Structure for discrimination against bridges upheld by state
The problem is shameful, and addressing it could save Pennsylvania billions of dollars.
So why isn't anyone doing something to combat bridge discrimination?
The question is particularly vexing here in the Keystone State, which has more than 25,000 state-owned bridges — the third-highest total in the nation. Perhaps it's because they are stationary and can't make it to meetings to discuss forming an advocacy group.
They could use one, though. Bridges need someone to champion their cause, especially after the discriminatory din against them hit its zenith recently in the General Assembly's chambers.
Legislators debated a measure that would have provided at least $2.5 billion annually to combat a so-called infrastructure crisis. According to lawmakers and their deleterious allies at PennDOT, the crisis' primary culprit was — you guessed it — bridges.
The spans could be forgiven if they busted a few rivets in anger. The prejudicial pejoratives hurled their way were despicable:
• Without any compunction, lawmakers criticized the bridges as being too old, because more than half are over age 50.
• They humiliated the bridges for poor physical shape, noting that many are subject to weight restrictions.
• They used a deplorable term that I am repeating here not for sensationalistic purposes or shock value, but to underscore the depth of the discrimination. Particularly sensitive readers might want to skip this sentence: Lawmakers noted that Pennsylvania has the highest number of bridges that are “structurally deficient.”
I long for day when epithets like that no longer are used. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go as a society before that occurs.
Can you imagine anyone making the same insulting observations about older people? Can you imagine hearing:
• “We can't keep putting off the problems with Sylvia. She's over 50 years old, showing obvious signs of deterioration, and we're not sure how much longer she'll be able to remain standing.”
• “Look at Phil, huffing and puffing going up the stairs. He really needs to start watching all the weight he's carrying around on his frame.”
• “You say you need a knee replacement soon or you might come crashing down at some point? Goodness, Mrs. Johnson, you're structurally deficient.”
Any legislator foolish enough to speak so callously to a senior citizen would justifiably incur the wrath of the AARP. The same standards should exist for our bridges.
If we treated them with courtesy and compassion, rather than scorn and derision, think what might happen. If the discriminatory labels vanish — voila! — so does the infrastructure crisis.
We need billions of dollars to fix bridges that are “structurally upright.” We need to spend far less on those that are more kindly labeled “functionally upright.”
Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Navigating how to pay for college a challenge as costs continue to rise and aid varies
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- White House intrusions reveal problems with security, Secret Service
- Hospitals turning to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
- Penn State rolls past Massachusetts
- Worth of nickel rising in NFL
- Springdale boys collect win in double overtime
- London must keep promises to Scotland, former Prime Minister Brown says
- Brownsville restaurant opens in historic home, pays homage to ‘Gone With the Wind’ plantation
- Penn State notebook: LG Dowrey gets chance to start on struggling O-line
- High school notebook: Kiski Area tabs Jones as softball coach