AgentMarkets & Economy

A sobering tale of 2 bridges

Infrastructure retrofit hurdles highlight America's sad state of affairs

It's a familiar sort of news item these days: A huge and vastly expensive bridge being proposed in California will forever alter one of the Golden State's most spectacular marine panoramas. It will be the largest of its type ever built, stretching more than a mile and a half between landfalls, towering nearly 700 feet above the water, and carrying six lanes of traffic into a once-isolated area containing some of the state's most unspoiled stretches of coastline. Here come years of political acrimony, debate over cost and viability, interference by special interests, uproar over environmental impact, and all the rest, right? Wrong. You won't hear any, because the bridge in question was completed across San Francisco's incomparable Golden Gate 75 years ago, in an era when ambitious engineering projects were met with unity of purpose rather than fractious bickering. This may explain why the Golden Gate Bridge could be built in the incredibly short span of 51 months, and at ...