Fix it first. With these three simple words, in Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Obama laid out a $50-billion dollar infrastructure plan that would focus on repairing the nation’s most in-need roads and bridges. It was music to the ears of author and infrastructure expert Barry LePatner.
“I was very pleased to hear about the President’s ‘Fix It First’ plan,” says LePatner, creator of www.SaveOurBridges.com and author of Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (www.TooBigToFall.com). “As many policymakers, infrastructure experts and those in the construction industry know, I’ve been insisting we address our dire infrastructure needs since the I-35W bridge tragically collapsed in Minneapolis in August 2007.”
“I strongly encourage Congress to approve this spending. It is simply not true that there is no money for infrastructure investment. Over the years, politicians have channeled their allotted federal funds to build new projects that lead to ribbon-cutting ceremonies, publicity, and votes. Repair projects just haven’t been sexy enough.”
LePatner recently appeared on BBC News to address our Nation’s failing infrastructure and to discuss the Tappan Zee Bridge. In addition, LePatner was also called upon to speak on the Nation’s infrastructure on “Street Signs” hosted by Brian Sullivan on CNBC.
U.S. bridges can be repaired without impacting the deficit, insists LePatner. Repairing the top 2,000 bridges would cost an estimated $30-60 billion and would put 1.2 million construction workers to work. These workers, many of whom would be coming off of unemployment, would pay back 30 percent of their money earned in income taxes, and much of the rest would be pumped back into the economy through their consumer spending.
LePatner thinks Americans have a right to know just how bad the nation’s infrastructure has gotten. That’s why he recently created SaveOurBridges.com, a site he hopes will not only educate the public on the dangerous bridges in their communities but will help bring attention to an issue that has been continuously ignored by the nation’s policymakers. The site pinpoints the 7,980 bridges in the U.S. that are both structurally deficient and fracture critical, just as the I-35W Bridge was prior to its collapse. It also allows visitors to search by zip code or city and state to find the dangerous bridges in their area. “With ‘Fix It First,’ the President is taking a bold and necessary move,” says LePatner. “We can no longer treat our infrastructure as a second- or third-tier priority when it comes to funding. President Obama seems to understand and the rest of the nation needs to know that the risks we face are not limited to the dangers they cause to the traveling public. They include jeopardizing our country’s entire commercial sector as well as our national security network.”
“I hope the nation’s other leaders realize that they can’t wait any longer to provide the needed funding to make our bridges safe,” he concludes. “They must act now. Concrete, steel, and money aren’t the only things at stake. Lives are at stake. Nothing is more important than that.”