The $3 Billion Fixer-Upper

1217951919Yesterday’s scene on the banks of the Esplanade was almost perfect. Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill that will dedicate $3 billion over eight years to fix 300 of the state’s most dilapidated bridges. He did so in sight of the most notoriously crumbly of span of them all, the Longfellow Bridge, as a Red Line train crept across.

The only thing that could have underscored the point better is if a chunk of the bridge splashed into the Charles as Patrick talked about the legacy of neglect.

But his remarks did get us thinking.

“We have been lulled into a false sense that all we have to do in this country is build highway systems and bridges, and then they’ll take care of themselves ever after. They don’t.”

You know, governor, some of the world’s best schools are right in your own backyard. Maybe it’s time to get the geniuses at MIT working on the self-repairing highway system. If the maintenance costs were built into the price of a big public project, voters would be more forgiving when the state doles out tens of billions of dollars to build them.

Photo from Mass Highway Department web site