Tolls, Gregoire said, will be a part of the finance package...
"The interesting questions there are: Do we start tolling before we even begin construction on the bridge to make sure the tolls can be lower when it's ultimately opened? Do we do variable tolling to reduce congestion and give more choices to consumers? Do we have to toll someplace else because we're going to push traffic in a big way" to other bridges? "In my mind, we are going to toll. How do we toll?"The current Columbia bridge is considered a "bottleneck," but Gregoire is also raising the specter of safety and disaster. According to The Oregonian:
Gregoire said last summer's collapse of an interstate bridge in Minneapolis was "a wake-up call to this nation."
"The interstate bridges that connect Vancouver and Portland are heavily used and aging, and it is time to replace them in the name of safety as well as economic vitality," she said.The Minneapolis bridge became the poster child for America's aging infrastructure, but Gregoire may have to look for another example. On Jan. 15, the New York Times reported:
Investigators said Monday that the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, which collapsed into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, killing 13, came down because of a flaw in its design.
The designers had specified a metal plate that was too thin to serve as a junction of several girders, investigators say....
The I-35W bridge was of a type called "fracture critical," meaning that the failure of any major member would cause a collapse, because it had no redundancy. The design is lighter and less expensive to build, but has gradually fallen out of favor with highway departments.This doesn't mean that infrastructure isn't aging and that it doesn't need additional inspection, repair and possible replacement. But the situation in Minnesota isn't a case of neglected maintenance but likely a case of human error or poor judgement. The case for bridge replacement can be made without hyping the Minnesota tragedy.
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