Letter: ‘Wake-Up Call’ From Taxpayers

To the Editor:

The National Transportation Safety Board says that the recent bridge collapse over the Skagit River in Washington state is a national “wake-up call.” Really? A call for what?

The bridge’s steel structure was hit by a truck that was too tall. According to Debbie Hersman, chairman of the safety board, the structure may have received other “hits,” too. I guess the last one was more than the structure could withstand. She also said that the entryway for the bridge was above the height that would have required Washington state to post a warning. However, the bridge entryway was higher or lower depending on exactly where you entered the structure on the roadway; there was also no sign warning of those height issues.

Hersman says she wants to make sure this kind of accident can’t happen elsewhere. OK, here’s how she can do it. Call on states to make sure that there are adequate warning signs about bridges’ height and load capacities and that all truck drivers and trucking companies receive information about any restrictions pertaining to the bridges they use. It’s really as simple as that.

Taxpayers already answered a “wake-up call.” Their tax dollars went into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That little gem purportedly provided “stimulus” money for “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects. Of course, we found out long ago that there were no “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects and that the money was spent elsewhere. If the Skagit River Bridge was in need of immediate repair, there was, or should have been, stimulus money available for the project.

Taxpayers are sick and tired of the government crying wolf with “wake-up calls” that demand more money for phantom projects or for work for the favored few. If government needs to spend money in one place, it has to be forced to reduce expenses elsewhere in an amount equal to what it wants to spend. Taxpayers can no longer tolerate a mentality that spends today and hopes for a better tomorrow.

Alan Tanenbaum