Louisville, Let’s Do The Math

Louisville's Bridge to Nowhere?
Louisville waits to ride bikes across this bridge.

OK, I never claimed to be as smart as a fifth grader, but I can still add and subtract – without a calculator. Yet today’s news headlines challenge me to sort through the word problems. The stuff I hear on the radio and read in the newspapers remind me of those word problems that almost kept me from passing to the sixth grade. That was back when we walked and rode bikes to school.

The smart kids in my class went on to become civil engineers. Some of them belong to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Kentucky Section. They recently handed out their own report cards on the state’s roads, bridges and other systems like schools and water resources. They gave Kentucky a “C” – but it was an average of all kinds of stuff. I wish these people had been passing out grades in my math and science classes.

Kentucky earned a “C”, but our bridges and roads rated “poor.” Repair and replacement costs are estimated at $1.2 billion. Here’s where the math eludes me. We’ve got structurally deficient bridges with a $1.2 billion price tag. Meanwhile, today our state faces serious financial problems just keeping up with pothole repair. And Uncle Sam is in worse shape – borrowing trillions of dollars and looking to cut $100 billion from federal programs to fulfill republican campaign promises.

As if that were not enough red ink, we have people here in Louisville campaigning for two more bridges we haven’t found a way to pay for. In fact, the price tags were estimated 10 years ago, way before the U.S. economy went down the toilet. Since then the Chinese have loaned us trillions. And today I understand that the Germans want to buy the New York Stock Exchange.

Are you with me so far?

Here are my troubling math problems:

First, how do you earn a passing grade on structural integrity when the bridges your people drive on every day are structurally deficient? Isn’t “poor” a “D,” and not a “C”?

Second, how do you pay to repair $1.2 billion worth of damage to existing bridges when your state is almost broke and the federal government is trying to slash $100 billion from all of its programs?

Finally, if the Chinese and Germans are going to own America, can’t we just get them to pay these bills? How do they expect us to get to Wal-Mart, to keep spending money, to keep the financial engines roaring?

Someone help me here. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Grace. Peace. Bicycle Grease.

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane. Share the road.

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Enjoy the ride home.
© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI
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