When life was simpler, slower, and less complicated, my brother and I would play a game to pass the time during long car trips. Sitting in the back seat, we would watch as we approached a bridge.
When our car would start its trip over the span, we would each hold our breath to see who could last the longest without exhaling. Whoever gave in and breathed first would be responsible for the bridge collapsing, causing our family and any other innocent poor souls crossing the span at the same time to perish.
Not nearly as athletic as my older brother, I usually lost. Thank goodness we never ventured far from our home in northern Ohio. I like to think many lives were saved, as we never crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (4200 feet) in California, the George Washington Bridge (3500 feet) in New York City, or any bridge crossing the Mississippi River.
I thought of our game this past summer while watching the horrendous news footage of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis that caused 13 people to plummet to their deaths.
The 24-hour news networks couldn't give us enough details of the tragedy. And politicians clambered to the nearest microphones to wail about our decaying infrastructure, coupled with promises that the country should finally get serious about spending money to repair our bridges, dams, highways, etc.
That was only five months ago and our collective memories have gone blank. When was the last time you read a story in your local newspaper or saw a report on TV about our aging infrastructure?
It's a shame because our industry possesses the solutions to many of these problems. There are thousands of skilled contractors who step up daily with economical solutions to these problems. You can read about some of them in this month's issue.
In this election year, you owe it to yourselves, your family, and most importantly, to the country to keep this issue in the forefront. When a candidate speaks in your town the next few months, ask how he or she plans to fix our infrastructure. More importantly, hold the winner accountable, starting in January 2009.