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May 13, 2014 at 6:45 AM

America’s shabby, crumbling infrastructure is a scandal

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which launched the Interstate Highway System, helped power the national economy and link all corners of the country.

America’s greatness was nurtured by those kinds of investments.

We ignore the care and maintenance of our basic national infrastructure at our collective peril. Refusing to build and maintain roads, bridges, airports and related civic investments is foolish.  And we have been doing it for decades.

Faced with the Federal Highway Trust Fund turning to dust in August, the Obama White House is supposed to lean on Congress this week to pump more money into the account.

Congress has not raised the federal tax on gasoline or diesel for years and years. Closing some business loopholes might attract more votes.

I-5 bridge collapse over the Skagit River, May 2013. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I-5 bridge collapse over the Skagit River, May 2013.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This state knows the problem is real. We had an I-5 bridge fall into the water just short of a year ago. Highways across America have potholes or, maybe, pot chasms.

There is nothing partisan about this topic. A functioning transportation system is how goods get from farm to market, factories to store shelves, to shipping terminals and airports for movement overseas. Red states, blues states – all have a stake in a system that allows Americans to freely move about.

Every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers assesses the status of U.S. infrastructure and issues a report card. The survey was done in 2013, and the letter grade is out: D+.

Ignore a problem, and the numbers get ugly. An estimated $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020 for all of the remedial homework.

So why the stalling and the endless excuses? Is this what happens when the national economy goes from manufacturing to swapping bits of colored paper and inventing financial schemes? Getting on with getting about is a basic task for Congress.

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