Washington, D.C. – Iron Workers’s General President Walter Wise issued a call Friday for Congress to address the problem of America’s crumbling infrastructure. “The collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington serves as a reminder that this can’t wait until after the next election,” said Wise, adding that “infrastructure maintenance and improvement is not a partisan issue.”
President Wise points to years of poor reports on the state of the country’s infrastructure to make the case that action on this issue is long overdue. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s bridges a grade of D+ this year. The Washington bridge collapse and the 2007 collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minnesota illustrate the pressing safety threat posed by substandard bridges.
The Ironworkers have also called for high standards in bridge construction. They point to the San Francisco Area Bay Bridge, which has been built using substandard Chinese steel and fabrication. To date, the bridge has suffered numerous failures and delays related to its materials and construction. Amid continuing reports of these setbacks, the federal government has begun an investigation and California Governor Jerry Brown has called for a review of the California Department of Transportation.
Unfortunately, none of these problems can be addressed without congressional action. Senate gridlock resulting from an unprecedented 360 filibusters from the Republican minority has destroyed even the bi-partisanship normally associated with infrastructure investment and safety. “Unemployed construction workers and at-risk commuters are all waiting on Congress to do what’s right for the American people.” Wise concludes, “How much longer will they have to wait?”