Speaking of Taxes

How about we spend some money to fix our crumbling infrastructure so things like this don’t happen:

A bridge collapsed in the West Deptford area of New Jersey on Friday, sending several train cars carrying toxic chemicals crashing into a creek near the Delaware River, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and flammable chemical, is believed to be leaking into Mantua Creek, Petty Officer Nick Ameen told CNN. No serious injuries have been reported, but nearby schools are on lockdown, a borough emergency official said, and people in the immediate area have been evacuated.

A representative for Underwood Memorial Hospital told CNN that the hospital has treated 18 patients with respiratory issues.

That would make too much sense.

52 replies
  1. 1
    John M. Burt says:

    The national debt is often cited as an example of a dysfunctional government, but the degree of “deferred maintenance” is what worries me most.

  2. 2

    Because if we did that, John, we’d lose out on the chance to privatize those bridges by selling them off to companies owned by politically connected people who could then make money off of them by charging tolls.

    While still not doing the work to repair them because no one could have foreseen that the bridge was unsound.

  3. 3
    slippy says:

    Yeah, I’m sure we “saved” a lot of money by letting this bridge collapse.

    I wish there were like a priority system for budget dollars, so that when someone wants to raid the infrastructure budget for a war, actually no that can’t happen and instead they have to sell a tax increase to the people to go fight said war.

    It sure would help focus our national priorities.

  4. 4
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Liberal infiltrators blew up that bridge to try to make conservatives look bad. The timing with the toxic chemical train is just toooooo convenient, sheeple!

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Was driving in the city yesterday and there was road construction: bunch of guys digging a big hole, sewer pipes, etc. Right before I got to them there was a big sign that just said “WORKERS.”

    I thought it would be useful if all of those signs said “TAKERS” so that everyone could be faced with how fucking stupid the GOP plutocrat rhetoric is on this.

    They fix your roads, haul away your trash, teach your kids, drive the ambulances, put out the fires, patrol the streets.

    It’s called America, motherfuckers.

  6. 6
    PeakVT says:

    I agree with the general sentiment, but in this case I’m 99.9% confident the bridge in question is private property (PDF).

    ETA: Spending more public money inspecting private RR bridges might not hurt.

  7. 7
    Brachiator says:

    Do we know that the bridge is a public structure, and that it needed to be replaced?

    Just askin

  8. 8
    Brachiator says:

    Do we know that the bridge is a public structure, and that it needed to be replaced?

    Just askin

  9. 9
    Campionrules says:

    Of course this bridge is privately owned – by the rail company – and underwent a major ‘rebuild’ a couple of years ago.

    Not sure what this has to do with money for public infrastructure. Sounds like shoddy engineering or building when they did the refit.

    So it’s private not public infrastructure –

  10. 10
    RSR says:

    Got some friends who reside down in that area. It’s basically straight across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia International Airport main runways, if you’re looking for it on a map.

    I’m also concerned that there is no redundancy for that rail line. It serves many cargo, industrial, manufacturing and refining areas along the Delaware from Paulsboro, NJ to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, about a twenty mile stretch.

  11. 11
    👽 Martin says:

    If Obambi would dump his war on capitalism, things like this wouldn’t happen. Bridges would compete for train business, and trains would anticipate those bridges most likely to fall down and choose safer alternatives.

  12. 12
    schrodinger's cat says:

    OT: Meanwhile GOP outreach to immigrants continues, by naming an anti-immigrant Congress critter to head the Judiciary Committee, and introducing a new STEM bill on the back of the Diversity Lottery program.

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    Save for the main drag through town, which has new streetlights and paving, there’s been no maintenance work done on the roads in my town since we incorporated.

    In 1986.

  14. 14
    Culture of Truth says:

    Vinyl! couches are made of vinyl! Quit complaining.

    Also union demands collapsed that bridge. and the management deserves a bonus.

  15. 15
    TG Chicago says:

    Sorry for going OT, but:


    Sullivan is complaining that Obama is negotiating in the interests of the majority that just re-elected him. He says, “It’s a classic time for magnanimity – and yet he began the critical negotiations by poking the defeated GOP in the eye.”

    First, a Democratic wave election is not a classic time for magnanimity, it’s a classic time to get done what the voters elected Democrats to do. And how is it “poking the defeated GOP in the eye” by negotiating? What did he do that was so awful?

    He gave them a good deal before the election and they wouldn’t take it, so he’s not willing to give them as good a deal now that the voters said they’re behind Obama. That’s DEMOCRACY. A massive rejection of the Republican position isn’t a time for Democratic magnanimity, it’s a time for Republican humility.

    Also, I don’t recall Sullivan asking for Republicans to be magnanimous after they won the 2010 election. What a tool.

  16. 16
    Culture of Truth says:

    This is a classic time to mention the 5th column

  17. 17
    handsmile says:

    i don’t know if Chris Christie is a religious man, but just how many signs does he need that he really should become a Democrat? Should he call in EPA assistance on this one, Rush will probably excommunicate him.

  18. 18
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    There’s a lot of old railroad infrastructure in this country. Who on the left cares about such things? If anything theres an anti railroad animus (like Charlie Hales in Portland wanting to convert a railroad that is important to rural Oregon into a bike trail,

  19. 19
    the Conster says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Forget it TG, it’s Sullytown.

    He’s being a fucking idiot again.

  20. 20
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I think there is a good case to be made for high speed railway service along the entire 1-95 corridor. I mean driving on 95 from NJ to say northern Virginia is sheer hell and most people would welcome another alternative.

  21. 21
    EconWatcher says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Sullivan’s advice is obviously based on his vast and deep personal experience in negotiating complex budget deals with rabid ideological opponents.

    For the love of FSM, isn’t it time for people to concede that maybe Obama knows what he’s doing?

  22. 22
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @EconWatcher: Besides he can’t even calculate percentages, since he seems to have taken math lessons from Blenderella.

  23. 23
    handsmile says:

    @TG Chicago:

    How much more must Obama do to demonstrate his gratitude to Republicans? I mean just yesterday he gave one of his campaign “gifts” to their most recently defeated Presidential candidate: free food.

  24. 24
    the Conster says:


    For the love of FSM, isn’t it time for people to concede that maybe Obama knows what he’s doing?

    Mika, of all people, made this exact point on MorninHo this a.m.

  25. 25
    ET says:


    How dare we fix those things that made it so America could be at the top of the economic heap and whose businesses need infrastructure to make more money.


  26. 26
    mdblanche says:

    Spending public money on privately owned rail bridges is privatizing the profits and socializing the losses, another act that’s getting old. Maybe the railroad should be repairing its own bridges.

    @TG Chicago: But the President has been magnanimous. Just the other day he gave a White House tour and a free lunch to an unemployed Republican.

    ETA: @handsmile beat me to it.

  27. 27
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Infrastructure is for commies…and European soshulists. We strong, self reliant (un)Real ‘Murkins don’t need no stinkin’ infrastructure. I totally trust my Galtian overlords to make sure that elevator is working correctly.

  28. 28
    Trakker says:

    John. Number one. America is the greatest nation in the world. So our infrastructure is awesome.

    See how easy it is? Now cut my taxes.

    Number two. The railroad bridge was owned by a private company. Private companies are awesome, so their bridge couldn’t fail. It was obviously an act of God punishing the people of New Jersey for voting for Obama. So, stop regulating our industries and don’t. even. think. of suing the company that owns the bridge, just pray for forgiveness.

    Man, being a wingnut is awesome.

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:

    Vinyl chloride is a very bad, not nice chemical, particularly as a carcinogen. Not easy to clean up, also, too.


    Railroads don’t like spending money, period. They’ll avoid doing so if at all possible. The People present the 1991 Dunsmuir metam sodium spill into the upper Sacramento River.


    While UP has upgraded the devilishly tight curve where the wreck occurred, a lot of engineer types don’t think they’re doing anything beyond putting lipstick on a pig–much preferring a solution to the unusually tight radius.

    Here’s hoping they’re wrong.

  30. 30
    TG Chicago says:


    For the love of FSM, isn’t it time for people to concede that maybe Obama knows what he’s doing?

    I’m okay with people doubting Obama given that he couldn’t get the Grand Bargain together last time. But that’s all the more reason that it makes sense that he’s trying something different this time. Why should he just stick with the same plan that failed before?

    It’s just hilarious how Sullivan claims to hate the current GOP, but can’t resist saying that a big Democratic win is a great opportunity to give the GOP what they want.

  31. 31
    PeakVT says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: My congresscritters all try to get money for Vermont’s lightly-used RRs, and sometimes they succeed.

    A lot of rail lines occupy a weird place politically in America. They’re important as public infrastructure, but they can’t be used directly by the general public. And they are mostly privately-owned, so providing funding for their upkeep has the potential for corruption. There’s no one solution out there that will fit all of America, so individual politicians often come up with their own ideas, which can be dangerous.

  32. 32
    RSR says:

    Though it was tongue-in-cheek comment about privatizing the bridge, there is history of a private, automobile toll bridge ‘down the shore’ which closed down about a decade ago, unable to afford repairs or compete with the adjacent Garden State Parkway bridge.

    Beesley’s Point Bridge

    Through the decades, the Beesley’s Point Bridge Company became unable to fund repairs on the aging bridge. In 1997, the bridge in conjunction with private outside investors, secured a $1 million loan from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to fund the necessary improvements in exchange for a promise that they would continue to keep the bridge open until 2016.[2]
    In 2004, the owners of the bridge broke that promise realizing that the repairs would cost many times more than the original estimate. As a result, the Company agreed to close the bridge and it closed to traffic on June 18, 2004.

  33. 33
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @TG Chicago: Mark my words, Sullivan will switch back to sing GOP praises if and when they moderate on gay rights.

  34. 34
    NonyNony says:

    It’s just hilarious how Sullivan claims to hate the current GOP, but can’t resist saying that a big Democratic win is a great opportunity to give the GOP what they want.

    Sullivan only hates the GOP because they hate him. The modern GOP has decided that it hates gay people, and he’s gay. And it has decided that it hates people who have any inkling of using empirical methods to decide “truth” from “falsehood”, and Sullivan occasionally dabbles in empiricism. Ergo, the modern GOP hates Sullivan and he can’t associate with them.

    If the GOP somehow managed to extricate itself from the religious right and made itself the party of no taxes and corporate welfare while not hating gays or science, Sullivan would jump in a heartbeat. He’s no more liberal than I am a platypus.

  35. 35
    Schlemizel says:

    @TG Chicago:

    So, you have never heard of this Sully person before? You have no clue that this inflamed asshole ALWAYS does this. Yet somehow we liberals are supposed to love him because . . .

    Sorry if you didn’t know this – I assumed everyone here did

  36. 36
    Svensker says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Who on the left cares about such things? If anything theres an anti railroad animus (like Charlie Hales in Portland wanting to convert a railroad that is important to rural Oregon into a bike trail,

    Really? On the East Coast, trains are a big leftie issue. And my winger brother, on the West Coast, told me “I didn’t really love freedom” because I thought trains were a better idea than freeways in some cases.

  37. 37
    Linnaeus says:

    Even if the bridge is private property, the fact that toxic chemicals could now be leaking into the creek and affecting more than just the railroad company ought to count for something.

  38. 38
    Svensker says:

    Also, too, blowing up Mooslims is way more fun, er, important, yeah, that’s the ticket, important , than taking care of bridges, roads, power grids, etc., which should be owned by the Private Sector, which will magically keep these things in Excellent Working Order because of Invisible Hand. Also, lawsuits.

    Wait, it was a private bridge? Regulations made it fall down! And taxes!

  39. 39
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Linnaeus: yeah, it ought to be worth two or three counts on the indictment.

  40. 40
    Seanly says:


    If it is a railroad bridge, then yes, it is private property. However, as with any corporation, the railroads tend to not take care very good care of some aspects of their infrastructure.

    If you drive in the Northeast a lot, you see a lot of rusty looking railroad bridges. The railroads hate, hate, hate painting bridges, so they build the bridges out of weathering steel (where the rust patina forms a defensive layer against further rust) and paint them when they’re built and forget about them. However, this only applies to bridges after the 1960’s when Bethlehem Steel introduced the first weathering steels. Anything with a lot of rivets is much older and probably is a pile of rust like it looks.

    RE: abandoned RR lines – other than some oddball lines, most rail in the United States is owned by Union Pacific, CSX or Norfolk Southern. From dealings with CSX & NSRR a couple of years ago, I know that both of those corporations have begun to aggressively protect their right-of-way. Most of this is due to pie-in-the-sky dreams of lots more frieght trains running. So while some track may have lain dormant for 50 years, they are reticent to give them over for rails-to-trails.

    All that said, we need a much greater investment in our public infrastructure. As a member of ASCE, I’ll plug my peeps and recommend taking a look at the ASCE’s Report Card on the Infrastructure. There are also state chapters which put out report cards on their state. Engineers tend to understate lots of things, so when they say we’re getting a C or D in a category, they ain’t kidding.

  41. 41
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Seanly: And BNSF?

  42. 42
    WhyKnot241 says:

    But, but, FRW! I saw the ads, so it must be true.


    We don’t need no steenking taxes!

  43. 43
    Seanly says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Oops – well, UPRR, CSX & NSRR are the ones with whom I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with a bridge over their ROW. Edit – actually, haven’t been working in the NW long enough to have had bad dealings with UPRR. But whenever you ask a bridge engineer about dealing with any RR, you get the same sad sigh.

  44. 44
    sparrow says:

    THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT CONSERVATIVES. I don’t let them use that label.

  45. 45
    PeakVT says:

    @Seanly: If it is a railroad bridge, then yes, it is private property.

    Frequently, but not always. Many states own rail lines, and the US government (via Amtrak) owns most of the Northeast Corridor as well as other scattered lines.

    other than some oddball lines, most rail in the United States is owned by Union Pacific, CSX or Norfolk Southern

    Um, no. KCS, CN, and CP also own quite a bit, and they aren’t small operations.

  46. 46
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Isn’t it obvious that the bridge collapsed because all the Minds have gone on Strike to protest the electoral victory of the looter and moocher party, so there was nobody competent to repair it and no Rearden metal to use invent repairs?

    We sheeple need to wake up before they all go Galt, or we’ll be sorry!

  47. 47
    danimal says:

    @TG Chicago: It amazes me that Sully, knowing (and advocating) that this crop of GOPers needs to get kicked in the balls repetitively and with force until they give up teh crazy, cringes at the first time Obama plays hardball.

  48. 48
    kindness says:

    Can we start mocking Andrew Sullivan again? He’s such a drama queen wrt ‘The Fiscal Cliff’. Really sometimes that man is Peggy Noonan.

  49. 49
    catclub says:

    @WhyKnot241: Blocking the pipeline from Canada has been a (small) bonanza for the railroads that ship the oil instead.

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    More toxic waste in South Jersey? Who would notice?

    They’re all Phillies and Iggles fans down there. Fuck ’em.

    201 fa life!

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    our infrastructure averages a C grade.


    we need to fix it – which means non-outsourceable American Jobs.

    that would be too much like right.

  52. 52
    Ksmiami says:

    @EconWatcher: sully is so annoying on fiscal issues- the guy is an innumerate and calls our weak safety net entitlements. Look republicans lost because they are a$@(;es with bad ideas. Period and Obama needs to get shit done despite the house crazies. Sully really does not understand America’s lasting love affair with the new deal which has worked to make this country better and the GOP undoing tenets of the new deal has made things worse for more people, not fewer. Gah… Sully can be so friggin myopic

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