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Don’t Blame the American People, Mr. President — Golden Gate Bridges Are Not “Shovel Ready”

October 26, 2011

Obama Rhetoric
“We have lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge.”

 – President Obama,  at a fundraiser in San Francisco on October 25, 2011

“To explain why our structurally insufficient bridges may have to wait for replacement or repair, it’s useful to begin with some realities that might have been overlooked during the distracting economic panic and political euphoria when the stimulus was patched together earlier this year. The administration emphasized the funding of so-called shovel-ready projects that could begin right away.  Just because a term is pithy doesn’t mean it’s a good blueprint for a massive civil engineering program. Shovel-ready in the Bay Area has meant steering $145 million in Obama stimulus money toward the kind of ordinary road maintenance that should be conducted with ordinary government income, not with borrowed money. Imagine a household taking out a loan to mow the grass each week. ‘This whole shovel-ready thing has been frustrating for a lot of us,’ Metropolitan Transit Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler said. ‘The Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, built in a time of economic downturn, weren’t shovel-ready. If we are going to borrow money from our children — which, with the stimulus, we are — we should make investments that last.’”

– (“Obama’s stimulus money will increase traffic, but not bridge safety,” San Francisco Weekly, September 16, 2009.  MTC is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the San Francisco Bay Area. Note that San Francisco city officials started reviewing the possibility of a bridge in 1919, and the construction timeline for the Golden Gate Bridge started in December 1932, and took over four years from beginning to end in April 1937.)