"Bridges in America should not be falling down."
So says Minnesota Senator Amy Klobucher, who represents the home of the I-35 West bridge that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis, killing at least five and possibly as many as 20 others who were still missing at the time of this writing.
According to news reports, as many as 25 percent of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient, just as the death bridge. Not only that, across the nation, schools and levies are crumbling and a steam pipe exploded a couple weeks ago in New York City killing one person and injuring many others.
We are going to see more and more such disasters unless the federal government gets serious now about repairing America's aging and decaying infrastructure.
One thing is certain, it won't be cheap, but the money is available and it has to be done. Infrastructure repair is just not a sexy way for politicians to spend money.
For one thing, limits on federal aid for infrastructure will have to be lifted. Hopefully, this will now happen. Too bad it is taking the deaths of Americans in Minnesota and New Orleans to get people to seriously consider it.
Not that states and local government don't share some of the responsibility - they do and could and should do more - but the Interstate Highway System, which the Death Bridge served, has always been a federal responsibility - just as it was intended.
One need not look far for the $1.6 trillion over five years the American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed just to bring the nation's infrastructure up to "good" condition.
America is spending $2 billion every 10 days just to occupy Iraq. Bringing that situation to a quick conclusion would free up more than enough money to do the job. One would think giving Americans reasonable peace of mind while they are driving across bridges is as important as trying to stand up a government that does not want us there.
We need to be spending more of our money on the Midwest instead of the Middle East. If we don't, you can count on seeing more and more catastrophic failures like that in Minnesota.