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David Stockman Ruins The Perennial Myth Of Crumbling Infrastructure

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

Whenever the beltway bandits run low on excuses to run-up the national debt they trot out florid tales of crumbling infrastructure—that is, dilapidated roads, collapsing bridges, failing water and sewer systems, inadequate rail and public transit and the rest. This is variously alleged to represent a national disgrace, an impediment to economic growth and a sensible opportunity for fiscal “stimulus”.

But most especially it presents a  swell opportunity for Washington to create millions of “jobs”.  And, according to the Obama Administration’s latest incarnation of this age old canard, it can be done in a fiscally responsible manner through the issuance of “green ink” bonds by a national infrastructure bank, not “red ink” bonds by the US Treasury. The implication, of course, is that borrowings incurred to repair the nation’s allegedly “collapsing” infrastructure would be a form of “self-liquidating” debt. That is, these “infrastructure” projects would eventually pay for themselves in the form of enhanced national economic growth and efficiency.

Except that the evidence for dilapidated infrastructure is just bogus beltway propaganda cynically peddled by the construction and builder lobbies. Moreover, the infrastructure that actually does qualify for self-liquidating investment is overwhelmingly local in nature—-urban highways, metropolitan water and sewer systems, airports. These should be funded by users fees and levies on local taxpayers—not financed with Washington issued bonds and pork-barreled through its wasteful labyrinth of earmarks and plunder.

Nowhere is the stark distinction between the crumbling infrastructure myth and the factual reality more evident than in the case of the so-called deficient and obsolete bridges. To hear the K-Street lobbies tell it—-motorist all across American are at risk for plunging into the drink at any time owing to defective bridges.

Even Ronald Reagan fell for that one. During the long trauma of the 1981-1982 recession the Reagan Administration had stoutly resisted the temptation to implement a Keynesian style fiscal stimulus and jobs program–notwithstanding an unemployment rate that peaked in double digits. But within just a few months of the bottom, along came a Republican Secretary of Transportation, Drew Lewis, with a Presidential briefing on the alleged disrepair of the nation’s highways and bridges. The briefing was accompanied by a Cabinet Room full of easels bearing pictures of dilapidated bridges and roads and a plan to dramatically increase highway spending and the gas tax.

Not surprisingly, DOT Secretary Drew Lewis was a former governor and the top GOP fundraiser of the era. So the Cabinet Room was soon figuratively surrounded by a muscular coalition of road builders, construction machinery suppliers, asphalt and concrete vendors, governors, mayors and legislators and the AFL-CIO building trades department. And if that wasn’t enough, Lewis had also made deals to line up the highway safety and beautification lobby, bicycle enthusiasts and all the motley array of mass transit interest groups.

They were all singing from the same crumbling infrastructure playbook. As Lewis summarized, “We have highways and bridges that are falling down around our ears—that’s really the thrust of the program.”

The Gipper soon joined the crowd. “No, we are opposed to wasteful borrow and spend”, he recalled,”that’s how we got into this mess. But these projects are different. Roads and bridges are a proper responsibility of government, and they have already been paid for by the gas tax”.

By the time a pork-laden highway bill was rammed through a lame duck session of Congress in December 1982, Reagan too had bought on to the crumbling infrastructure gambit. Explaining why he signed the bill, the scourge of Big Government noted, “We have 23,000 bridges in need of replacement or rehabilitation; 40 percent of our bridges are over 40 years old.”

Still, this massive infrastructure spending bill that busted a budget already bleeding $200 billion of red ink was not to be confused with a capitulation to Keynesian fiscal stimulus. Instead, as President Reagan explained to the press when asked whether it was a tax bill, jobs bill or anti-recession stimulus, it was just an exercise in prudent governance: “There will be some employment with it, but its not a jobs bill as such. It is a necessity…..(based) on the user fee principle–those who benefit from a use should share its cost”.

Needless to say, none of that was remotely true. Twenty percent of the nickel/gallon gas tax increase went to mass transit, thereby breeching the “user fee” principle at the get-go, and paving the way for endless diversion of gas taxes to non-highway uses. Indeed, today an estimated 40% of highway trust fund revenues go to mass transit, bicycle paths and sundry other earmarks and diversions.

More importantly, less than one-third of the $30 billion authorized by the 1982 bill went to the Interstate Highway System—the ostensible user fee based national infrastructure investment. All the rest went to what are inherently local/regional projects—-state highways, primary and secondary roads, buses, and mass transit facilities.

And this is where the tale of Madison County bridges to nowhere comes in; and also where the principle that local users and taxpayers should fund local infrastructure could not be more strikingly illustrated.

It seems that after 32 years and tens of billions of Federal funding that the nations bridges are still crumbling and in grave disrepair. In fact, according to DOT and the industry lobbies there are 63,000 bridges across the nation that are “structurally deficient”, suggesting that millions of motorists are at risk for a perilous dive into the drink.

But here’s the thing. Roughly one-third or 20,000 of these purportedly hazardous bridges are located in six rural states in America’s mid-section: Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The fact that these states account for only 5.9% of the nation’s population seems more than a little incongruous but that isn’t even half the puzzle. It seems that these thinly populated country provinces have a grand total of 118,000 bridges. That is, one bridge for every 160 citizens—men, women and children included.

And the biggest bridge state among them is, well, yes, Iowa. The state has 3 million souls and nearly 25,000 bridges–one for every 125 people. So suddenly the picture is crystal clear. These are not the kind of bridges that thousands of cars and heavy duty trucks pass over each day. No, they are mainly the kind Clint Eastwood needed a local farm-wife to locate—so he could take pictures for a National Geographic spread on covered bridges.

Stated differently, the overwhelming bulk of the 600,000 so-called “bridges” in America are so little used that the are more often crossed by dogs, cows, cats and tractors than they are by passenger motorists.  They are essentially no different than local playgrounds and municipal parks. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce, GDP growth or national public infrastructure.

If they are structurally “deficient” as measured by engineering standards that is not exactly a mystery to the host village, township and county governments which choose not to upgrade them. So if Iowa is content to live with 5,000 bridges—one in five of its 25,000 bridges— that are deemed structurally deficient by DOT, why is this a national crisis? Self-evidently, the electorate and officialdom of Iowa do not consider these bridges to be a public safety hazard or something would have been done long ago.

The evidence for that is in another startling “fun fact” about the nation’s bridges.  Compared to the 19,000 so-called “structurally deficient” bridges in the six rural states reviewed here, there are also 19,000 such deficient bridges in another group of 35 states–including Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts,  Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Wisconsin, among others. But these states have a combined population of 175 million not 19 million as in the six rural states; and more than 600 citizens per bridge, not 125 as in Iowa.

Moreover, only 7% of the bridges in these 35 states are considered to be structurally deficient rather than 21% as in Iowa. So the long and short of it is self-evident: Iowa still has a lot of one-horse bridges and Massachusetts— with 1,300 citizens per “bridge”— does not. None of this is remotely relevant to a national infrastructure crisis today—any more than it was in 1982 when even Ronald Reagan fell for “23,000 bridges in need of replacement or rehabilitation”.

Yes, the few thousands of bridges actually used heavily in commerce and passenger transportation in American do fall into disrepair and need  periodic reinvestment. But the proof that even this is an overwhelmingly state and local problem is evident in another list maintained by the DOT.

That list would be a rank ordering called “The Most Travelled Structurally Deficient Bridges, 2013″. These are the opposite of the covered bridges of Madison County, but even here there is a  cautionary tale. It seems that of the 100 most heavily traveled bridges in the US by rank order, and which are in need of serious repair, 80% of them are in California!

Moreover, they are overwhelmingly state highway and municipal road and street bridges located in Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Stated differently, Governor Moonbeam has not miraculously solved California endemic fiscal crisis; he’s just neglected the local infrastructure. There is no obvious reasons why taxpayers in Indiana or North Carolina needed to be fixing California’s bridges— so that it can continue to finance its outrageously costly public employee pension system.

And so it goes with the rest of the so-called infrastructure slate. There is almost nothing there that is truly national in scope and little that is in a state of crumbling and crisis.

Indeed, the one national asset—the Interstate Highway System—is generally in such good shape that most of the “shovel ready” projects on it during the Obama stimulus turned out to be resurfacing projects that were not yet needed and would have been done in the ordinary course anyway, and the construction of new over-passes for lightly traveled country roads that have happily been dead-ends for decades.

One thing is clear. The is no case for adding to our staggering $17 trillion national debt in order to replace the bridges of Madison county; or to fix state and local highways or build white elephant high speed rail systems; or to relieve air travelers of paying user fees to upgrade local airports or local taxpayers of their obligation to pay fees and taxes to maintain their water and sewer systems.

At the end of the day, the ballyhooed national infrastructure crisis is a beltway racket of the first order. It has been for decades.

Here is the bridge data in all its splendid detail!


The following table shows the ranking of states according to number of deficient bridges (left hand side) and percentage of bridges defective (right hand side):

Click to enlarge

State Bridge Rankings from artba

The nation’s 250 most heavily traveled bridges in need of repair are ranked in the following table:

Click to enlarge


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Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:02 | 4708394 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Big-Road,  not quite the scam Big-MIC is, but the males of both Teams loving playing with the Big-Road toys.   

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:09 | 4708437 lordylord
lordylord's picture

NJ taxes are sky high and after this winter, the roads are HORRIBLE.  Never in my life have I seen roads this bad.  There are LITERALLY holes big enough to lose your car in.  Still, liberals cry, "Who will build the roads?"  More like, "Who will neglect the roads?"

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:13 | 4708452 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

Government building road is an integral part of a wildlife's habitat.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:20 | 4708503 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Yeah, I call bullshit.  The problem is the federal government sucking local money out of the cities with the crumbling infrastructure through taxation, which usurps the power of local planning (can't do shit without the funding) and makes in centrally controlled through congressional funding (earmarks).  The perfect communist state.

I am Chumbawamba.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:26 | 4708523 Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

I don't know what this guys sees, but the roads are falling apart in my part of the country.

If the United States would stop spending money on going to war in Ukraine, and bailing out the bullshit satellite states, we would have plenty of money to rebuild the infrastructure.  And yes, that might create some jobs along the way, which would be OK with me, because at least I get something from the spending -- better roads, etc. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:36 | 4708589 max2205
max2205's picture

If I hear it's for the children. ....I will scream

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:55 | 4708692 Vampyroteuthis ...
Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Just because you send money to these locations, does not necessarily mean it gets spent in an efficient manner on roads or roads at all. If we were spending money and actually getting cost effective roads, good. I have a feeling most of the money is not being used for actual roads. It is being wasted on cronies lining their pockets.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:17 | 4708753 Fortunate Fool
Fortunate Fool's picture

To see how bad infrastructures are in the US, one only has to travel in Europe, or China, or even part of the middle east and southeast asia to realize how far behind the US has fallen...


It's interesting to see that to illustrate his argument, the author of this article is taking one of the asset classes (Bridges) that is actually performing better. To see the details about how infrastructure are doing, just following the link below and see for yourself the disaster.


The thing about state of infrastructure reports like this one is that, it can be easily auditable, so I guess it's harder to BS it as much as you would do with a balance sheet...

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:27 | 4708838 sodbuster
sodbuster's picture

I live in Iowa. Bridges are expensive to build and maintain. Our county is pulling them out and replacing them with huge culverts. An old RR tanker car with the ends cut off does a pretty good job. Weld 2 together for length- way too cheap and simple for the feds.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:44 | 4709118 Big Corked Boots
Big Corked Boots's picture

Excellent. Another solution is to get old flatbed RR cars and use them as bridges - farms and ranches are popular reuses. There used to be thousands of these cars around when piggyback trailers went from 40' to 48' and now 53' long.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:15 | 4709017 Luapnor
Luapnor's picture

You clearly havent been to China...

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:42 | 4709107 Fortunate Fool
Fortunate Fool's picture

Unlike you, I guess, I have, which is why I made that comment... But you know, you can still continue to think that the US have the bestest infrastructure on earth. Those who travel know otherwise.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:14 | 4708785 sleigher
sleigher's picture

If they built the roads properly in the first place we wouldn't have as many issues.  Saw an article once where they compared Autobahn construction to US interstate construction.  The Autobahn had like 12 (I think) inches of concrete as the foundation of the roadway.  In the US it is 4 (6?) inches I think.  I wish I could find that site again.  The excuse being it is cheaper in the US to build that way.  Obviously long term it is far more expensive.  Not only in road repair but also in vehicle wear and tear.  I don't remember the exact figures but the roads over there were built much stronger and they had only a fraction of the repairs that we have here.  Whatever, this is pointless.  We all know the Germans are perfect in every way.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:23 | 4709030 GooseShtepping Moron
GooseShtepping Moron's picture

Some sections of the Autobahn actually have a full 24" concrete base. The Autobahn was engineered to a much higher standard than American roadways in order to support the high speeds and and high performance vehicles. It's a whole different ballgame at 150 mph. The road can have absolutely no cracks or bumps, for if you hit a crack at that speed even a well built car can shake itself to pieces. If I recall correctly, grades are limited to 0.5 degrees, for anything steeper than that would act like a ramp. Turning radii, too, must be extremely gentle.

Obviously not every location is even suitable for an Autobahn-type road, and the very concept of one presumes a competent driving public and a ready supply of engineering talent and public funds. The Autobahn is constantly being repaired. Constantly. That is the only way to maintain the engineering standards it requires, which kind of belies David Stockman's point.

I like most of Stockman's recent offerings, but I'm not exactly on board with him on this one.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:35 | 4709311 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

o ntractors elsewhere are responsible for a road for the FULL LIFE of it - there's no incentive to cheart on construction since they have to come back and make good any failures before the end of its contracted life.  Here in the US a road repaving gets signed off on and paid in full with the responsibility of the contractor ended and over no matter how bad a job they did.  I recall one of the mobbed up major local contractors bragging about how he made a fortune only putting down half the specified thoickness of asphalt on a lopcal highway repaving.  The inspectors were likely bribed to approve at a nominal cost and the contractor made millions while the road fell apart after a couple years.

How hard would it be to actually hold contractors responsible for the QUALITY OF THEIR WORK?  Specify an expected life for initial construction or repaving and make the contractor responsible fo rmaintaining or repairing any shortfalls.  Cheaper to do a good job than come back - and have them post a bond to cover potential costs in case they go bankrupt.   Was always astounded at how much even minor work - like an interchange redo - cost.  MILLIONS and MILLIONS - with only a handful of companies bidding.  If that's the case they can afford to do it right and make it last.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:55 | 4709393 CunnyFunt
CunnyFunt's picture

Ffs, just a single sign structure costs millions and millions.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:45 | 4708647 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

I'm seeing GREAT roads and lots of new construction way out in the boonies - pork run rampant in rural areas.  We see it regularly when traveling.  On college visits we saw lots of new construction - big multi lanne roads in places where cows outnumber people.  Was camping this weekend and saw plenty of work way up in the Catskills (on the way to the Raceway and casino) and one of the two lane oroads we used  has been completely redone - new surface and widened shoulders.

BUT here in the NYC burbs where roads are heavily uses things ARE falling apart.  The Palisades Parkway was so bad this winter that it was literally destroying cars - more than a few major accidents with totaled cars because of HUGE potholes.  The same is true all over the regiopn with soem bridges in horrid shape.  The Tappan Zee replacement is finally under construction DECADES after the original 'expired' - was stuck on the bridge in traffic the other day and it was NOT a reassuring experience.  I suppose I should be happy that they fixed the holes THROUGH the road bed where you could see the river.  Local streets in affluent parts of Westchester are also falling apart with reduced state aid and property tax caps.  I got fed up and actually filled a bunch of potholes outside my driveway - was tired of the wear and tear on my car's suspension.   Most communities are years behind on a road replacement cycle.

But then as long as the wealthy can take their helicopters into Manhattan from Greenwich and South Salem, why should they care about roads?

Spending on infrastructure has little to do with actual NEED and everything to do with politics.   Saw a brochure for 'Steamtown' in Scranton (a porkfest if there ever was one) among the others when stopped to get gas proving my point.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:48 | 4708663 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Might I suggest that you import and elect Mitch McConnell?
It think KY is done with his ass, all pork aside.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:48 | 4708664 Vashta Nerada
Vashta Nerada's picture

I am convinced that politicians push infrastructure not for 'bringing home the bacon', but for personal gain.  They are literally taking kickbacks from the developers in return for the projects.  Ever wonder how so many people became wealthy AFTER going to congress?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:26 | 4708524 SamAdams
SamAdams's picture

and using tax dollars to buy military assets which are then destroyed in a foreign country...  Poor return on tax dollar investment.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:34 | 4708575 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Yeah, they don't use tax dollars for that.  That's a myth.  Did you notice when they needed $18 trillion for the banksters they somehow "found" it (i.e. conjured it up from nothing) at a moment's notice?

There is no shortage of money, just intelligence amongst the American people.  Taxes are simply a way to manage the purchasing power of the plebes, that's all.  The PTB use taxation to manage the workforce and create a proper balance conducive to the profitability of the corporations that sponsor the politicians.

There is nothing new under the Sun.

I am Chumbawamba.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:10 | 4708771 Ying-Yang
Ying-Yang's picture

So correct Chumba...

Taxes are control. Don't pay go to jail, if you're a plebe

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 22:10 | 4710502 SamAdams
SamAdams's picture

Education or action, you draw the line where?  I'm on the right side.,.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:55 | 4708694 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

I agree with you, but here in Michigan the state government has been diverting gas tax revenues to the General Fund.

Now they (Repubs) are calling for increases for road repairs.

Aside: wasn't America founded with the concept of private roads?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:02 | 4708731 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

That and the common ways belong to the people.

I am Chumbawamba.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:16 | 4708467 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Last night on the news, they said we need to spend $75 billion over the next 15 years to repair roads and bridges. It's a lot of money, but the Fed craps out that much every month. How much do we send overseas to other nations?

The government's list of priorities is about 50 different kinds of fucked up.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:20 | 4708499 duo
duo's picture

It's interesting how many of those bridges are in CA and IL.  You'd think that the LA climate would be easy on steel and concrete, or was it the earthquakes?

Pre-stressed concrete doesn't like earthquakes.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:36 | 4708593 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

It's a matter of cutting corners and shitty engineering.  The bridge that the Chinese are building to replace the eastern span of the Oakland-Bay Bridge has been delayed because they used some shitty bolts in one part that were sheering off.  I give that bridge five years before it falls into the fucking bay.

I am Chumbawamba.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:42 | 4708626 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Sorta like this?

The upside is that maybe Oakland will get a pre collapse visit from the Mothman, which is kinda fun, right?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:33 | 4709075 Confused
Confused's picture

Wait.....wait.......the Chinese are now building bridges in the US? What the fuck? The US is truly fucked. What won't be outsourced?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:01 | 4709415 CunnyFunt
CunnyFunt's picture

U.S. bridge fab has been sent overseas for a while now. Not only China, but Spain, Korea, Brazil and Canada get in on the act as well. Some municipalities and authorities require domestic steel and fabrication, but most don't.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:25 | 4709253 PacOps
PacOps's picture

The bridge was completed on Sept. 2, 2013 after the delays.

I share your concerns.



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:32 | 4708529 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Check this out.
Went to visit my parents in Louisville, KY yesterday. They have been trying to get the bridge situation between KY and So. Indiana worked out for years. They finally "settled" on two fucking bridges!
It gets better.
One bridge is downtown, and makes sense. The second is in the northern old money burb of Propect, KY. It basically connects nowhere to nowhere, which is par. Well, the wealthy Prospect folks didn't want the bridge or the So. Indiana Hoosier riffraff that will cross it, so they designated the land where the bridge would start as "Historic". So, what's the solution? Blasting two fucking tunnels under the "Historic" land. I shit thee not. Major cost...and the fucking thing will probably leak like a screen door.
Amazing stuff.

Edit: thank Mitch for this hillbilly version of the Boston Dig....

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:59 | 4708712 Ray Donovan
Ray Donovan's picture

I live in Louisville and both those bridges are WAY overdue.  The east end bridge will cut down on I71 traffic into downtown considerablely.  Now I totally agree on the tunnell thing, absolutely ridiculous.  All the old money fought and fought the bridges for years.

I was up in Chicago about a month ago and whoah, it was like a third world country up there.  Worst roads I've seen in my life. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:31 | 4708852 InflammatoryResponse
InflammatoryResponse's picture

Amen fellow Louisvillian.  that tunnel thing is totally absurd.


the east end bridge is going to help a lot.  shoulda only built that one to be sure



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:46 | 4708893 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

You're a buncha pikers, all of you.

In PA, near Philly there is an interstate highway spur/connector referred to as the "Blue Route" becuase it's path ran through a lot of old "blue blood" neighborhoods.  

It was finished about 15 years ago at this point.  The legal battle over putting that road in started shortly after WWII (yes, in the 1940s).  The person who original proposed putting a road along this route was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

I shit you not.

The day after it opened, it had it's first traffic jam.  And it hasn't gotten any better since then.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | 4708509 schooltruth
schooltruth's picture

I'll second NJ roads as being horrible this year.  However, 51st in NY may be the worst road in a major city in the Northeast.  I felt like I was offroading in Moab, UT.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:26 | 4708528 kito
kito's picture

@lordy--agreed, as are the roads in neighboring nyc (sans the touristy parts of manhattan). stockman misses the point here. roads and bridges are falling apart. and it isnt the responsibility of the federal government. but the states and municipalities are BROKE. they dont have the funds to fix it because they are too busy pouring money into public union obligations. new jersey is a perfect example. ranked dead last in fiscal health in the u.s.  the roads and bridges should be getting repaired, but arent because the state is up to its ears in pension obligations. its a sign of the times. more and more money going to prop up the people as opposed to the underlying infrastructure that helps improve commerce. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:36 | 4708585 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

"LePatner, who is the author of a book called Too Big to Fall and who routinely offers dire warnings about the condition of America’s vital infrastructure, considers the Tappan Zee his “scary of scaries.” Yet even he was taken aback when, after the speech, a state official sidled up and implied that things were worse, even, than LePatner imagined. The man asked LePatner how often he crosses the bridge. Maybe twice a year, LePatner told him, to go antiquing in Nyack. “That’s enough,” the official replied."

"For the record, the New York State Thruway Authority, which controls the Tappan Zee, insists the bridge is in no immediate danger of falling down. But the 140,000 or so people who travel daily across the seven-lane span, which was built to handle a fraction of that traffic load, can be forgiven for having their doubts. The Tappan Zee routinely sheds chunks of concrete, like so much dandruff, into the river below. Engineering assessments have found that everything from steel corrosion to earthquakes to maritime accidents could cause major, perhaps catastrophic, damage to the span. Last July, one of Governor Cuomo’s top aides referred to the Tappan Zee as the “hold-your-breath bridge.”

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:50 | 4708671 kito
kito's picture

"The last hurdle to clear is financing. Last year, an analysis by a group co-chaired by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker questioned whether the Thruway Authority was creditworthy enough to fund the project, budgeted at the time to cost $5 billion. But then the winning $3.1 billion bid came in. State officials say they are confident they can cover that amount by securing a federal highway loan from the Obama administration and raising enough state funds, presumably from bonds backed by increased tolls (last week, they approved an initial $500 million issue).


too funny fonz. their solution of course is to borrow from the fed and then increase tolls, which of course will just go to right into the coffers of the toll attendants union.  i guess debt doesnt matter......




Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:15 | 4708460 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Clap, clap, clap and a big roar of approval for David Stockman and the Tylers for this one!  Bravo!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:40 | 4708614 Silver Bug
Silver Bug's picture

More nonsense, is anyone surprised? Really?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:02 | 4708395 Latitude25
Latitude25's picture

Were the interstate highway system and massive hydroelectric projects of past decades unnecessary?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:12 | 4708450 lordylord
lordylord's picture

Nobody is saying that.  I can guarantee you that the private sector could do the same job faster and more efficiently.  Government only knows how to waste.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | 4708505 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  Government only knows how to waste

Well,  not exactly "waste" if you happen to benefit...     Most people I know (some are even Libertarians, Conservatives, and "Conservatives") love Federal Big-Toy projects.    We'd all be stuck on trains if the "private sector" had to pay for all this cool infrastructure.   I can't imagine United Airlines floating airport mortgage bonds.    That's what politicians exist for:  to bring the smart-n-savvy people together to collectively screw the tax-payers (for the children, tho, of course).

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:45 | 4708643 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

BS.   There hasn't been a single large infrastructure project in the US that hasn't had either had a large direct portion of gov't-funding or indirect funding (eg bond guarantees) starting with the Erie Canal in the early 19th century. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:15 | 4708461 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

The idealist dumbass libertarian that inhabits my brain says:  The states could have built all it if they had wanted too.

But,  in reality,  nobody does big manly toy projects like the Feds:  Big-MIC, Big-Road, Big-Water, Big-Airport... 

It's too bad the manly men who run the Red Team don't like Big-Train as much as Big-Airport and Big-Road.   I guess only girly-men like trains.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:04 | 4708970 RealitySpike
RealitySpike's picture

Amazing how the 2 poster children for successful (true) infrastructure investment are used to justify spending on infrastucture maintenance that should have been done anyways. As Stockman points out repaving/repairing neglected highways/bridges is just an excuse for politicians to get more tax money to waste. The irony is these 2 projects have little in common with what is being promoted as infrastructure now.

The interstates were designed by the feds in the 30's primarily in response to the carnage on the US highway system. (If you want a sense of what is was like, drive US-1 between Miami and Key West -- the most dangerous road in America -- and imagine this on a national scale.) The system was funded by a levy on gasoline, tires, and oil products. The feds (thanks to DDE's efforts) just guaranteed the bond. The unintended payoff of the system is that it created suburban America and spawned icons like McDonalds and Taco Bell. 

The private sector would have funded Hoover and others but the governments wanted to control the water and power. The dams were built by low bidder consortia who violated every pro-union,  EPA, OSHA, affirmative action, etc. guideline that would be applied today. The biggest challenge in getting these started was the inter-state fighting over water rights.

Today's equivalents (pipelines, ports expansion, water storage, etc.) don't need public funding they are simply blocked by the idealogues in government.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:03 | 4708405 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

We need a speed rail from Vegas to Atlantic City. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:12 | 4708449 remain calm
remain calm's picture

We need a speed rail from the White House to Hell

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:18 | 4708484 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture



Just in case they do not build that, there is always the Highway to Hell already...:


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:07 | 4708412 Big Corked Boots
Big Corked Boots's picture

The data set is flawed; there are thousands of bridges (culverts) at a county and municipal level that are in poor condition. In my county some of the bridges are stone arches built 150+ years ago that are hazardous to fire trucks.

If you want to talk about wasting tax funds on inefficient designs, environmental restrictions placed on waterway crossings, prevailing wage laws, etc. that's a different issue.

Edit disclosure: I'm in the construction industry.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:11 | 4708445 BandGap
BandGap's picture

I have two sons working towards engineering degrees. Maybe a third, but he might be too smart for that.

The data is somewhere in between vested interest and reality. I lean towards reality most days.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:14 | 4708456 headhunt
headhunt's picture

'prevailing wage laws' - Haha! - union welfare

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:19 | 4708488 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

More roads  = more bridges = more upkeep.  Maybe we have too many roads.  I was looking at google maps this morning (I'm a map digenerate) and there are huge swaths of the nation set to a perfect grid of roads - mostly in the northern plains / breadbasket states, but into Ohio as well. 

The question then becomes: which roads actually get used regularly, and without substitute, and are so worth the expense of upkeep?  To which the natural answer would be: if a road is worth keeping, it is likely already being kept.  I would be very wary in the "infrastructure" argument.  You do not fill more plates with food, by making more plates.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:28 | 4708535 Edward1290
Edward1290's picture

Time to ''Blow up'' the Interstate Hwy system......get back to 'localism'........

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:58 | 4708708 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Yup destroying the Interstate Hwy system would do economic wonders for the US and be beneficial!  Maybe we can tear down the Internet too and party like it is 1884!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:03 | 4708739 Edward1290
Edward1290's picture

highway and internet are two different animals...sorry it went over ur head......

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:43 | 4709112 Confused
Confused's picture

if a road is worth keeping, it is likely already being kept


I would like to agree with this theory, but as others have pointed out, a drive through NY or the surrounding area disproves this notion. The money which presumably is budgeted for these types of repairs, unfortunately, seems to be going elsewhere (perhaps to cover shortfalls in other areas?). 


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:55 | 4708690 silentboom
silentboom's picture

That's not for the Federal government to throw borrowed money at.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:05 | 4708415 Tinky
Tinky's picture

I'll tell what's really crumbling – whatever was left of John Kerry's dignity as he grovels to apologize to his Isreali masters about having used the "A" word while speaking in a "private" setting.

Nothing could be more pathetic.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:19 | 4708495 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Go right to the source and ask the horse...come on, you know the words!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:20 | 4708496 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Dignified?  John Kerry?  LOL!


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:06 | 4708417 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

I support a high speed rail between Congress and a FEMA internment camp!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:54 | 4708687 CHX
CHX's picture

just find the nearest sinkhole to CONgress, no need for overcapacity infrastructure IMHO.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:12 | 4708425 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

David obviously hasn't traveled some of this country's roads. I would much rather spend currency improving the shithole this place is becoming  than on the MIC and their nation destroying then rebuilding  pet projects.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:29 | 4709522 nasa
nasa's picture

Exactly, Afghanistan has a nicer highway than the one I drive to work everyday.  And I get to pay for both. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:09 | 4708436 sbenard
sbenard's picture

The Propaganda President is proven once again to be the Deceiver in Chief!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:11 | 4708448 crash commando
crash commando's picture


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:11 | 4708444 whoisonfirst
whoisonfirst's picture

State owned highways in my state are horrible, but that is my state's duty to fix. We even passed a bill a number of years ago that federal dollars for roads actually be spent on roads and not go into the general revenue. This created a flurry of repairs and re-paving for a few years. Now they want a state wide $.01 sales tax to pay for road repairs. If it weren't for federal regs saying prevailing union wages must be paid to contractors, there might be enough $$ to go around.   

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:15 | 4708463 seek
seek's picture

The banding on this map suspiciously resembles how I think states align if the US balkanizes. Curious.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:37 | 4708596 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

It's all part of the plan....
Brezenski and his "bite sized" take over approach...steady as she goes.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:17 | 4708479 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

I think people are missing his point; the ROI will be minimal as most of these so called faltering bridges are in ass-end counties.

If only the Deceiver in Chief could say so because he'll spend the pork anyways.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:17 | 4708482 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Imma have to disagree on this one.

Drove from Indy to Chicago Easter weekend. I know, sucks to be me, but family is where they is.
10 years from Detroit level of decay...tops.

Made Pittsburg look cheery and quaint.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:34 | 4708571 machineh
machineh's picture

10 years from Detroit level of decay...tops.

Shhh ... let's give Rahm a chance to finish his looting.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:19 | 4708493 schooltruth
schooltruth's picture

Thank you for this review of the facts.  Both Barry Ritholtz & Jim Cramer have been pounding the table on the bridge theme so much lately I asked yesterday "Did they bet the farm on $CAT?"

Yes, infrastructure needs to be repaired/replaced but the reality is that we get a very poor return on our investments at the Federal Level.  2 years ago the Feds put in a 5 mile extension from the interstate to a military installation.  The existing roads worked fine but this cut 3 minutes off of the commute.  $87mil for 5 miles.  China might be able to build 3 ghost cities for $87mil US.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | 4708512 youngman
youngman's picture

They need to take out Davis Bacon...that makes it cost 5 times as more Boston big price that is more for corruption and mistakes

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:26 | 4708530 4 Freedoms
4 Freedoms's picture

Ummm.... These are bridges people actually use.  So, why is it acceptable for ANY of them to be deficient?

By the way, what's the Army Corps of Engineers doing these days?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:31 | 4708553 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Studying about the Contributions Islam has made to Space Exploration and attending Anti Rape and Anti Gay training.  You think they actually get to build shit?  No, no, that gets bid out to congressman's brother in laws who have construction companies.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:46 | 4708648 madcows
madcows's picture

You'd think that a Corps of Engineers would be building shit.  But, NO! The Corps is nothing more than a bunch of permit bandits.  They are no different than the EPA.  They don't BUILD ANYTHING!  They make REAL engineers spend years permitting the projects that their clients want built, and they levy massive costs for their efforts.  The Corps should be dismantled just like all the other federal government bureaucracies.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:37 | 4708591 Its_the_economy...
Its_the_economy_stupid's picture

The number of vehicle miles travelled in this country has collapsed, what, 30%?

GAs taxes are down. The Fed has a lot of mouths on those teats. Result: Up, up, UP w fuel taxes.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:49 | 4708666 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

It is an issue where they should have just indexed the federal gasoline excise tax to inflation.  One less thing for idiot politicians to grandstand on and take foolish stances.  Another think we can thank Gingrich for when he was Speaker of the House & decried the tyranny of the federal gasoline excise tax even though it is one of the more useful taxes because Congress can't put it into general revenue streams. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:37 | 4708598 Icewater Enema
Icewater Enema's picture

Trickle-down by any other name...

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:38 | 4708604 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

I hit a small pothole back in January.  We need to spend a trillion dollars to fix that pothole.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:54 | 4708916 silentboom
silentboom's picture

True, exactly the argument that the statists throw out to try to discredit articles like these.  By the way I'm sweating my ass off must be global warming.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:38 | 4708606 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

Gives a new meaning to "the Pork Highway". (See Andrew Zimmern's show on Puerto Rico on youtube).

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:40 | 4708613 Itchy and Scratchy
Itchy and Scratchy's picture

Moar $$$ for the road to nowhere!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:40 | 4708620 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

Just a way of bailing out insolvent states and cities under the table.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:42 | 4708631 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Usually Stockman has interesting but he is incredibly off-base on here for a couple of reasons including his lack of civil engineering and his misguided belief that the US should continue its current policy of everything being 'car-centric' with mass transportation funding being misguided at best and foolish at worst.

US is living off a lot of old, long-term investments (see it daily on the train ride in Philly with the rail line I am on still leveraging pieces of technology and infrastructure from the long-defunct Pennsylvania Railroad) and not adequately even investment in maintaining let alone expanding its transportation capacity.   

China has copied a lot of the US policies around basing transportation around the automobile and it will have a lot of the same delterious effects as it has had in the US.  European countries don't do much better than the US but infrastructure & coordinated long-term planning is certainly one of them.  Americans also typically don't travel outside of the US and if they did they would realize how mediocre/poor the infrastructure is in the US compared to other countries. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:14 | 4709460 kurt
kurt's picture

Hey, Civil Engineering Boy!

The electric trains were bumped out by a gang rape of Big Oil and General Motors, a long time ago. Dare I say, it was a conspiracy.

As for your boner over 'car-centric' culture, take this daisey and stick it up your ass. Our automobile era worked up till 2007 when monopoly pricing fucked us out of all our extra cash. There is a family station wagon, big, made in the USA by Volkswagon, that YOU CAN'T BUY, that gets 70 miles per gallon.

Jeepers, could that be a conspiracy?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:44 | 4708642 stopthejunk1
stopthejunk1's picture

You're right, it's better to pay people to stay at home, or just let them starve, rather than pay them to fix bridges.


The writer misses the point entirely.  He also lacks vision.


By the same kinds of arguments, no public works project would ever be undertaken, let alone maintained once it's completed.  The kinds of projects that have made America one of the best places in the world to live and work (although that is rapidly eroding) such as the Interstate highway system, Lake meade, the Hoover Damn, the Golden Gate bridge -- we could do without all of these, certainly.  After all, Bulgeria doesn't have Interstate highways, and they're doing just fine in Bulgeria.  Aren't they?


Thank God that most people have too much sense to take arguements like this seriously.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:47 | 4708657 silentboom
silentboom's picture

You are part of ther problem in this bankrupt former Constituional Republic.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:55 | 4708684 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Your right infrastructure is overrated and boring.  Clean water and sanitation into your home?  Who cares.   

There is an element on here that is what I call 'Tard America' who are anti-establishment which isn't a bad thinga but are also anti-science too with a strong bent too. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:00 | 4708719 HowardBeale
HowardBeale's picture

Agree--if I correctly understand you.

And I would have to say, if Stockman thinks there are no infrastructure problems, he must not get out much--of the house, of the limousine, and surely of the country, as my 20K miles of motorcycle touring across the U.S. over the past couple of years says What a f*%&ing mess these roads are; and my living in six countries other than the U.S. over the past 25 years says U.S. public transportation? Where! 

This country is a third world infrastructure-ily!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:17 | 4708795 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

That is a symptom of our current problems.


Treating symptoms of a serious disease does not cure the underlying illness and if done incorrectly it makes the illnes worse in the long run.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:13 | 4708784 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

You miss the point.


The debate is not over infrastructure versus no infrastructure.  The debate is over inefficient allocation of productive capacity for political purposes

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:48 | 4708908 silentboom
silentboom's picture

You just can't imagine a country without your god...government.  My sanitation is collected by a private company who sends me a bill.  I have well water.  Is that Tard America?  Maybe you should ask the man in the mirror.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:55 | 4709155 Confused
Confused's picture

The argument between you two gentlemen aside, the private company that hauls your trash has certainly paid/bribed someone for that ability. And it would appear that well water can be easily contaminated (fracking?). 


There is no doubt, the state in all forms presents more problems than not. But infrastructure in some cities is seriously in trouble. Again, this stems from the states misallocation of funds. Instead of doing yearly maintenance, I'm sure they say: "Ah, looks good, we can revisit this next year" and then just use the money on something where a shortfall (ie - overspending) has taken place. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:34 | 4710383 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Go back to HuffPost or the Daily Beast you low info piece of socialist shit, :).

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:02 | 4708733 Icewater Enema
Icewater Enema's picture

It's not an all or nothing argument. But every bridge tunnel, dam, and mile of road is a prepetual obligation and liability. Spend money to maintain first before creating new. If the gov't wants to sprinkle money around the country for the benefit of the politicians and corporations that control it, fine, but do it intelligently.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:03 | 4708734 Icewater Enema
Icewater Enema's picture

It's not an all or nothing argument. But every bridge tunnel, dam, and mile of road is a prepetual obligation and liability. Spend money to maintain first before creating new. If the gov't wants to sprinkle money around the country for the benefit of the politicians and corporations that control it, fine, but do it intelligently.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:31 | 4710372 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Seems like more and more ZH posters are coming from Yahoo news or USA today or any number of mind numbing Newszack sites.  Please go away

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:51 | 4708674 Otto Zitte
Otto Zitte's picture

The DMV racket was started to cover the costs of road infrastructure. Now its state monopoly mugging and theft.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:02 | 4708729 brown_hornet
brown_hornet's picture

Little anecdote...Here in the west of Chicago burbs, they put up a big sign a few years ago that the American Investment and Recovery Act was going to give us new sidewalks. (not needed of course) When they re did the last 5 squares to the corner, they made the grade too high. Now as I sit here rained out today, I can look out my window at the river that used to go right down the sidewalk into the street being diverted in to my front yard.  I call it Lake Stimulus.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:05 | 4709425 kurt
kurt's picture

At least the shattered wrecks of abandoned houses have nice sidewalks!

And the shopping carts full of stripped copper roll nice.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:02 | 4708732 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Roads and bridges are sexy but we have much bigger issues with the electrical grid and water infrastructure. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:08 | 4708761 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

Warren Buffet's father warned us about this very thing decades ago in a speech.


It is sad to watch the inevitable decline.


Misallocation is as misallication does.


Paper money is infinitely creatable.   Productive capacity is not and must be used efficiently or we fall behind those who more efficiently use their productive capacity.   

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:09 | 4708763 Tsar Pointless
Tsar Pointless's picture

I'd like Mr. Stockman to come ride on some of the bridges we have in the Pittsburgh area. Nice, 100-year-old structures that are crumbling and have had their weight limits LOWERED, cauing public transit to institute detours for some well-traveled routes.

The roads and bridges in this country are like the brains of most of the nation's inhabitants - structurally deficient.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:28 | 4710358 falconflight
falconflight's picture

So federal taxpayers are responsible for Pittsburg/PA roads?  Eat me

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:11 | 4708776 torak
torak's picture

Even Ronald Reagan fell for that one. During the long trauma of the 1981-1982 recession the Reagan Administration had stoutly resisted the temptation to implement a Keynesian style fiscal stimulus and jobs program–notwithstanding an unemployment rate that peaked in double digits.

Thank God Obama resisted temptation and simply paraded the Keynesaian style fiscal stimulus in front of the unemployed and never actually implemented it, instead choosing to funnel funds to the nearest banksters and insolvent TBTF corporations.  Sweet Jesus and God help us if money was ever earmarked for jobs.  The economy might actual recover.  Who'd want that?

Long GM

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:26 | 4708827 Latitude25
Latitude25's picture

Who could have put the entire GPS satellite system in place besides the government?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:36 | 4708873 Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Jack Dangermond?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:03 | 4708943 silentboom
silentboom's picture

Well, verizon has a location system built into their wireless network that does not use gps so there could be other options if government subsized options weren't sucking us dry even though the government even has their tentacles heavily into verizon and communications as well.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:54 | 4709152 Latitude25
Latitude25's picture

And what would the thousands of ships at sea all over the world use?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:27 | 4710354 falconflight
falconflight's picture

A sexton, Moo!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:17 | 4709246 withglee
withglee's picture

Iridium and Globalstar.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:27 | 4710349 falconflight
falconflight's picture

I've have positions w/ Iridium several times over the past few years.  I thought it might be a huge breakout stock.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:40 | 4708875 silentboom
silentboom's picture

Sure, what we need, more government funding and involvement.  Seems to work everytime IF THE GOAL IS TO BANKRUPT US!  Nearly everything in this country started out private and was taken over by the bueracrats who break your leg and then hand you a crutch, this includes major highways in major states.


The Long Island Motor Parkway built in 1908 by William Vanderbilt II, with its banked turns, guard rails, reinforced concrete tarmac, and controlled access, was the first limited-access roadway in the world and later the first superhighway.  It was the first roadway designed exclusively for automobile use, the first concrete highway in the United States, and the first to use overpasses and bridges to eliminate intersections.

In 1938 it was sold to New York State for $80,000 in lieu of back taxes and closed and the Nothern State parkway, Grand Central, etc were developed.

"In January 1932, the budget submitted by Roosevelt would start moving money towards fast tracking construction of parkways on Long Island, as the Westchester parkway system was in full force. $1.08 million was appropriated for the Northern State Parkway construction along with $92,000 for landscaping work out of the $9.5 million requested for Long Island in total.[31] However, in February, the state legislature cut down the amount of money on the budget that Roosevelt had submitted. Instead of the $1.08 million, which was cut from the budget, $200,000 was instead given to the Grand Central Parkway. Roosevelt slammed the decision by the Republican leaders in the Legislature as a "cleverly disguised salary reduction program." The cuts also included $15,000,000 for parkways and highways, which would break an agreement in 1929 that would go to the construction of facilities for motorists.[32] In response, Moses and the LISPC went and applied for federal grants on July 18 to pay for the Northern State, along with other projects slashed in the budget. $1 million was requested to pave both the Grand Central and Northern State."

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:25 | 4710343 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Interesting historical info, thx.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:54 | 4708928 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

How about a bike tax, with a license plate and annual fee!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:45 | 4709123 ncdirtdigger
ncdirtdigger's picture

And some clothing standards for those fat arses in lycra.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:15 | 4709463 BeansMcGreens
BeansMcGreens's picture

But then I coldn't say everytime to my children "It Must Be Jelly Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That".

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:56 | 4708937 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Government knows what it's doing. A post-industrial decaying welfare slum state simply does not need the same infrastructure build-out as a new rising industrial/manufacturing superpower, and certainly can't afford it either, and definitely not when it has the the size and population density of the US. That, and the age of cheap energy which made all of this infrastructure possible and seemingly affordable and apparently justified, is kaput so at this point wasting any more money on it is downright stupid.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:01 | 4709416 kurt
kurt's picture

Eisenhower stiplulated the national highway system's roads be a certain width so they could be used as airstrips during a ground war in the USA. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 14:58 | 4708942 RacerX
RacerX's picture

I don't know what Fed program it is, but in the past few years we have gotten a lot of those amber road signs put up.. along with the sensors that make my radar detector go off. Seeing spending on horseshit like that, I can't imagine where the rest of the $$ is going. I'm sure there are more than a few Dem donors lining up at the trough for all the "infrastructure dollars".. fucking pigs.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:53 | 4709388 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

EZPass and such can also be used to detect speeding.  I've been told that equipment is already in place on local highways to allow for automatic scanning of tags and issuance of speeding tickets but the enabling legislation has yet to be passed.

ANYTHING that allows goverment to collect more 'fines' is being implememted at full speed.  Same with surveillance.  Notice that damn near every stop light has video cameras also in place now?   EVERY major local interesection now has surveillance cameras.

You're seeing higher and higher summonses on EVERY possible violatiopn now - some communities are killing off commerce with way too high parking fees and even wirse overtime summonses.  The number of local spped treaps has grown exponentially.  Even with a local poewer failure taking out a ton of traffic lights you had a car still on speed trap duty instead of maybe directing traffic at one of the major intersections gummed up by the lack of a functioning traffic light.

"Serve and Protect" has morphed into a wealth extraction scheme - nowhere worse than the confiscation laws - blatantly unconstitutional  - where you can lose any cash you're carrying if the cops find it to be 'suspicious' and even your car.   You have to prove you're innocent of any possible criminal activity.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:13 | 4709011 teslaberry
teslaberry's picture

fuck YEA i've been saying this shit for years. 


the 'infrastrucutre' propoganda sounded so much like the "do it for the children' propoganda. the entire media tone of all those storeis set me against it as a lie for a long long time. 


usually i like to do my research before being a dick head contrarian , but iwth that stuff i just took the pluge into being a contrarian skeptic. years later------stockman backs me up with real research!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 15:44 | 4709120 ncdirtdigger
ncdirtdigger's picture

I am all for spending on road repairs. But then I am related to the head of my state's DOT and I import those orange cones from Indonesia so what would you expect me to say?

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:04 | 4709199 Ludwig Von
Ludwig Von's picture

Maybe the US is just spending to much on military and all it 's offspring... . :-)

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:19 | 4709247 WhyWait
WhyWait's picture

So a job is a job if a private corporation is building a highway for profit, but it's not really a job if a government is hiring people directly to build a highway, right?

Is it a semi-job if the government raises money by taxes but hires a private contractor to build it?

Would it be a job if a government hired people directly to build a toll road and made a profit on it?

From where I'm sitting it's still a job and it's still a highway either way, but I guss I must be brainwashed.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:21 | 4710319 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Yes, I agree, your ability to ferret out the salient point is structurally deficient.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:30 | 4709291 BeetleBailey
BeetleBailey's picture

Hey! STILL! Shovel-ready jobs! Still available.

I say we take the shit-shoveling Congress and put their asses to work!


Cool Hand Luke! The late, great Strother Martin....tell em Strother!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:44 | 4709347 pipes
pipes's picture

That's all fine and dandy, David...but if the QE money fabricated into existence all went to infrastructure instead of the black hole that is the financial industry, we' would already be out of the depression, and have all sorts of shiny new things to boot.


...and don't even get me started on foreign aid and wars...



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:19 | 4710315 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Yeah, why don't we just build brand new, all urban planner masterpieces?  sigh

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 19:28 | 4714184 pipes
pipes's picture

Look, dimwit...100 billion(more or less) a month is QE'd into existence.

That's reality.

I am not arguing the morality or ethicality of it.

So, yeah. LET'S DO build something with it as opposed to floating a corrupt, crony financial marketplace which produces NOTHING, benefits FEW, and is a net BURDEN on all of us.



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:58 | 4709398 kurt
kurt's picture

In short, Bullshit is

     Shovel Ready

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:00 | 4709410 The Reich
The Reich's picture

Deficient state bridges are fine homeless shelters for a secondary exploitation.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:07 | 4709438 Hamudon
Hamudon's picture

The Obama administration sent to Congress legislation that would provide $302 billion for road and transit projects over four years, a measure needed to keep the U.S. Highway Trust Fund from running dry.


Somebody was complaining about unemployment? WPA will help you :)


WPA built traditional infrastructure of the New Deal such as roads, bridges...


Tue, 04/29/2014 - 17:29 | 4709524 ussa
ussa's picture

Has Stockman even been around the US?  He is a bit clueless on this topic.  Public investment in infrastructure generally crowds in private investment.  The US has chronically underinvested for the past 40 years.  Our periods of highest growth were generally associated with high levels of investment. 

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 18:13 | 4709660 ObamaDepression
ObamaDepression's picture

The link attached is to the American Society of Civil Engineers that monitors our infrastructure.

Overall grade is D+ with $3.6 Trillion of spending needed.

The author may have some good points that much of the poor infra structure is State and local. Nevertheless, much of our infrastructure is crumbling.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:18 | 4710310 falconflight
falconflight's picture

I guess you missed the point of the article.  Propaganda is omnipresent and the people in the nosebleed seats won't have it any other way.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 18:52 | 4709775 sheikurbootie
sheikurbootie's picture

You fuckers with the shitty roads in NY, NJ, PA etc...  The majority of your shitty fucking pothole pieces of shit are NOT fucking FEDERAL roads.  FIX YOUR OWN SHIT (city/county/state roads) WITH YOURE OWN FUCKING TAX MONEY BITCHES.  Keep your fucking hands out of my pockets! I've been to your shit hole potholes states in the last 12 months, so go fuck yourselves.  You spent the money on local pensions.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 22:40 | 4710642 falconflight
falconflight's picture

Finally, gawd damnit, someone with an effing clue as to the main point of Stockman's piece.  Jesus, most of you posters must be trying to move on up to the Eastside from Yahoo or USA Today, etc.  gtfo


Wed, 04/30/2014 - 19:46 | 4714223 pipes
pipes's picture

So you're a freeloader?!

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:16 | 4710302 falconflight
falconflight's picture

A great article that broadens an average citizen's basic knowledge about a subject we've all heard (if you pay attention) about repeatedly our entire lives.  

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:46 | 4710416 AdvancingTime
AdvancingTime's picture

To the many who see government spending on infrastructure as a silver bullet for the economy and as a job creator I would like to raise a word of caution, It may be time for a "truth off'. More "bridges to nowhere" and wasted spending exist then the taxpayer could ever imagine.

Often this spending falls short of creating real wealth for our country. In my book Advancing Time I talk about a bridge recently replaced in Fort Wayne, Indiana that even the city's leading newspaper said we did not need. The newspaper had gone on to state the bridge did not "need" to be replaced, but only needed minor repairs. More on how this kind of spending tends to fuel waste in the article below.

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:58 | 4710477 rex-lacrymarum
rex-lacrymarum's picture

Roads and bridges, along with everything else, need to be privatized. Government bureaucracies cannot know the opportunity cost involved in spending on infrastructure - they are all hostage to the socialist calculation problem. 

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 19:37 | 4714201 pipes
pipes's picture



That is the dumbest suggestion ever.


How in the world can a man be free, if his ability to travel may be denied?



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 22:50 | 4710684 oooBooo
oooBooo's picture

The idea is to steal/squander all the money and then hold roads and other things most people want from government hostage until tax increases are agreed to by the population.



Wed, 04/30/2014 - 02:50 | 4711025 Mediocritas
Mediocritas's picture

Kickstarter style infrastructure projects.

Users are assigned virtual credits, the amount based on their lifetime taxes paid, known from the IRS (a person with a high lifetime tax contribution demonstrates a history of competence and honesty, I value their judgement more highly).

Project lead makes a pitch for an infrastructure project (kickstarter style [ ] ) and users vote by choosing to assign as much virtual credit as they wish.

If the project goes viral with users then it's obviously desired and worth starting. If it's a barely used bridge in shitsville, then it doesn't get up without a damn good / convincing pitch as to why it's necessary.

Let demand pull the funding decisions rather than some remote panel try to push funding sub-optimally where it isn't needed.

Project teams are legally accountable if a project's cost exceeds the amount raised, an amount that the team contracts for and promises to deliver within.

Treasury assigns real spending based on where users have assigned their virtual credit, by some defined ratio, depending on usage. Eg, 10:1, real:virtual.

When it all fucks up, as it probably will (but no more badly than it already does), then people (users) only have themselves to blame.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!