Columns, Opinion

Lessons from the Left: It’s time we invest in infrastructure

Last Thursday, a pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University. According to reports, there were multiple casualties, and police have identified four of the deceased so far. A private construction company built the bridge, and one of their workers noticed an alarming crack in its foundation — but the company certainly isn’t the only institution at fault.

Our government, state and federal, had a hand in the bridge collapse, the unnecessary deaths and the sapping of a devastated university’s spirit.

It’s clear that Florida had an especially prominent role despite its initial efforts to distance itself. According to The Miami Herald, the Florida Department of Transportation (aka FDOT) was heavily involved in “the design and construction” of the bridge and an especially important member of the design committee. As an esteemed member of the committee, FDOT selected the premier engineer, served as a consultant on every matter from concrete mixtures to selecting the premiere engineer and worked to ensure the bridge was installed safely.

But despite having a heavy hand in the project, FDOT officials labeled the bridge as FIU’s project, not theirs. Clearly, it wasn’t entirely FIU’s, considering FDOT played such a key role in the bridge’s construction and installation.

FDOT and Florida’s infrastructure problem isn’t contained in this one incident, and it certainly isn’t new. In fact, Florida is graded a C in infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Sure, that’s better than the national average of a D+, but barely so. A C grade still isn’t good considering shoddy and unregulated infrastructure can, as we saw on Thursday, prove lethal.

So although we might have crappy infrastructure, nothing’s stopping us from fixing it, right? Wrong. Though our president talks a big game about infrastructure — he’s called for a $200 billion infrastructure investment on behalf of Congress — he’s been too distracted by legal disputes with a porn star, special counsel investigations and internal chaos to pass any kind of compressive funding bill. Even further, Trump’s proposed budget for 2019, which includes funding for everything from school lunch programs to science programs, would cut existing infrastructure programs by $240 billion. He might end up cutting more than he ever intended on spending.

The priority should not be building new and exciting types of infrastructure. Instead, we should focus on long-term maintenance of preexisting and potential structures. We need to focus not on building shiny new bridges, but on funding things like ultra-secure beams for those bridges. In short, it’s about making structures, both new and old, last.

However, that means pissing some people off because maintenance means construction, and no one likes when roads are perpetually closed. Getting to work is infinitely harder than it should be.

Without money in place specifically for infrastructure, there is no oversight, and without oversight, bad bridges quickly become deadly bridges. Trains derail. Hazard waste is disposed of improperly — and so on and so forth.

Even further, and equally as relevant, houses are infinitely more likely to flood and stay flooded in natural disasters (as was the case in Puerto Rico and Houston). I think we can all agree: It’s better to prevent disaster eons ahead of time than to let it happen and clean up the mess afterward.

All and all, investing in infrastructure is a big project, but it’s worth it. It’s not enough to talk about it rosily. Talk is cheap. It’s time to fund, build, maintain and oversee. 






2 Comments

  1. Perhaps THE biggest lesson on infrastructure taught by the left occurred under 44 – The Imperial President. During his reign, he asked for, and was rewarded with, a $787 billion stimulus bill that was centered around infrastructure. He promised hundreds of thousands of good, high paying, construction jobs that would save America’s crumbling infrastructure … he’d use his magical methods to speed things along, slash red tape and focus only on the most ‘shovel ready’ of things. It was a complete FLOP … soooo poorly managed … fixed almost nothing … drastically increased National debt .. and LEFT the American People thinking that their government was no better than the Three Stooges.

    The People lost a lot of faith in government being a ‘one stop solution’ for all that ails the Country under The Chosen One, who’s policies stifled growth in an already badly lagging economy, over our regulated industries in a hyper competitive world, and kicked the snot out of the small business engine that was the catalyst for so much of America’s growth over the years.

    45, while miles from perfect as a man/candidate/politician, realized the massive gap in trust and capitalized on it without much resistance – vanquishing 14 or 15 other candidates who each cling to the old tired mantras of a bloated Federal past … simply put, he demolished them. His time in office, thus far, has been spent slashing regulation, asking questions of and listening to the needs of businesses – big and small, increasing tax incentives, and cheerleading for the country … the results so far are actually quite strong. GDP is rising, consumer confidence is at a very high level, the employment ranks are swelling, manufacturing jobs are returning, and business IS confident again.

    Infrastructure will take time, but I’d not bet against 45s ability to get something done there too … he’s a builder, and builders build.

  2. Using the bridge collapse at FIU to take a stab at Donald Trump was sloppy. Not to mention that there is an evident lack of research about the incident in this article. Before people start to completely ignore me, I want to mention I didn’t vote for Trump nor do I support him. My issue with this article isn’t political.

    The FIU bridge wasn’t intended to be just a “shiny new bridge.” It was a pedestrian bridge the university wanted to install after a young student was killed crossing the busy street. The University received a hefty grant to build the bridge to keep students safe– of course, it didn’t turn out well. Yes, the construction technique was innovative, but it was tested and studied for a long time before being implemented. It wasn’t created to cut corners, but to decrease traffic issues and construction time.

    There’s a crazy amount of speculation in your article: “A C grade still isn’t good considering shoddy and unregulated infrastructure can, as we saw on Thursday, prove lethal.” … “Without money in place specifically for infrastructure, there is no oversight, and without oversight, bad bridges quickly become deadly bridges.” …
    You’re not an engineer and you probably shouldn’t talk about what caused the collapse and where the fault is. Yes, there was obviously negligence somewhere and there’s experts working on finding that to get justice for these families. But, you shouldn’t have used the bridge collapse when the cause hasn’t been determined. Nobody knows if it was the crack or the stress testing or ABC technique. You’re speculating for an article on the Daily Free Press. People lost their friends, family, and loved ones. In short, this tragedy proves nothing about the government’s lack of investments in infrastructure. It should have been left out.