To the Editor:
I want to thank Denton Publications for publishing “The Lake Champlain Bridge Commemorative Book.” It brings out the historical importance of a Champlain crossing which dates back to 1776. The book highlights many of the great destinations and businesses that are on the Vermont and New York side of the lake.
The local regional economy has suffered from the bridge being closed and torn down, but now this new bridge may be a destination in itself and should bring many visitors to the area just to walk on the very inviting pedestrian-friendly bridge to take in the beautiful views of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains. Our family has already made a day trip out of walking across the bridge which concluded with a leisure drive back through Vermont and a dinner in Whitehall.
As a civil engineer and past president of the local section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), I have sat through numerous seminars and panel discussions on the effects of our nation’s aging infrastructure.
The problem doesn’t hit home though until it impacts your daily life, for instance, you go to use the faucet to get a drink and no water comes out due to the public water main break, at that moment your life has been impacted by failing infrastructure. Can anyone put a price tag to the 4.2 billion hours that Americans waste sitting in traffic congestion? The American Society of Civil Engineers actually has and it’s $78 billion or $710 per motorist. One third of our roadways are in poor or mediocre condition, which costs motorists $67 billion a year in repairs.
The Champlain Bridge closure has impacted many of us and should remind all of us of one of our nation’s biggest problems and how critical it is for the public to have safe and functioning infrastructure (bridges, roadways, dams and airports). Ultimately, no one was injured or died due to a bridge collapse, but the people that were hurt the most due to the bridge closure were the daily commuters who needed to travel over the bridge for work and the local businesses along that corridor.
ASCE has issued a 2009 National Infrastructure Report Card to provide information on why it is critical that our country re-invests in its infrastructure. It rates various categories of infrastructure such as bridges, dams, aviation, roads, transit, schools, levees, etc. The overall grade for the report cad was a “D” and the estimated 5-year investment that our nation would need to fix the infrastructure comes with a $2.2 trillion price tag. (www.asce.org/reportcard)
Our nation’s infrastructure could use more attention like what Denton Publications has provided with “The Lake Champlain Bridge Commemorative Book.” It brings out a heightened awareness to infrastructure and shows how important the Champlain Bridge is to our community.
Once again on behalf of the civil engineering community, I would like to thank you for the much needed publicity. Not to mention it is a great collector’s item and Christmas gift.
Anthony W. DeFranco, PE, M.ASCE
Past President-ASCE Mohawk-Hudson Section