Friday, August 03, 2007

Bridge Collapse

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is certainly tragic, but this is a more common occurrence lately. A bridge collapsed in Laval, Quebec recently as well, though I don't think there were any casualties, fortunately.

This is what happens when too many critical areas of a country's infrastructure is left solely to the state to maintain. Even in the sue-happy US, can you even take the city/state to court for something like this? You could if a private company was in charge of maintaining the bridge. Contracts should be extended to private companies and paid for with the same tax dollars that are already collected for roadwork (and bridge work). The private company would have the responsibility to maintain the safety and quality of the highways and bridges for which they have been commissioned. The proviso is that they can be sued if the road/bridge is kept in an unsafe condition...especially if a bridge collapses. For larger road/bridge works, allow them to charge a toll for their use.

There's a highway in Toronto (the 407) that is billed as the world's first all electronic open-access toll highway. If you use it, you can either be billed by using a transponder that shows when and how far you travelled on the 180 KM route, or, in the absence of a transponder, the highway uses a video system to track your license plate and you are billed by mail. The highway is privately run and is both well-maintained and efficient. I have no problem with it being a toll highway, and, in fact, would use this model to bring about more efficient highway systems everywhere else.

The kumbaya-singing, sandal-wearing hemp folk would scream about the evils of capitalism, but screw them. Government's can barely handle their own internal processes properly, let alone be in charge of something as large and complex as highway infrastructure.