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Bad bridges not shovel-ready enough

We’ve got a $65 billion backlog of crumbling bridges in America. The stimulus bill only allocated $1.2 billion for bridge repair, and nearly half is going to bridges that don’t need to be fixed:

Tens of thousands of unsafe or decaying bridges carrying 100 million drivers a day must wait for repairs because states are spending stimulus money on spans that are already in good shape or on easier projects like repaving roads, an Associated Press analysis shows.

President Barack Obama urged Congress last winter to pass his $787 billion stimulus package so some of the economic recovery money could be used to rebuild what he called America’s “crumbling bridges.” Lawmakers said it was a historic chance to chip away at the $65 billion backlog of deficient structures, often neglected until a catastrophe like the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed two years ago this Saturday.

States, however, have other plans. Of the 2,476 bridges scheduled to receive stimulus money so far, nearly half have passed inspections with high marks, according to federal data. Those 1,123 sound bridges received such high inspection ratings that they normally would not qualify for federal bridge money, yet they will share in more than $1.2 billion in stimulus money.

And this is apparently what the administration wanted — fix the easy stuff so the money is spent faster, even if there’s no real long-term benefit. It’s just another way of implementing the Keynesian concept of putting money into the economy by hiring people to dig ditches and more people to fill them back in.

More evidence that the American public knew we were being sold a bill of goods. I’d have been less opposed to the stimulus bill, in spite of the fact that it’s money borrowed from China, if most or all of it had gone to infrastructure.

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