Friday, August 17, 2007

"Fast-track bridges becoming standard"

The Pioneer Press has an excellent piece today about the common practice of fast-tracking bridge construction in order to safely get traffic and commerce moving.

When Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said a replacement for the collapsed Interstate 35W bridge would be built by late 2008, some were skeptical. They questioned whether the agency was rushing ahead without regard to safety or how the bridge should be designed.

But accelerated construction schedules, using contracts with steep incentives for builders, have become common since 1994 when C.C. Myers rebuilt Southern California's earthquake-damaged Interstate 10 in 66 days, earning a $14.5 million bonus. (excerpted from Pioneer Press story)

This is clearly an issue of defining priorities here in Minnesota (and a model of defining priorities elsewhere).

Are we more worried about salamanders being displaced, or are we more worried about people's livelihoods being disrupted?

Are we worried about debating bids for the most unique aesthetics, or does that seem a little trivial?

Can we define some of the red-tape that can be set aside for the purpose of getting life back to normal?

And when we do so, can we reexamine whether all that red-tape was necessary to begin with.

And Brian McClung, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who first set the aggressive timetable, said the job could be finished on time and safely.

"We're going to hold (the contractors) accountable to building a safe bridge and doing it in the right way," McClung said. (excerpted from Pioneer Press article)

The Governor spent a significant part of his morning radio show talking about his "Drive to Excellence" initiative.

State Government is saving millions and millions of dollars under Governor Pawlenty simply by doing "the stuff" of Government more efficiently, and using new technology.

The same thing conceptually applies to the leadership he is showing as he seeks to rebuild this bridge.

I feel a little sorry for the dinosaurs in state government and politics generally (and the media of course) who are skeptical. They aren't helping us get traffic moving again.

But it is apparent the Governor has a little more vision and foresight than those skeptics. So we can expect bold initiatives out of his office to move this project ahead for the people of Minnesota who just want this thing built.

I encourage you to click here for the entire Pioneer Press story.

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