weighs in on prioritizing National infrastructure repair.
The Columbus Dispatch on need for road repair monies.
Ohio Dept of Transportation release on Inner Belt (I-90) Bridge repairs
Update: This from Thursday's (today) WS Journal onn various ideas for a second stimulus package. Sexy or not, I still say a majority of any spending should go to infrastructure -- the candidates weighed in with McCain saying 'vetted' projects were ok as far as he's concerned (see above for highway 'stuff' already in pipeline).
Obama and others said "...Democrats depict more spending on roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure -- an idea championed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama -- as an investment that would create jobs in the U.S and pave the way for future economic growth...." Hopefully this link to the WSJ article works if you're not a paid subscriber.