Editorial: Boost the bridges
Given today's weather forecast, there's a good chance no one will be gathered this morning at the County State Aid Highway 1 bridge near Brewster.
Then again, given the fact the bridge collapsed last year -- and several other bridges around the region are old and deteriorating -- there will still be a gathering nevertheless.
Rain or shine, an event to raise awareness about needed funding for bridges will take place at 10 a.m. (the inclement-weather site is the Nobles County Government Center). The event is being coordinated by Transportation for America, a coalition of housing, business, environmental, public health, transportation, equitable development and other organizations (http://t4america.org).
Today's event comes in conjunction with the planned release of a new report on the worsening condition of bridges in both Minnesota and South Dakota. This sort of news shouldn't come as a significant surprise, as a Dec. 4, 2010, Daily Globe article described how new weight restrictions were to be posted on 10 Nobles County bridges -- each of them timber bridges.
"Generally, we expect the bridges to last 75 to 80 years, but we're seeing these aren't making that design life," Nobles County Director of Public Works Stephen Schnieder said at the time. "These bridges designed 50 years ago were designed for a different vehicle. As we increase the weight loads for trucks and wagons, the bridges weren't designed for that weight."
There will no doubt be additional Nobles County bridges added to the restricted list if the status quo for funding repairs remains; we imagine similar situations exist in many other rural locales. This infrastructure is critical to these communities' economic well-being, and we ask our representatives in Washington to take notice of that.