Can this administration be any more incompetent?
(IBD) — The 48-year-old Brent Spence Bridge spanning the Ohio River near Cincinnati isn’t much to look at. But for President Obama, it’s become a rallying cry for his $477 billion jobs plan.
He referred to it in his Sept. 8 speech to Congress, saying “there’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.” And on Thursday he plans to use Brent Spence as the backdrop for another pitch for his jobs bill, which includes $27 billion in “immediate” highway spending.
But while local officials are delighted with Obama’s attention, Brent Spence might not be eligible for that jobs bill money.
“Will funds be available for this bridge? We don’t know at this point,” said a spokesman for Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, whose district is in the area.
Although some press accounts have described Brent Spence as “crumbling,” and the White House says it’s an example of “ur gently needed” repairs, the bridge isn’t falling apart. In fact, it’s designed to last for decades more.
It is, however, “functionally obsolete,” which in this case means it’s too small to handle the daily traffic load. While designed to handle 85,000 cars and trucks, it now carries more than 150,000, leading to regular backups.
So the plan isn’t to do extensive repairs on the bridge, but to build an entirely new one right next to it and keep the old one in use.
The problem is that construction work on the $2.3 billion bridge isn’t scheduled to start for three or four years, according to the project’s official website.
That would appear to put it outside the “immediate” timetable in Obama’s jobs bill, which requires the Transportation secretary to “obligate” all the highway funds “not later than two years after enactment” of the bill.
The bridge failed to get any money from the previous $830 billion stimulus because it wasn’t a “shovel ready” project.