Yesterday, I noted that a local backroom politico had blamed the 35W River Bridge disaster on “No New Taxes”; that if the state had only raised more taxes, the bridge would still stand. Nick Coleman echoed (literally and metaphorically) the same sentiment (and drew the only response that really fits).
So who is accountable? And what can “the system” do about it?
More later – or Monday.
UPDATE: Sarah Janecek beats Coleman like a baby seal:
“No New Taxes” has nothing to do with what happened, yesterday.
A few facts for Coleman. In general, the major bridges the federal government has built become the responsibility of states to maintain, and states routinely seek and are granted federal funding to help with the maintenance. The maintenance work being done on the I-35W bridge by Progressive Contractors, Inc., out of St. Michael, Minnesota, was on the list of projects of the 2007-2009 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list. Right there on page 116 of the report is the I-35W bridge. The $3.3 million price tag was being paid mostly by the federal government ($2.97 million) and not the state ($330,000).
The National Bridge Inventory conducted by the federal government in 2003 reported that the bridge had a “sufficiency” rating of 50% on a scale of 120. That’s not great, but that’s where about 80,000 of the country’s bridges stand. The significant finding of that Inventory, however, was that structurally, the bridge “meets minimum tolerable limits to be left in place as-is.”
The federal government didn’t flag structural issues; neither did MnDOT.
That’ll leave a mark.