Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More on the bridge collapse

Robert Puentes, a fellow at The Brookings Institution, published a good op-ed about problems with and solutions needed for the nation's transportation system, using the Minnesota bridge collapse as a focal point. You can read the whole thing here. Highlights below.

...two years ago this month President Bush signed a nearly $300 billion transportation law that was infamously known for its 6,300 pet pork project earmarks. Analysts have been quick to pounce this week on projects like the "bridge to nowhere" as the root of the nation's transportation woes.

They are missing the bigger picture. Even though the $20 billion that comes from the thousands and thousands of earmark projects is a lot of money by any measure, this is only about 5 percent of the overall federal transportation program.

The real problem is that we have a national transportation framework that is adrift. It takes an almost agnostic approach to how those billions of dollars are spent and it does not hold the recipients of the federal money - the states, mainly - accountable for meeting any kind of national goals or objectives....

...there is no accountability for meeting even the most basic performance goals and objectives such as safety, congestion relief, or improving air quality.

The federal government needs to make the preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the existing system a national priority and it needs to take a lead role in holding the states accountable for doing so. Safety should be assumed, not hoped for.

No comments: