Bridging the Gap: Restoring and Rebuilding the Nation's by John Horsley, Executive Director

By John Horsley, Executive Director

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This isn’t to say everything was rosy. Employees were uprooted from their offices. There were days when the jackhammering wouldn’t stop. There were water leaks of mysterious origin. We took everything in stride and often with a sense of humor. We had our work to do, regardless of outside distractions and inconveniences. And the bridge builders had their job to do, which was to build “our” bridge. Yes, we feel it’s ours—sort of a family project built with all our friends at Metro Public Works, Ray Bell Construction, Gresham & Smith, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, consummate professionals every one.

South Padre Island lost its only connection with the mainland on September 15, 2001, when a barge collided with a bridge support sending three 80-foot sections of the causeway into the water. Unaware of the collapse several motorists drove their vehicles into the water below. Eight people died, and three were rescued. Thousands were stranded on the island and private charter boats and other water craft took part in the massive evacuation. The economic impact to the South Padre Island was enormous.

With over 2,000 bridges in fair or poor condition, Maine’s economy cannot afford to have the highway network become unconnected, nor can we allow unsafe bridges to stay open. ” The state legislature of Maine recently approved additional funds dedicated to bridges. The Tennessee Department of Transportation reports, “we have been impacted by rising materials costs and fewer federal revenues than anticipated as well as relatively flat state revenue returns. This requires us to look at the most costeffective way of addressing our structurally deficient bridges.

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