As President Donald J. Trump spends all his time running for re-election in 2020 and thus pursues issues that he believes will resonate with the voters, he may want to consider this recently publicized factoid: It will take more than 80 years to fix all 47,000 bridges in the U.S. that are in crucial need of repairs.
But why should Republican Trump, who has made building a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border the foundation of his campaign, care about the crumbling bridges he will never see, let alone travel on?
The answer lies in his 2016 presidential campaign platform in which he pledged to make the nation’s deteriorating roads, bridges, water systems, airports and railroads a priority.
In his address to Congress in 2017, 2018 and this year, the president talked about Republicans and Democrats coming together to address America’s ailing infrastructure.
To date, there has been no substantive progress on forging a bipartisan plan to fund the construction, reconstruction, upgrades and repairs of the nation’s transportation system.
Last year, Trump unveiled a $1.5 trillion initiative, but there was a major wrinkle that has stopped the plan in its tracks: Trump wanted state and local governments to come up with 80 percent matches for federal funding for road and bridge repairs.
There are other impediments: He believed the federal government’s portion of the cost should be financed by a 25-cent increase in the gas tax. It now stands at 18.4 cents.
And, he wanted the private sector to invest billions of dollars in the infrastructure initiative – without saying what he was willing to give the private companies to lure them into a partnership.
47,052 BRIDGES in poor shape
Thus, while the White House and Congress try to find common ground, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association has issued a dire warning – again.
In its Deficient Bridge report, the association found:
47,052 bridges of the 616,087 in the country are “structurally deficient” and need urgent repair.
235,020 bridges need some repair.
Americans cross structurally deficient bridges 178 million times a day.
The average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years.
Those hair-raising findings are enough to force Americans to reassess their transportation choices.
But it shouldn’t be that way.
As Ohio’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, said last week, “The latest report underscores the importance of investing in bridge repair. Ohioans travel over bridges every day to get to work or take their kids to school. They deserve a meaningful commitment and investment from the federal government to make sure these bridges are as safe as possible.”
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