In the wake of the I-5 bridge collapse, the progressive activist group Fuse put together an online petition, urging state legislators to "Fix our crumbling roads and bridges!"
"The shocking bridge collapse in Mount Vernon reinforces the need to fix our state's crumbing infrastructure," the petition reads. "It is critical that you support a transportation package that prioritizes repairing our structurally deficient roads and bridges to keep our families safe and our businesses moving."
Hard to read that as a controversial request, unless, of course, you are state Representative "Angry Ed" Orcutt (R-Kalama), the ranking Republican on the house transportation committee. Via email, Orcutt responds defensively to petitioners, objecting to any effort to "leverage more tax dollars" in response to the Skagit River bridge collapse:
[I]t is clear that the reason for the collapse was due to a collision with the super structure of the bridge — not a lack of structural integrity of the bridge. The bridge would indeed be standing today had the truck's load NOT rammed the super structure of the bridge. In fact, 11 of the 12 sections of the bridge are still standing.
Hear that? Almost 92 percent of the bridge is still standing! So quit your whining.
Yesterday I suggested that when prioritizing transportation spending, we need to look at our transportation infrastructure as whole rather than just focusing on individual structures. But Orcutt takes Olympia's myopia to a new extreme, defiantly pointing to the 11 sections of the bridge left standing as a shining example of a state transportation system well funded.
The problem is, 92 percent of a bridge isn't a bridge. And as a result, an I-5 corridor missing just 8 percent of one span is no longer a corridor.
If Republicans are so allergic to the notion of raising additional revenue that they'll reach to such ridiculous rhetorical extremes in defense of the status quo, then it's hard to see how there is any chance of political compromise coming out of our divided legislature.
[Orcutt's complete email after the jump.]
From: "Orcutt, Rep. Ed"
Date: May 28, 2013, 12:23:47 PM PDT
Subject: RE: Fix our crumbling roads and bridges!
Many people have misunderstood terminology used in the aftermath of the I-5/Skagit River Bridge collapse.
This bridge is deemed functionally obsolete — not structurally deficient. Functionally obsolete basically means that the width of the lanes do not meet current design widths. In other words, if it were to be built today, it would need to be wider.
Since the incident, I have been on a conference call with the Governor (which included WSDOT and WSP officials); two briefing calls with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials; and have met with NTSB officials on the deck of the bridge. From NTSB to WSDOT, it is clear that the reason for the collapse was due to a collision with the super structure of the bridge — not a lack of structural integrity of the bridge. The bridge would indeed be standing today had the truck's load NOT rammed the super structure of the bridge. In fact, 11 of the 12 sections of the bridge are still standing.
It is important to note also, that DOT has specifically stated that if a bridge were deemed unsafe, it would be taken out of service. So, when you approach a bridge and see that it is open, please know that DOT has deemed it safe enough for the traffic using it.
I agree with you that we must maintain our infrastructure to assure it remains safe, but let’s not confuse this incident or try to use it to leverage more tax dollars when the cause of this collapse had nothing to do with the availability of tax dollars.
Representative Ed Orcutt
20th Legislative District
408 John L. O’Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504