The President landed in Cincinnati this week to sell his “American Jobs Act” using as an example of job creation the need to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects the State of Kentucky with Cincinnati, Ohio—the political home bases for Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney denied the visit was political. House Speaker Boehner agreed that the bridge needs to be repaired and rebuilt, but opposed deficit financing to do it. Sen. McConnell said there are a lot of other bridges that need attention too.
No doubt. But rebuilding this bridge or any other part of America’s aging infrastructure will not be done by American companies or American workers if the ongoing rebuilding of the Oakland Bay Bridge is the precedent. It is Made in China.
The Brent Spence Bridge is a cantilever truss double-deck bridge carrying Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River. Built in 1963, it was designed to carry 85,000 vehicles a day. Current traffic is 155,000 vehicles a day, with projected use topping 200,000 vehicles a day in 2013. Falling concrete from the upper deck to the lower deck closed lanes on the bridge last June.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) calls the bridge “functionally obsolete” and unsafe, one of 15 such bridges in the U.S. It’s a terrible bottleneck and a dangerous drive. The answer is to build a second bridge. In a perfect world, the bridge should be demolished and rebuilt to serve the area’s 21st century needs.
The FHA plan is to do just that. A new $2.3 billion bridge is on the FHA drawing board, but won’t start construction until 2015, with a completion date of 2022. So this bridge project is not “shovel-ready” and does not meet the President’s own requirement that highway spending be “immediate” to create jobs now.
Worse yet, building the bridge will not create “American jobs.”
In 1989, as game three of the World Series (Oakland As vs. San Francisco Giants) was about to start in San Francisco, the Loma Prieta earthquake, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, shook Northern California, killing 63, injuring nearly 4,000, leaving up to 12,000 homeless, and collapsing an eastern-end section of the Oakland Bay Bridge, which connects Oakland and San Francisco.
The Bay Bridge was originally approved by Herbert Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Construction started in 1933 and was completed in 1936 at a total cost of $77 million. It was the longest bridge in the world at that time.
Following the 1989 earthquake, the east span of the bridge (from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland) was deemed unsafe and a new section was designed, with a completion date of 2013 and a cost estimate of $6.3 billion.
Being built by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the bridge project has been extensively outsourced to half a dozen foreign countries, most notably China.
According to Fox News, thousands of Chinese workers spent more than a million man hours over five years in Shanghai fabricating the steel to construct the roadbeds, cable strands, and the landmark tower for the east span’s single-anchor suspension bridge.
The real earthquake here is the State of California, as liberal and union-dominated as any state in the union, outsourcing the steel fabrication for this bridge to save money and get the project done on time.
Caltrans officials publicly defended outsourcing by noting that they saved $400 million in large part because they did not have to pay American union wages and benefits. To get the bridge built on time, the State of California turned to nonunion, nonstriking China to get the job done.
Obama’s first “stimulus” bill failed to stimulate anything beyond public employee unions
Obama’s new American Jobs Act cannot create American jobs because the environmentalists try to block all infrastructure projects (Obama: “We found out the ‘shovel-ready’ projects weren’t so shovel-ready”) and America’s manufacturing companies, which built the 20th century’s engineering marvels, can’t compete today because of Obama’s government bias toward unions and Project Labor Agreements.
Because the environmentalists and the unions are the backbone of Obama’s political coalition, who is the President trying to kid with this phony jobs bill?