Friday, April 15, 2005

Interstate love song

Corridor X has cost too much and has taken too long to build. It's still not done. It won't be done for another seven years.

But that won't stop highway officials from designating the corridor as Interstate 22 on Monday. The "interstate," which abruptly ends in bucolic Walker County right now, eventually will replace U.S. 78 as the main Birmingham-to-Memphis thoroughfare at a cost of a mere $1 billion and counting just for the portion in Alabama. It'll be convenient when it's finally finished, assuming it ever is.


Blogger Marlin Caddell said...

I know fixing the interstate infrastructure of Alabama is important and everything, but I would sure like to see more kids be able to learn to read and write.

Maybe this is a misguided thought on my part, but I sure wish we could use some money from some of these projects to fund education.

A few pot holes verses better education for our children. It seems like a fairly easy choice to me although I realize they aren't going to divert any of that money away.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a glib, simplistic summation of the situation. Well done, fish-boy.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Marlin Caddell said...

I was actually just making an off the cuff statement.

Even though Corridor X will have an economic impact on the state in future years, I just feel like more time, energy and money went into this project by state legislators than the time and energy state legislators are putting into trying to fix the education system in the state.

That's all I'm saying.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Now, now, anonymous commenter, be nice, or at least contribute something productive to the discussion.

Marlin, I've long suspected that some legislators like the education system the way it is. After all, the less education and critical-thinking ability that people have, the more likely they are just to go along with what their authority figures tell them to do and think. That includes the times when those authority figures ask to be re-elected.

Another big problem is that some of the state's religious leaders spend far too little time pushing for improvements to the public education system and far too much time bashing it to try to make religious schools and home schools look better by comparison. Just imagine the difference if the state Christian Coalition devoted its resources to fighting for more equitable school funding instead of fighting against the very idea of a right to public education.

Private schools and home schools should always be options for parents who have the time, money, or desire to educate their children that way. But the truth is that economic realities in Alabama and elsewhere dictate that most students, no matter what their religious beliefs, will attend public schools. That makes it imperative to do what we can to make those schools better.

As for Corridor X, you can assign a lot of the blame to the federal government, which has funded the project in spurts over a few decades. When you're dealing with public works, the best thing to do is pay what's needed to get the job done quickly instead of paying for it piecemeal, which leaves partially built structures to sit there and deteriorate and send the completion costs spiraling out of control.

I like the idea of offering incentives to private contractors for getting the job done well and ahead of schedule. As we saw with the rapid reconstruction of two interstate bridges in Birmingham recently, that model works.

1:05 AM  

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