OK, you've probably all heard of the ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal government was going to spend over $700 Billion to help the economy recover from the Recession. Of that money, $27 Billion was to go for bridge and highway projects, including improvements to or replacement of deficient bridges.
According to deficientbridge.com, there are over 72,000 structurally deficient bridges in the US and nearly 79,000 functionally obsolete. So, one would expect a large chunk of money to go for replacing bridges, right? WRONG!
Missouri, to their credit, is replacing several bridges with ARRA funds as well upgrading US 71 between Carthage and Kansas City. MO 126, for example, is being upgraded to a full interchange in preparation for 71 eventually becoming Interstate 49.
Arkansas? Well, some work is being done along future I-49 east of Fort Smith, but a lot of it is being wasted. Back in May, I noticed US 71 being resurfaced in the vicinity of Needmore, as well as around Mena. Neither one of the stretches of highway was in any desperate need of repairs, yet AHTD spent ARRA funds to repave them anyway. Were there no bridges to repair or replace? Or was it simply easier to do these projects and claim you're using the government's money? Now, I for one hate to see the old bridges disappear, but if the government gives you money to replace or repair them, whay are you repaving roads that don't need it?
And one other thing: those ARRA signs you see along the roadside? They cost anywhere from $900 to $7000 each and are considered part of the bid.
Fix the bridges, fix the roads, but quit wasting money on extravagant signage or roads that don't need work.