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"You may have heard about the problem of crumbling bridges and highway boondoggles. Both were starkly highlighted in Maryland this past week.
Chunks of concrete fell from a bridge south of Washington, D.C., on a passing car below. The Indian Head bridge is on a list of the state’s “structurally deficient” bridges that are in need of repair.
Local resident Katherine Dean was passing under the I-495 bridge when chunks of concrete fell onto her car caving in her windshield and damaging the hood of the car. She was shaken, but unhurt. Dean was shocked by the suddenness with which the incident happened as she went about her daily errands.
The governor is proposing major cuts to transportation but is slated to spend $646 million on an expansion of Route 210 south of Washington, DC – despite the fact that the project is based on obsolete forecasts from 15 years ago when driving was rapidly increasing and some parts along the route have actually seen declining traffic.
Maryland PIRG’s Matt Wellington made sure people heard about these misplaced priorities. His op-ed in the Baltimore Sun this week begins, “Last week, a piece of concrete smashed onto a woman's car as she drove underneath a structurally deficient bridge in Prince George's County. There are about 80 structurally deficient bridges in Maryland maintained by the state and more than 300 if we include those operated by the counties. You'd think fixing them would be the top priority for state highway funds. But the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) too often invests taxpayer money on extravagant highway expansion projects. The need for many of these new highway lanes and upgrades is often highly questionable, but there's no question that they divert funds from much-needed repairs on bridges and roads across the state.”
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