August 2nd, 2007
11:07 AM ET
10 years ago

Reid: Country needs to look at infrastructure

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Thursday that the Minneapolis bridge collapse should be a “wake-up call” for the country.

“We have all over the country crumbling infrastructure - highways, bridges, dams - and we really need to take a hard look at this,” said Reid.

In addition to being the “right thing to do,” Reid also said that repairing infrastructure was “good for America.” “For every billion dollars we spend in our crumbling infrastructure, 47,000 high-paying jobs are created,” added Reid.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to Minneapolis to investigate the cause of the bridge collapse.

- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Filed under: Harry Reid
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Chris Purcell, Billings, Montana

    Senator Reid, if you really feel that is the case then my suggestion to you is that you can propose a law to make illegal ANY AND ALL EARMARKS, and use that money to spread evenly thoughout this country to support and repair infrastructure and stop with the stupid bridges to nowhere. No earmark should be allowed that does not comply with that.

    August 2, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. GC,oxford, MI

    Metal fatigue that propogated stress fractures during the peak load period(rush hour)will be shown to be the cause of the bridge's failure. But go ahead and wait for 'proof' of what caused the failure, I suppose some wayward repair worker happened to loosen just the wrong bolt that set off a catastrophic series of events. Stop panicking about a tax increase when you should panic about become the next victim of habitual neglect. $600 Billion + has flown out of the woodwork to fund the war in Iraq, that if my recollection serves me right was supposed to be paid for by Iraq's oil revenues. Funny how that worked.

    August 2, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. ReadBtwthlins

    Will someone please tell Harry that he is already getting a 75 cents a gallon road tax. Is he advocating raising it??

    August 2, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Coleen, West Springfield, MA

    Colin in Milwaukee has his head in the sand! How many bridges must collapse and how many steam pipes must explode before our President focuses on the needs of this country and rebuilding its infrastructure over that of Iraq!

    August 2, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Dr. Robert Margreg

    Lets see now; we know for sure that a Trillion dollars of war money was NOT spent on American Infrastructure. This is what tax cuts get you.

    August 2, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. justin paglino

    ASCE's 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure indicated that between 2000 and 2003, the percentage of the nation's 590,750 bridges rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete decreased slightly from 28.5% to 27.1%. However, it will cost $9.4 billion a year for 20 years to eliminate all bridge deficiencies. Long-term underinvestment is compounded by the lack of a federal transportation program.

    » To learn more about the Report Card's assessment of bridges, click here.
    » For more information on ASCE's 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure and our Infrastructure Action Plan, click here.

    August 2, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Tom (Chicago, IL)

    You're exactly right. But the other unspoken issue behind much of the crumbling infrastructure is due to taxes or lack thereof.

    There was a special news segment on America's crumbling roads on CBS recently and it was said the problem started roughly 25 years ago. Interesting to think that Reagan reduced the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% by end of his tenure and yet people don't connect the two.

    You don't have to be an economist to understand that we lost BILLIONS and BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars in revenue, revenue that could and should have been used in part to maintain and improve our fundamental infrastructure.

    Then again why should we expect any different if we elect people who have open contempt for government and government programs and who say things like "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help-Ronald Reagan'."

    What incentive do they have to ensure that government programs and projects are well funded and excuted efficiently and effectively?

    If these programs fail, rather than take accountability, they can simply shift the blame to "government" as a whole and make the push for privatization.

    August 2, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Patty, Pittsburgh, PA

    I don't know that it's fair to accuse Reid of "alarmist statements," not when the State of Minnesota saw fit to let motorists continue to drive across a heavily traveled bridge that received a 50% rating from inspectors two years ago. And not when Minnesota's governor tried to downplay the decision not to repair the structural deficiencies because there are so many thousands of bridges across America today with similar structural deficiencies.

    I'd say it's past time for us to get alarmed and to insist that our politicians do more than bemoan our "crumbing infrastructure" around election time. And, yes, that may mean more taxes or wiser (though less popular) use of tax monies than constructing sports stadiums or building pork barrel bridges to nowhere in Alaska or not recklessly invading Middle Eastern countries to "spread democracy," which seems to result in a trillion-dollar quagmire.

    Can we please have some pragmatic and responsible leadership in this country?

    August 2, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. William Glover

    I read a previous comment about this story and I just had to stop and go Wow. This has been a growing problem for years, but like driving a car and never checking the oil and water things that are unpleasant will happen. Many of us have known that the electric grid is in bad shape yet nothing is done, roads and highways falling apart the states do what they can with very little help. Bridges and and becoming more unsafe, but to fix any of this would take real commitment and some sacrifice. So while these issues are not a look another celebrity in trouble kind of story, they are disasters in the making. Not worthy of attention even on a slow news day, but heck 6.8 million elderly and disabled having their health care in jeopardy is not worth a mention, but now back to short attention span theater, oh look shiny object.

    August 2, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Brian Donohue

    Harry's right, if a little late. I've been saying this at my blog for about two years, and repeated it again a couple weeks back when a steampipe blew up in New York, about three blocks away from where I'm sitting, killing one and injuring 30. What if we used a tenth of what is spent on Iraq and rapacious corporate contractors (in Iraq and elsewhere) to monitor and repair our own country's infrastructure? Oh, I see, that would be socialism; excess government; but starting and funding a useless war while pushing your country into second-class nation status is democracy. Oh, I get it now...

    August 2, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Roger Lancaster, Washington DC

    The needs of improving our entire infrastructure (bridges, highways, dams, water systems, etc.)up to standard is around $1.6 trillion...the amount we have spent so far on the Iraq war-$1.6 trillion....hmmmmmm. Wonder sometimes where our values lie...

    August 2, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Michael Green

    I would ask Colin whether the story about Harry Reid's comments on the tragedy in Minneapolis included the assignment of any blame. The answer is simply no. Anyone who lives in the United States should be conscious of these problems and Reid merely reminded us of something that the Bush administration would never do unless the Chickenhawk crooks who run and support it could profit from it personally.

    August 2, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Laura, Los Angeles, CA

    "Nothing like shooting off a "our infrastructure is in dire need of attention' before even having proof of the cause."

    Are you paying attention? The bridge received a 50 out of 120 rating for structural stability two years ago. TWO YEARS!!

    Just like New Orleans, the federal government knew there was a problem, yet did nothing about it.

    August 2, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Jay, Charlottesville, VA

    Hey Colin, not sure what country you live in, but mine is in dire need of repair. In my native Pennsylvania, the roads and bridges are some of the worst in nation and nothing is being done about it. Sadly, these matters are never in talking points for politicians and even Reid will forget about this in a few weeks.

    August 2, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Andy, New York, NY

    Our Infrastructure is falling apart. Didn't we learn that with the levees in New Orleans after Katrina?

    Instead this administration would rather spend money in a big sink hole like Iraq, where everything is just going to be blown up anyway. I am tired of all our tax money going to Iraq.

    A civilzed country means GOOD government, and a decent infrastructure. That is why we have the FDA, so we are not eating unregulated food like they are in China (even though we have been importing it).

    What I don't get is: if Republicans like Mitt Romney do not like government and an infrastructure, like say -schools, stoplights, air traffic control – and only like spending money on weapons – why don't they just move to a country like Somalia? Maybe they would be happier in a place with no government or no infrastructure at all! (but lots of weapons)

    August 2, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Lee, St. Charles, IL

    He's right about the infrastructure. I never realized how bad it is until I recently traveled to Europe. Germany, in particular, is in much better shape in terms of public highways, transit systems, and public buildings. Heck, just drive over the border to Canada, and it's amazing the contrast.

    August 2, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Barabas, Hot Coty, TX

    Nice way to assume that this is a government problem. He's just trying to win over people to get votes by acting like he is "protecting" them. When was the last time you heard about a bridge just collapsing on its own? This was probably a fluke event caused by some worker's oversight. This is like saying that we need to "take a long hard look" at repairing every airplane in America because of the last plane crash, when there are thousands of flights every day that take off and land with no problems. What a gross exaggeration of a non-problem that is only meant to scare people. Give me a break.

    August 2, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Minneapolis, MN

    You republicans whiners have to look beyond the immediate. Look at the massive power grid failure 4 years ago. Whats been done about it? NOTHING!

    This is GOP govt in action... or INACTION rather.

    August 2, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Dennis, Lexington Park, MD

    I agree with Steve. It seems to be the GOPs desire to let only the ultra-rich ever get anything out of our government. Ask the Deep South and Katrina victims.

    They've cut Veteran's Health Care, Children's Health Care, Pell Grants and everything conceivable to try to hurt Americans.

    They want to get rid of Corporate Group Health Insurance plans altogether and force everyone to pay 3 times as much for private Health Insurance plans. They want to get rid of Social Security and MedicAid.

    The Republicans motto for '08 ought to be "Steal from the needy and give to the greedy!" Wait... That's already Rush Limbaugh's motto. Isn't it?

    In that case, I guess they'll just have to stick to their current motto: "Death to America!"

    August 2, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. JustinF

    1,000,000,000/47,000 = $21,276.59

    Is that what Harry considers a high-paying job? What about everyone else…, are we “the rich”??


    You obviously don't understand how money flows in the economy – the billion dollars is not divided among the workers directly, it pays their salaries and tehy in turn buy food and clothes, etc. Every dollar has more than $1 worth of impact.

    August 2, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Modesto, Medium-Sized City, Florida

    I work as a city planner, and public works engineering magazines and journals have been discussing this for decades. Everyone wants to build stuff, but few want to spend what it takes to properly maintain that stuff. And those who properly point out that the immense sums being pissed away in Iraq that are not being spent in America are exactly right.

    August 2, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Toby, Uniontown, PA

    To the near-sight folks here...The infrastructure wasn't pristine in 2000 and suddenly "in dire need of attention" in 2001. This has been going on for years, not since GWB (Not George Washington Bridge). But it's always a hoot to see the implications that it's all HIS fault and not Clinton for the previous 8 years. The bigger problem is relying on the Government to bail us out of this one. DOT is a slush fund for the idiots in Congress and the White House. Just another way to tax us to death and spend OUR money on a few pet projects. DOT is not required, mandated or even mentioned in the Constitution. Tell me why , again, we are continuing down this road (pun intended)?

    August 2, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. B.D. Jensen, Hopkins, MN

    It is a Party Issuse. How much more proof do we need of the total and utter FAILURE of the Conserative Republican agenda? From poison food do to the lack of inspectors, to our border safty and now our infrastructure, all because of their unreasonable attack on taxes (which every Christian knows that Jesus endorsed, read da Bible) and their fear of talking about the real issuses, not the made-up ones they use before a election (gay marriage, years ago it was term limits) that they forget about after the election. When you always ONLY react we will always be behind but when you are proactive, you fix things before they get bad. Republicans = reactive & Democrats = Proactive. Which would you rather have....?

    August 2, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Shaun, Kailua, HI

    There are bridges in Baghdad that need our urgent attention and schools in Iraq that need to be painted by our highly trained US military. Priorities people.

    August 2, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Barabas, Hot City, TX

    Hey Minneapolis:

    I'd say that that ONE major grid failure 4 YEARS AGO isn't that bad. There are not many things that last 4 years without having problems. Again, why is this a government problem? Oh's because Democrats want everything to be a government problem so they can blame it on the republicans.

    August 2, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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