Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

The region along the Ohio River known as Kentuckiana is about to become divided into Kentucky and Indiana.

Three bridges connect the communities. One is pretty much for local access only. Another has just been closed after a crack was found in it. It could be closed for months. That leaves only one major, clogged artery connecting the two states.

This is bad news for people in both communities, but particularly for people like me and my wife who live in southern Indiana and work in Kentucky. We can expect our commutes to more than double, if not worse. I’m lucky enough to have an employer that will be patient with me. Others aren’t as fortunate.

The sad part is this problem could have been avoided. It’s not like a natural disaster suddenly destroyed a bridge without warning. Instead, this problem has resulted over decades of use. Planners should have laid out alternatives years ago. To the extent that they’ve tried, they’ve been rebuffed by “not in our backyard” special interests threatening lawsuits. Hopefully, this serves as a wake-up call.

It’s time to put pettiness aside and move forward. Bridges won’t be built overnight. Severing these communities economically is not an option. What would Kentucky do without the contributions of Indiana workers? What would Indiana do without the taxes of Kentucky workers who choose their state as a bedroom community?

The fact that we’re in this predicament is a failure of the leadership of both states. They have urged us to think regionally, but haven’t provided us with the necessary infrastructure to support that strategy. That’s got to change, starting now.

Unfortunately, it could be too little too late. Many Indiana residents may be forced to reconsider their living and/or work arrangements. As for me, I guess I’ll be in the market for a personal submarine, a jet pack or a hang glider.

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