Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Would you buy this...
. . . .

Would you buy this bridge

Robert Downes - November 1st, 2010
Would You Buy This Bridge?
Anyone interested in buying the Mackinac Bridge? It’s perfect for the
person who has everything, or that ‘hard to shop for’ person on your
Christmas list.
There was a flurry of manufactured outrage over an alleged plan to
sell the Mighty Mac last week to help patch the state’s $1.6 billion
budget hole. The idea seems about as likely to happen as selling 40
acres and a mule to homesteaders on the moon, but it’s worth passing
on.
Then-candidate for governor Rick Snyder said his comments about
privatizing Michigan’s assets had been mangled by a columnist at the
Detroit News and he had no plans to sell the Mackinac Bridge if
elected. But opponent Virg Bernero seized on the gaff and held a “Save
the Bridge” rally in St. Ignace.
Outgoing U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak piled on, wondering what else Snyder
might consider privatizing, adding that selling old Macky would be
“totally unacceptable.”
“The Mackinac Bridge is a true symbol of Michigan, recognized
throughout the world. It belongs to the people of Michigan. To
attempt to sell the bridge to a private company would only lead to
increased tolls on residents and tourists,” Stupak said in a release.
“Given Mr. Snyder’s recent comments regarding the privatization of
essential public services, who knows what other important Michigan
resources Mr. Snyder would be willing to sell-off, perhaps our Great
Lakes water?”
The idea of selling the Mackinac Bridge isn’t completely crazy; there
is a precedent: In 1971, the 140-year-old London Bridge over the
Thames River was dismantled, packed on ships and carted off to Lake
Havasu, Arizona, where it stands today, inspiring legions of retirees
in pontoon boats. If something that odd could happen 40 years ago,
then anything is possible.
But it seems rather unlikely that we could sell the Mackinac Bridge
even if we were so inclined. The present toll of $3.50 per car barely
pays for repainting the five-mile bridge and replacing its decks each
year. Many of us trolls and yoopers would just stay home and refuse to
pay if a new owner decided to up the rates.
But let’s suppose you could find some oligarch in Russia with money to
burn, or we sold the bridge to China, Inc. For starters, these suckers
probably wouldn’t live long enough to see a return on their
investment.
Built 53 years ago, the Mackinac Bridge was financed with $100 million
in bonds, which took approximately 30 years to pay off. But we
wouldn’t ask for a mere $100 million this time around. Ten years ago,
it was estimated that it would cost $400 million to replace the
bridge, but that seems light in the loafers. And with sentimental
value added in and view property being what it is these days on Lake
Michigan -- come on -- we’d surely want at least $10 billion.
But then we’d run the risk of someone buying the
Stitcher-of-the-Straits for scrap metal. After all, it contains
94,500 tons of steel, which might be easily transported down the St.
Lawrence Seaway, to be used for building new cars in Japan.
But it would be tough to disassemble: David Steinman, the engineer who
built the Mackinac Bridge, claimed that it could stand up to winds of
365 miles per hour and would likely outlast the pyramids of Egypt.
So let’s forget the whole thing and consider some other privatization
schemes as Michigan edges into this bold new world of reinventing
itself. After all, we’re already selling our groundwater to Nestle,
Inc., and this trend seems likely to continue:
• We could sell one-minute ‘ownerships’ of the bridge to tourists at
$10 a pop with a certificate that’s suitable for framing, along with a
discount coupon for rubber tomahawks and toy muskets at Mackinaw City
souvenir shops.
• Sell our freeways to the sheiks of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, who are
“good to the last drop” in their vested interest in keeping cars on
the road.
• Perhaps the Michigan Education Association would be interested in
buying the Michigan Lottery? Some claim that’s where the lottery’s
education bucks go anyway.
• The Chinese worked miracles creating the free trade city of
Shenzhen. It has become one of the wealthiest cities in Asia since its
humble beginnings in the 1970s. Maybe they’d take on a baker’s dozen
of depressed Michigan cities as fixer-uppers if the price were right:
Detroit, Flint, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Benton Harbor...
• We could also sell the State Legislature if it weren’t for
unsubstantiated claims that it’s already been bought and paid for.

Correction: Northern Express inadvertently ran a photograph in last
week‘s Bottoms Up column that was copyrighted by the Traverse City
Record-Eagle.

 
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