Our View: How long to build a bridge?

 

Our View: How long to build a bridge?

 

Date: November 30, 2011
by: Observer Staff

 
 

 

It’s difficult to maintain a healthy optimism these days. Especially when we are forced to traipse through that vast flood of political cowardice and incompetence that flows daily out of the U.S. Capitol and White House.

Seriously. All the congressional super committee members had to agree on was how to slow federal government spending over 10 years by $1.2 trillion. That’s $1.2 trillion out of a projected cumulative deficit of $44 trillion. All they needed to pare was a mere 2.7% of future spending. They weren’t even tasked with actually spending less than we’re spending now. Just reducing spending growth.

And they could not even do that. Predictably.

On a far, far smaller scale closer to home, and yet also illustrative of the times, Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker last week released a new timetable to move forward on building a bridge — a bridge that heretofore has been in discussion and planning for 10 years — 10 years! (Remind you of another bridge in these parts?)

The bridge, of course, is the proposed Fort Hamer Bridge, which would connect Upper Manatee River Road to Fort Hamer Park and provide another north-south thoroughfare in an area that surely will need it.
Ten months ago, the U.S. Coast Guard threw yet another delay into this bridge project when it requested a study on whether expanding the Rye Road Bridge farther east may be a better alternative.

Now, Hunzeker comes forth with another schedule the Coast Guard requires Manatee County government to conduct — all because federal law requires Coast Guard approval for structures crossing navigable bodies of water (see the accompanying box). It will take another year just to get the Coast Guard to rule on the bridge’s design.

And if it approves, the county then would begin the permitting process with multiple other government agencies.

Multiply the Fort Hamer Bridge by the thousands — thousands of projects around the United States that must endure this kind of bureaucracy and cost. And this is all at taxpayer expense — taxpayers pouring their hard-earned wages into the unproductive holes of wasteful bureaucracy.

This is why our nation is deteriorating economically and fiscally bankrupt.

Think about it: 70 years ago this nation mobilized in a way never before seen to fight and win a world war, the war of all wars. And it did all of that in four years.

Here we are today, two generations later, and we can’t build a tiny bridge in less than a decade, and we can’t stop politicians from spending money they don’t have.

It’s enough to depress you. But as the Latin saying goes: “Illegitimi non carborundum” — we can’t let the b------- grind us down!

+ Gator Nation is growling
Many of the University of Florida’s faithful football boosters are in an uproar over former Gator coach Urban Meyer signing on with the Ohio State University.

But they should put themselves in his shoes. Even though you said a year ago you were quitting your job at UF to spend more time with your family, when you suddenly found yourself offered one of the premier college-football coaching positions in the country and $40 million, what would you do? Say “no thanks?”
Don’t begrudge Meyer.

We likely will never know the whole story behind Meyer’s leaving his Gator job. That is, until he writes his tell-all book, which, no doubt, will come as long as he is as successful at Ohio State as he was at UF.

But it could be as simple as this: A lot of retired business executives find out that when they retire to spend more time with their families, it’s great for six months. But after six months, their spouses and family members can’t stand to have them around the house. Maybe it wasn’t Meyer who wanted a job; maybe it was his wife who wanted him to get one!

Suffice it to say, Meyer’s going to OSU gives both teams — Gators and Buckeyes — a good reason to put each other on their annual schedules. If you think the Gators and Seminoles are raucous grudge matches, wait until the Buckeyes come to the Swamp.


NEW TIMETABLE FOR FORT HAMER BRIDGE
Early December: Return comment responses to U.S. Coast Guard
End of January 2012: Re-submit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
End of March 2012: Receive U.S. Coast Guard comments
End of April 2012: Finalize DEIS
Mid-May 2012: Announce public hearing
Mid-July 2012: Conduct public hearing
End of July 2012: Close period meant for public comment
Early August 2012: Re-start design
Mid-October 2012: Submit 90% plans
Mid-November 2012: Receive 90% county comments
End of January 2013: Submit 100% plans 

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