Monday, August 19, 2013

Shoddy Construction

Here in my city it seems we are in a constant state of highway construction zones, at least for most of the year. No matter where I go there are traffic cones lined up on the side of the road or blocking off a lane or two. It's perpetual, a cycle that just moves from place to place and never stops. It seems like for every construction zone with active workers, there are 5 that are marked or bedazzled with cones and signs but completely devoid of anyone actually making any progress on the effort. But, that's part of living in an urban area in the US it seems.

What caught my eye today was travelling over a newly finished bridge. By “newly finished” I mean it became available for traffic today. The old bridge was torn down and a brand new one constructed. This shiny new robust piece of infrastructure should last 50 years like the last one.

Only I'm skeptical. Why?

A couple reasons. First off, a few years ago they closed an entire section of highway in my city for a year to rebuild it.  (they actually closed two sections this way for a year each)  They kept all traffic off so they had nothing to worry about- just tear up the old, put a new in. They didn't have to worry about doing it in sections or a lane at a time, but could pour a new section of highway without hassle.  And it wasn't a year before they construction crews were back on the brand new section doing repairs. In fact, each year since it's completion there have been lanes blocked off on the brand new section where crews make things right. That's unaceptable. Brand new highway should offer years of service before resurfacing is needed.

This brand new bridge has a surface that looks like crap. It's patchwork, rutted and not a damn bit of it is smooth. Seriously, it's like riding on railroad tracks, hopelessly ridged acros most of it's length. Who signed off on it's completion? The quality is something I'd expect from 1970's Soviet Union, not something brand new made with modern methods in the US. The surface looks worse than the bridge next to it that was made in the 50's and has been patched and resurfaced a number of times.

This isn't the only shoddy construction in the area, sadly it's becoming the norm. The other bridge section that has been redone in my city is the same way- a rough and rutted patchwork of concrete that had sections needing repair before the whole project was even finished. How is this allowable?

Well, we all know why it is allowable, corruption. The politicians are in league with the owners of the business the state and cities farm their work out to. Every project comes in over budget and the quality is garbage. Money that we pay in taxes in good faith is funneled to millionaire business owners by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. It's abhorent. 

The corruption is so endemic today that I can't envision getting rid of it without a move away from the two party system. It's well past time to vote out any incumbent that allows and participates in this chrony capitalism. Let's see some real change and stop stamping R and D on our ballot because we're convinced they represent our interests. They don't.  They pander to what you want to hear then work together to fuck us in every way possible, passing along money to their friends in industries like construction, energy and banking.

We have the power to change it at each election.  It's well past time.  When the United States can't even manage to pour a section of highway up to 1940's standards in 2013, it's time for change.  I think we can do it, it's a change that is well overdue.

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