Archive for roads

Bridge-it Loves Christie

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Pulaski Skyway Bridge Pulaski Skyway Bridge

What is it with boys and their toys? They just won't leave them alone sometimes. They have a fascination that they can't give up -- until they break them.

And NJ Governor Chris Christie may just have crossed that bridge too far.

Now comes another bridge scandal. No, really. Another bridge scandal. You just gotta love this guy, Christie. He doubles down when he thinks he can get away with something. He's determined to leave no bridge unturned.

Here's the latest from the Daily Beast:

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Christie's office for lobbying the Port Authority to divert $1.8 billion away from a canceled rail-tunnel project and towards repairing the Pulaski Skyway bridge. Pulaski is a state bridge, outside of the Port Authority's purview. The Christie administration recast the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel (they're not connected) in order to justify using Port Authority funds. The move is under scrutiny for potentially defrauding bond holders. Under the Martin Act, prosecutors could bring felony charges without proving intent to defraud. The SEC could also take civil action.

What's it all mean? Fraud.

Christie, who boasted he could balance the state's budget in his reelection stump speeches, couldn't. So he diverted funds from a public source, the billion dollar rail-tunnel project. Christie cancelled the project which was already underway then took the unspent funds and used them for repairs that were not authorized. He did it by claiming the bridge was an access road.

A bridge became an access road? Okay, that's stretching it, but we'll move on.

He then claimed this "access road" connected to the Lincoln Tunnel. It does NOT  lead or connect in any way, shape or form to the Lincoln Tunnel. That's like saying the Bridge over the River Kwai connected Burma with London.

So, just when you thought it was safe to return to New Jersey, think again. You may be following road signs from Trenton to New York City and end up in Pennsylvania thanks to Gov. Christie and his new road connection designations.

But if you want to speak to him, you better do it quickly. He may be moving his office to the New Jersey State Department of Corrections.

Looks like he's gonna have a bit more 'splainin' to do, Lucy.

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You Can Pay At The Pump Or At The Body Shop

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gas pumps

As if the price of gas isn't high enough already comes this news from The Hill:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is introducing legislation that would nearly double the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for federal transportation projects.

Blumenauer's bill would increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.

The legislation would result in drivers paying an extra 33.4 cents per gallon on their purchases, in addition to state taxes.

On the surface, this pisses me off. But then I got to thinking, you know what else pisses me off? Last week I hit a pot hole at night and damaged my car and threw the front tire out of alignment. I got it adjusted, but I was out a hundred dollars.

Streets aren't repairing themselves on their own. And bridges, overpasses, rail lines and runways aren't getting any safer with the lack of action by the 113th congress. They're content with just talking about our need to upgrade infrastructure. They're not willing to do anything about it.

We can't wait much longer. We're paying for it one way or another. If I hit that pothole, how many other people have done the same and how many more will be following behind me?

Blumenauer's bill sounds pricey. But when you come down to it, his proposed increase, along with the current federal tax on gasoline comes to less than 10% of the current price/gallon -- an amount similar to the sales tax in many places right now. But look what we could get for that. Safety on the roads, high speed rail upgrades (currently they exist only in California), repaired airport runways.

I'm not generally down for tax increases, but rather for taxes going down. Yet I'm also not for automobile repairs that are caused by a crumbling infrastructure. Maybe it's better to pay the 10% at the pump than face body shop work or worse, the potential loss of life.

Can we put a price on that? We're already paying in more ways than one. And consider this as well: The last time the federal gas tax was increased was 1993. You don't remember, do you? That's because we learned to live with it. And we didn't suffer irreparably. Prices didn't increase. Productivity didn't go down. People didn't lose jobs. So maybe it's time to pay the piper -- so long as he uses the money to employ the workers to fix the problems. That means jobs which help our economy and that's something we have do have to fix right away.

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Engineers: Thousands of US bridges dangerously close to collapsing, "only a matter of time"

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london bridge is falling down

Hey, remember when President Obama was out there campaigning for that crazy stimulus package? To rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? To make our roads and bridges safe again? And remember when Republicans obstructed and belittled him, saying that all he wanted to do was spend, spend, spend! and that would lead to the collapse of our already fragile economy!

How ironic, because by preventing a substantial economic stimulus program, those on the right are causing the collapse of our already fragile infrastructure before our very eyes, and very possibly the collapse of very lives and livelihoods.

According to the Times, "some of the most important bridge links in the country are now threatened by age." No sh**, Sherlock.

The Los Angeles Times:

America's roads and bridges have been eroding for decades, but the deeper they fall into disrepair, the less money there is to fix them. First, the recession crippled local budgets, cutting the money available for transportation projects. As states began to recover, the federal government adopted its own mandatory budget cuts via sequestration. Then last month, the federal legislation that annually funds transportation projects across the country hit a roadblock of Republican opposition that throttled multibillion-dollar transportation bills in the House and Senate. [...]

Every day, U.S. commuters are taking more than 200 million trips across deficient bridges, according to a variety of analyses, and at least 8,000 bridges across the country are both "structurally deficient" and "fracture critical" — engineering terms for bridges that could fail if even a single component breaks. [...]

Officials from several states, including Pennsylvania, have warned that without substantial new federal funding of the kind recently roadblocked in Congress, they may be forced to close many of their deficient bridges, potentially preventing cars, emergency vehicles and school buses from getting to entire neighborhoods. [...]

Got that, Republicans? Because you blocked funding, Americans are facing life-threatening situations, whether it be the misfortune of crossing a bridge just as it falls to pieces, or being denied emergency care due to a lack of access. Nice.

I live in Southern California, and per the Times report, 16 bridges right here in the Los Angeles area are "in the highest-risk category, aging and subject to collapse with the failure of a single component."

Thanks, GOP. You've done it again.

Via .ecobumperstickers.com

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Dangers of Your Love Affair

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Auto love affair

With Detroit going bankrupt, I'm reminded of what was once referred to as Motor City. It was a thriving business and a soulful sound in music. Now the banging, clanging mixed in with the Motown downbeat have grinded to an ignominious silence.

How can we turn away from the  backbone of one of our great cities?

I'm hoping that a little walk down memory lane with the major products of Detroit is appropriate at this time. So while I mourn a once great city, and pray for a speedy resolve (listen to Ed Schultz for the solution) it might be interesting to examine a few thoughts on America's love affair with the automobile. It's probably not going to end in our lifetime -- but ironically it could end our lifetime. So take a gander at these couple of questions and see what you know about our driving habits as you "See the USA in Your Chevrolet," as Dinah Shore used to sing.

1. What state are you most likely to die in a car crash?

2. What state are you least likely to know the rules of the road? (warning, trick answer)

3. What state has the worst teen drivers?

4. What state has the worst senior drivers?

5. What state has the most distracted drivers?

Get Answers1. Montana, 2. District of Columbia, 3. South Dakota, 4. Florida, 5. Tennessee

Now put that knowledge to good use.  Stay healthy, stay alive.  And help Detroit do the same.  Contact your congressperson and senator and let them know you want to see a bailout -- if we can put the cash in Wall Street, we can add some bop shoo bop and some much needed bucks for Motown. Don't let these memories die.

Motown

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Infrastructure Spending Anyone?

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construction

Andy Marquis, reporter for RACE22.com, is a guest blogger. He used to consider himself a Republican but not any more.  He changed his voter registration to Independent in 2011 and says that’s how it will remain.

Here’s his latest guest post:

So here I am sitting in a café in Blacksburg, Virginia because we are working our third full day without power at my home in Copper Hill.  I’ve had a lot of time to knock out some books on my extensively long reading list, but I’ve had a lot of time to think as well, and I’ve been thinking about all those who went weeks without power after Hurricane Sandy.

In all the barking going on in Washington about cutting spending and cutting taxes, I’ve not heard one person talk about the need to invest in our outdated infrastructure.  Infrastructure spending used to be bipartisan common sense, but not anymore.  President Obama and other Democrats have been stonewalled on anything and everything in terms of infrastructure by a radical TEA Party faction that is so extreme in its hatred of government that they’d rather see the country burn.

An infrastructure spending omnibus makes sense in urban and rural areas.  It puts people back to work immediately after it’s signed in to law by the President.  Infrastructure spending should’ve been discussed after the 2003 blackout, it should have been discussed after the I-35W bridge collapse and it should’ve been discussed after Hurricane Sandy.  But once that discussion takes place, people will realize that government can be an instrument of good and that’s something the TEA Party, and the mainstream Republican Party that continues to appease them, do not want to say.

If we discuss ways of making homes, current and future, more energy independent and we talk about ways people can cut back on power consumption, we can have a short term impact on the overloaded power grid and a long term impact on the goal of becoming more green, a goal this country should have.  If we start upgrading the power grid, nationally, and we start repairing and replacing outdated bridges, and paving dirt roads, and making rural areas just a little more modern, we can put able bodied people back to work and create a better country for everyone.

Or we can continue to not do a damn thing while China invests in its infrastructure and continues to attract private sector growth.  The Democrats know the government can work for everyone and make us more competitive again.  Independents know this.  Even moderate Republicans know this must be done.  And, maybe, if we do something, the next hurricane or the next ice storm will be a mere inconvenience and not a catastrophic event that disrupts the entire nation’s productivity in a growing workforce.

Until then, let’s all buckle up because going off this fiscal cliff is going to be a bumpy ride.

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Video Overnight Thread- Road Trip Via Google Street View

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Please, do not be under the influence while watching this, but do read the explanation. Via.

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