Trouble in river city

August 16, 2007 by barbara

barbara writes

Welcome to The all bridge, all the time site. What can I say? It's pretty consuming if you live in MN.

Rapid transit has taken on a whole new meaning this month in Minnesota. Even as vehicles and bodies and bridge debris are still being pulled from the Mississippi River, there is a fast-forward plan for building a new bridge. There’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on about the pace and the design, and as you’ve already read here, questions about how much of this is political rather than societal.

There’s so much flap about all of this that the New York Times picked it up for a feature article today. Always interesting to read how others perceive us.

The Times tells us that the U of M’s Lawrence Jacobs proclaims, “There’s a deep sense of loss for people all over Minnesota. And for them, to see kind of this new—and old—politics flare up like this is unseemly.” That’s a word from my long-ago childhood. I remember my grandmother talking about people in her little North Dakota town behaving in an “unseemly” manner. If Gramma said it was so, then it was so, amen, end of sermon. It will not surprise you, therefore, to know that I shivered a shamed little shiver at Mr. Jacobs’ words. By his definition, I, too, am being unseemly, because I'm asking questions. Read some more.

The principal issue here seems to be the warp speed “progress” of the bridge design and proposed implementation. The unseemly ones have suggested that Gov Tim Pawlenty is in a hurry because this doesn’t look good for him on the national stage. With Big Political Ambitions, he is almost certainly pressing for getting his personal Rubicon bridged in a hurry. He has called that assertion “nonsense.” He has called the asserters “silly.” He says the talk of disagreement is “overblown.”

Now to be fair (Minnesotans traditionally steep in civility stew), Gov Tim is wedged between the river banks. I-35W is a major thoroughfare in the Twin Cities. And because Minneapolis is not only the City of Lakes but also the city of rivers, there is almost no way to get from point A to point B without crossing water. So no question that the loss of that particular bridge is a commuting nightmare. Has been, is, ever more shall be. From a practical standpoint of moving people and goods and services, it’s very important to get a new bridge erected.

But as has been noted here, we have a rare opportunity, precipitated by tragedy, to do the seemly thing. Build it well. Build it safe. Build it smart.

That’s the position of Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak. After an initial period of détente, Rybak (a Democrat) and Gov Tim (a Bush Republican) find themselves toe-to-toe about the nature and speed of re-bridging the Mississippi. “There’s a significant problem in not having a bridge, but there will be a more significant problem if we . . . put up a bridge without asking the right questions (and) we will be regretting this decision for decades,” Rybak says.

One of Rybak's issues is light rail potential for the bridge. The Times says Rybak is pressing for enough reinforcement to accommodate the possibility of a light rail line someday, emphasis mine. In the beginning, we were told that federal financing would not allow for that unseemly “addition.” As with so many governmental decisions, there seems to be an unwillingness to look ahead at long-term consequences. George’s war in Iraq comes quickly to mind, but I digress.

Is integrating light rail into this bridge the best option? Structurally and financially? I don't know. But I'd sure like to see facts and figures.

Another issue is a belief that there should be a memorial, on or near the new bridge.

Would it be unseemly to say that the lasting legacy of those who died, who were injured or who had the scare of their lives, and all the rescuers is that they cast a humongous light on the unseen side of transportation infrastructure? Nationwide. They lit a fire under the complacent butts of our decision-makers. So, yes, a memorial. That seems like a no-brainer, and certainly not a deal-breaker.

Given the infrastructure problems that have been cited nationwide over the past few weeks, does it not seem that the Feds and states need to explore bold, new ways of working together? I’m not savvy enough about the process to offer a specific suggestion(s). You all know more about that than I do.

Something there is that says it’s time to get off the dime (yes, Gov Tim, your no-new-taxes pledge stinketh mightily) and get to work. Because if we continue to deal with all of this retroactively, there will continue to be iffy bridges and thousands of miles of bad road to travel.

You know that vision thing? Let's get us some.

Posted in


perhansa (not verified) | August 16, 2007 - 6:53pm

Perhaps we're asking the impossible Barb.

VIsion requires the ability to think FORWARD, to think in "DEEP TIME" (or at the very least beyond next week), to think CHANGE, to think "BIG PICTURE," to IMAGINE what hasn't already been, to be, in other words, "progressive". Isn't that what the "progressive" party is suppose to be about? Hmmm? Imagine there's no bridges, no footpaths too, just water below us, above us only sky...I don't think they like John Lennon either.

Conservativism is about tighening down the hatches, sticking to what's worked before, minimizing change, shoring up the status quo, ramming that broom stick up the ***, holding fast, being REPSONSIBLE and PRACTICAL and EFFICIENT with the PEOPLE'S MONEY. Reagan was about as close to vision as any recent Republican with his promise of "morning in America" except it was no more than a bad hangover for most people. His ability to act and to dramatize made him seem "visionary" after Carter and Iran and the hostage situation and long waits in gas station lines, etc. All he endeavored to do was turn back the clock.

Perhaps asking for vision from a Republican is like trying to get milk from a steer. I haven't seen anything yet that would tell me Pawlenty has had a "vision" since sugar plums danced through his head. I don't know a single artist friend who is a conservative. It's like maple syrup and tabasco, they don't mix. I've known a lot of creative, forward thinking people and very very few of them are conservatives. Everyone I know who is in the "conservative camp" fits the name to a tee. They live on nostalgia. The past was always better than the future. Everything today is f***ed up, but yesteryear, whoa, glory days, yea they pass you by, glory days.

Gays will be getting married in this country someday soon. A woman will be president (within the next 18 months). Kids growing up on technology are going to find ways to leverage it to change the world. The next generation isn't going to be as likely to suck up into the rat race. Young people are much more open and tolerant and travel far more than in the past and my experience has been the more you travel the more tolerant and the less idealistic you are...that bodes well for the future. Bush's gov't is starting to unravel at the seams...he'll get his due. And his little dog, Rove, too. It's melting, melting...

You guessed, I've been drinking...


barbara aka babs (not verified) | August 16, 2007 - 8:27pm

So here I sit, half-filled (or is it half-empty) wine glass on my big, round desk coaster that says "01.20.09 -- Bush's Last Day." Drink away, Perhansa.

You know, most of the creatives I know are Dems, too. Now I'm not saying there are no creative Reps. I just don't know where they might be. And the most reprehensible members of the species Republicus Allaboutus in-breed.

Word out today is that Jenna Bush is set to marry Henry Hager, a wealthy dude who interned for Karl Rove. A match made in heaven, no doubt.

You're right about the nostalgia thread running through the conservative ranks and message. Which is why Newtie is trying so hard to reinvent himself, I guess. To establish some distance from the stodgy, clubby ways of thinking and doing things. Okay. Lipstick on a pig. But you have to give him credit for seeing how others see the Reps.

Another thing. I have been musing all day about Rove's Big Taunt that the people criticizing Bush are “sort of elite, effete snobs who can’t hold a candle to this guy. What they don’t like about him is that he is common sense, that he is Middle America.” (That from Think Progress.) Okay. I'm laughing now. Fill in the blank: George Bush is to Middle America as _____ is to _____. Oh, yeah, baby.

Okay. I'm totally off-topic here, and it's my topic. Jeez Louise!

The vision thing. Thinking . . . . .

Hey, Perhansa. I think you're right. What's called for here is more wine. (sigh)


susan | August 16, 2007 - 9:46pm

It's been that kind of a week. I had so much wine last night that my head couldn't make my legs get out of bed this a.m. Once they were convinced that it was doable, and swung themselves over the side, the rest of my body followed, but not my head. Floated around all day in a torpor, couldn't even get interested in Jenna's engagement news.
But I'm coming around now and just saw Bill Moyer's comments on Rove. Check it out at Bill Moyers Journal.
Turns out he who mobilized evangelical Christians to become evangelical Bush supporters doesn't exactly share their faith.

Here's his closing. (But read the whole thing.)

"Rove himself is deeply enmeshed in some of the scandals being investigated as we speak, including those missing emails that could tell us who turned the attorney general of the United States into a partisan sockpuppet.
Rove is riding out of Dodge city as the posse rides in. At his press conference this week he asked God to bless the president and the country, even as reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism; he wished he could believe, but he cannot. That kind of intellectual honesty is to be admired, but you have to wonder how all those folks on the Christian right must feel discovering they were used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator. On his last play of the game all Karl Rove had to offer them was a hail mary pass, while telling himself there’s no one there to catch it."


perhansa (not verified) | August 16, 2007 - 9:48pm

Fill in the blank: George Bush is to Middle America as _____ is to _____.

" a fart in silk panties."
" a Mini-Cooper at a Monster Truck Rally."
" an seamstress in a nudist colony."

Bartender, poor me another...

Tyme sur duz flie win yer havin sum rum, er, cint fuul me thrice. Dubl yer pleazur dubl yur fum wif W, W, W dumb...

Bet they wurn't bee gibben us non ob a hurd tyme abut r fancifall rigthin no mur...