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February 18, 2011

Fixing Our Crumbling Roads and Bridges First

Road trip small
In 2007, we were shocked when the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis Minnesota Bridge crumbled before our eyes. Unfortunately, much of our roadways and bridges are in a similar state of disrepair as the I-35 bridge was before it collapsed, but instead of focusing on fixing what we have, Congress has traditionally spent transportation dollars unwisely on new roads and bridges.

Life-cycle emissions which include the mining and transportation of materials for new roads as well as additional traffic on new roads can generate up to 185,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over a 50 year period. New roads will encourage new sprawling developments, which in turn will encourage more driving. Instead of reducing congestion they can cause additional points of congestion.

Following the President's 2012 budget proposal for the department of transportation announced on February 15th, the Sierra Club released its revised Fix-It First map. When the Sierra Club originally released the map in 2005, our nation's roads and bridges received the same D grade that the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it today, six years later.

Twenty four percent of our nation's bridges are "structurally obsolete," while 33 percent of our roads are in "poor or mediocre" condition. Road conditions contribute to 22,000 fatalities and cost our nation more than $217 billion annually. U.S. motorists spend $67 billion a year in repairs and operating costs due to bad roads.

For the health of our economy and the safety of our families, we need roads without potholes and bridges we can cross safely. The President identifies the need to invest in our current transportation system in his budget. His proposal will allocate $556 billion to a six-year transportation bill that will hold states and local governments accountable for reporting on road and bridge conditions, which prioritizes the need to repair our current transportation infrastructure.

While we need to address our bumpy roads and dangerous bridges, we also need to invest in a 21st century transportation system. We need transportation choices that break our addiction to oil and Big Oil's stronghold on our economy. We need transportation choices that move goods safely and efficiently. The President's budget prioritizes the need to fix our roads and bridges while providing a transportation vision for the future.

-- Kesaaraa Wijeyewickrema, Program Assistant, Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign

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