When the Senate passed a bill to reopen the government last month there was a hidden pork barrel project buried in it, to the tune of $3 billion. The Olmsted Lock and Dam, located on the Ohio River in Western Kentucky, has been under construction since 1988. While that area of a major economic waterway is still passable, one of the biggest economic lifelines in this part of the country isn’t fairing so well.
In 2012, President Obama appeared in Cincinnati at the Brent Spence bridge. In his speech he talked about the need to for the government to fund projects to replace important parts of our infrastructure, like the Brent Spence. The bridge connects Kentucky to Ohio on interstates 71 and 75. Interstate 75 is also one of the key economic north-south corridors in this country, connecting southern Florida to Canada, transporting billions in commerce annually.The President’s push was met with objection from McConnell and John Boehner, who represents a district heavily reliant on the bridge.
The Brent Spence is one of the top 10 “functionally obsolete” bridges in the country. The bridge can not handle the traffic numbers it was designed for in 1963. That has resulted in a huge increase in accidents, as you can see from this graphic:
Even the most minor of accidents can stall traffic for hours along I-71/75.
The estimated cost to replace the bridge is $2.5 billion, about $500 million less than the Olmsted Dam and Locks. The importance of the bridge is well known in this area and the math is simple – a project much more needed that costs less. Yet McConnell is ignoring that and it has even people in his own party fuming:
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said he heard from many of his constituents in Kenton County who were angry at the deal wanting to know why the locks received help. He pointed out the project only authorized the Corps Of Engineers to spend more money but didn’t allocate more money.
McDaniel, like all Northern Kentucky lawmakers, opposes tolls as a means for the Brent Spence Bridge and wants to see the federal government pick up the tab.
“It (the locks) didn’t get any more money, but it certainly seems to be creating a lot of angst,” McDaniel said. “I think it gets to the complexity of the federal budget process. The Brent Spence is a federal project. I wish we would see the federal government take the bull by the horns”
And even Tea Party people are upset over this:
“The whole thing is a joke,” said Garth Kuhnhein, a tea party activist from Fort Mitchell who’s leading opposition to tolls on the Brent Spence. “It just shows the problem with McConnell and the way funding goes … you’re hearing people talk about it. It made national news.”
While nationally people may not view the bridge as being that important, we that have it in our daily lives realize that this bridge is vital to our lives as well as a key player in our nation’s economy. To call it anything less is nothing but pure political hogwash. I also believe that McConnell and Boehner both realize this, but they are of a mindset that politics trumps economy, as well as lives. That’s why we need to get elected officials who will put country, economy and life above party – something many in the GOP are incapable of today.
Hopefully the local media will keep the heat on McConnell over this through next year, then we can see one of the most dangerous politicians to our country removed from office once and for all. McConnell doesn’t give a dam about you or me. His only concern is winning elections, something he has proudly admitted in the past.