In his speech last Thursday, Barack Obama said this:
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?
There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.
This bridge — the Brent Spence, connecting Covington and Cincinnati – is “functionally obsolete” according to the Department of Transportation and this summer large chunks of concrete began falling from the upper deck onto the lower one.
Most people would identify this as a problem.
The I-71/I-75 bridge is a key connector between Michigan, northern Ohio, Upstate New York and the Great Lakes and the industries, consumers and shippers of the American South, in particular, Florida. According to the DOT (pdf):
“The Brent Spence Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1963, was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day. Currently, approximately 160,000 vehicles per day use the Brent Spence Bridge and traffic volumes are projected to increase to approximately 233,000 vehicles per day in 2035.”
Except for the fact it’s Barack Obama talking about fixing it. And it might require closing tax loopholes for billion dollar corporations. And it might mean a very, very small group of very, very rich people might pay the same taxes they paid before the war and before the Bush Tax Cuts bankrupted the country.
But with those few words, Obama made the bridge a top priority for replacement and, perhaps, a subtle jab at House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“I appreciate the president highlighting this project and I trust this means that when the planning for this project is solidified this administration will prioritize it,” McConnell said Friday.
Whether it will help win their support for his jobs plan remains to be seen.
“I’m less enthused by the president lumping a crucial artery for goods and services in America together with a call for another stimulus and massive tax increases,” McConnell added.
Translation: Mitch McConnell’s going to fight Barack Obama, he’s going to fight the jobs bill, he’s going to pretend it’s a stimulus package and he’s going to pretend the last one failed. He’s going to lie, cheat and steal because, as he has made clear, Mitch McConnell’s one-and-only mission is:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
In Mitch McConnell’s world, America can go itself. Let the bridge crumble. Let it fail. Let us fall.
As for Kentucky… who cares about Kentucky?
Certainly not Mitch McConnell. Or Rand Paul. Or Hal Rogers… or Geoff Davis, the Congressman who supposedly serves the people of Northern Kentucky most affected by this bridge. And it’s not just Davis, of course. The entire state is affected by the flow of traffic along these interstates, with I-75 in particular driving commerce and investments right through our center, with thousands and thousands of jobs depending on that continued flow of traffic.
But the state’s Republican delegation have all stated their opposition to the plan the President laid out last Thursday.
The Republicans of the Commonwealth of Kentucky would rather see the Brent Spence Bridge fail than see Barack Obama succeed.They would rather see Kentucky fail than see an America with a modern transportation infrastructure.
And if one bridge was not enough…
The day after Barack Obama’s speech, another bridge to Kentucky was closed:
The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed late Friday afternoon and will remain shut down indefinitely after officials discovered cracks in the span.
Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said officials “do not have an estimate” on how long it will take to repair and reopen the bridge, which carries Interstate 64 traffic across the Ohio River.
Wingfield said the cracks were found in two steel support beams below the lower deck closer to the Kentucky side.
The bridge to Mitch McConnell’s hometown is falling apart — how long can his opposition to an investment in America stand?
Unlike the Sherman Minton Bridge, the will of Mitch McConnell and the Kentucky Republican Party doesn’t seem to be crumbling.
The closure came just a day after President Obama renewed his call for Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy and address the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, as studies have shown the nation needs $2 trillion in investment just to bring its infrastructure up to date. McConnell criticized Obama’s plan, saying it was “a re-election plan.”
But while McConnell insists that Republicans “agree that we must bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century standards,” his recent record doesn’t show it. When progressives and Democrats argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be geared toward infrastructure, the GOP under McConnell’s leadership fought to focus it on tax cuts. The Senate GOP derailed a 2010 jobs plan focused largely on infrastructure investment, and if McConnell’s post-speech rhetoric is to be believed, he will be at the forefront of the Republican Party’s opposition to this plan too.
Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Republican Party are so dedicated to the cause of Obama’s failure that they will allow America’s failure and this state’s failure.
With the failure of these bridges, Kentucky can return to the 19th Century, cut off from manufacturing, produce, consumer goods and jobs.
The old story of Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is just that… an old story. It’s time for a new one and Mitch McConnell (and Rand, Geoff, Ed, Hal and Brett) are writing it.
You don’t need a bridge to get to their Kentucky because, as everyone will soon know, Kentucky is nowhere.
As the state seal might someday read:
United we stand, Divided our bridges fall.