By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

You go first, Mr. Cohen

Don’t you feel completely reassured now that the state has told us the feds are wrong about the Zakim Bridge‘s being on the verge of collapse?

OK, I exaggerate — but not by nearly as much, I suspect, as state transportation secretary Bernard Cohen was when he told the Globe’s Scott Allen, “It is not a safety issue, but rather a defect associated with the installation.”

Of course, the loose bolts in the tunnel were not a safety issue unless you happened to be driving through it when one of them let go.

This is exactly the kind of story that can have a far bigger impact now, following the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis, than it normally would. Bridge- and road-safety stories can have a quality of abstractness to them unless readers have a clear picture in their minds of people plunging to their death.

I assume — I hope — that the Globe is going to keep hammering away at this. No doubt Cohen and his boss, Gov. Deval Patrick, are freaking out at the prospect of another multizillion-dollar repair job. But people will have to understand that it wasn’t the Patrick administration who oversaw this shoddy project, and that it’s worth any price to prevent what happened in Minneapolis from happening here.

Yesterday, the Outraged Liberal argued for a higher gas tax instead of an increase in tolls. Unfortunately, we may need both. As well as lawsuits against the responsible contractors from here to eternity.

Photo of Zakim Bridge (cc) by Ron’s Log. Some rights reserved.

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Debating the debates


  1. Rick

    Yes Yes Yes Just what we need in this state, more taxes. The liberal mind is an amazing thing. We should raise the cost of living here to the point that only the editorial staff of the Boston Globe and a few tenured professorsare left.

  2. Anonymous

    It’s the part right after your Cohen quote that scares me. Here’s the excerpt from today’s Globe:”It is not a safety issue, but rather a defect associated with the installation,” said Bernard Cohen, the state transportation secretary and chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which maintains the bridge over the Charles River.However, the warping was not seen in the state’s 2005 inspection of the bridge or during quality checks before the span opened in 2003, according to the federal report. The report said a construction flaw should have been identified in those earlier inspections, suggesting that the warping might have occurred later.

  3. Ed P.

    ummmm… hey, Rick? The bridge is broken. It costs money to fix.

  4. Anonymous

    ed p. – I know, right? Why do those who constantly sing the praises of capitalism so often fail to grasp the simple fact that THINGS COST MONEY????

  5. Rick

    Hey Ed If it’s broke make the company that built it pay.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: You’ve got to fix it now. Getting the money out of the contractor(s) will take years. And we all know that it’s virtually impossible to squeeze more than a few cents on the dollar out of these companies, often because they go bankrupt.

  7. Rick

    Dan Are you saying to fix a bridge you are willing to raise gas taxes and tolls? Knowing that those taxes and tolls are never going to come down once the bridge is fixed? You must have money to burn or just think differently than me.

  8. Rick in Duxbury

    An out-of-state friend remarked yesterday:”So what you have in Boston is basically New Orleans without the fun, right?” (not the Rick above)

  9. Kim

    We could start by not giving anymore state business (of any kind) to the contractor until things are straightened out instead of continuing to fill their pockets as the tax payers pick up the cost of crappie job.

  10. Anonymous

    Dan states we need both tolls and higher gas taxes – WOW, I thought he was smart! 1st tolls: stopping at a booth to pay some person, real smart way to collect revenue. the State just told us that we are 26 billion in debt due to pensions and healthcare obligations for state workers and Dan wants to keep this lunacy in business. If a private corporation boasted about un-funded future obligations to workers Dan would have a fit. We need to tear down the tolls. Shutter the give away programs the state offers and you’ll have plenty to take care of roads and bridges. 2nd Any state or local worker that is hired from this poitn forward will no longer have pension/healthcare. A 401K prgram will suffice until the books are balanced. Higher gas taxes will add to the list of reasons why young professionals will want to live elsewhere. Someday we will have a state comprised of state workers, union workers, illeagal immigrants, and luny liberals. N o way to run a state.

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