Forbes’ roads bill deserves support

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the editor:

Congressman J. Randy Forbes recently introduced legislation, H.R. 2924, “The 414 Plan.” This is a very interesting plan that I believe more citizens should know about.

Many people may remember back in 2007, when the I-35W bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour traffic, killing 13 people and injuring 79 others. This bridge had been inspected and rated as “structurally deficient” but was on a waiting list with over 100,000 other bridges for reconstruction. The estimated waiting time for highway construction projects around the U.S. is more than 13 years.

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Since this was considered an unacceptable and probably preventable disaster, Congress voted to make rebuilding the bridge a top national priority. They voted to make funding available and shortcut the federal regulation process that usually goes along with projects like this. The result was that the replacement bridge was built ahead of schedule and under budget, in just 414 days!

President Obama has proposed another stimulus package to use taxpayer money to rebuild roads and bridges in order to spur the economy. The problem is that he is not dealing with the inefficient use of these funds.

Congressman Forbes is trying to address that problem with this bill. It would basically repeat the process used in Minneapolis to rebuild the I-35W bridge by suspending federal regulations that don’t involve safety or quality of the facilities, workplace or the public.

It also concentrates on giving states and local governments flexibility in using federal funds for these projects and encourages cooperation.

Here in Suffolk, many citizens have been affected by the closure of the Kings Highway Bridge a few years ago and the increasing traffic on the Godwin Bridge over the Nansemond River in Northern Suffolk. As residents of Hampton Roads, we are also affected by the crowded tunnels and the roads around the area that are in disrepair. Since there are so many rivers in our area, these roads are extremely stressed.

I believe we should all support this legislation to increase and more efficiently use federal funds. Especially since so many our citizens are either directly or indirectly connected to the military, we should certainly be considered for federal support.

Trying to raise the funds through tolls or wait for the lengthy process to accomplish these repairs is unreasonable.

I turn 18 soon and will be registering to vote. So far I have been impressed with how Congressman Forbes is trying to help us with his work in Washington. Hopefully, many other Suffolk citizens will agree with me.

Joshua Goodwin
Suffolk