I know what I know

As the presidential race heats up, Republican candidate Mitt Romney needs to inform us on how he will tend to the needs of the road and bridge industry

Blog Entry August 13, 2012

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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I do not know a lot about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. I do know a lot about Boston's Big Dig project, which means I probably know more about Romney than I think.

 

OK, this ramble has quickly turned confusing. As some of you know, Romney was the governor of Massachusetts during the tail end of the Big Dig project. He was in charge when a partial ceiling collapse in one of the tunnels killed Milena del Valle. According to Jerry Markon, a writer for The Washington Post, Romney was furious when he saw Matthew Amorello, who was the lead man of the Massachusetss Turnpike Authority at the time, ignore his immediate request for a meeting and instead saw Amorello conduct a press conference at the site. Romney and the MTA chief had been at odds for years. In fact, the Massachusetts governor came right out and said Amorello was not qualified to hold his position. Romney tried multiple times to encourage the hiring of someone new, but Amorello had too many politicians in his back pocket, and the governor's office was powerless when it came to making changes within the MTA. Amorello was eventually forced out, and Romney did invoke a provision in state law permitting the removal of a public official for cause.

 

Romney's overall track record with the Big Dig, however, has been spotty and confusing. Some say he could have done more and did not have a whole lot of follow through. Others, however, believe his handling of the infrastructure mess was one of his finest hours.

 

I know something about Romney, but I do need to be filled in on some of the highlights of his platform. He has said little about the need for infrastructure improvements in the U.S., but perhaps that will come later--when he goes head to head with President Barack Obama in a trifecta of debates. Obama, as all of you know, quite possibly set a record in the number of times a candidate and president mentioned "highways, bridges and the need for improvement" during his tenure. But what has come out of all of the talk? A stimulus bill that left the market under-funded, a TIGER grant program controlled by the manipulative hands of the U.S. DOT and a new highway bill that falls far short in the areas of length and amount of funding. I know a lot about Obama, but I also know a lot about a Congress that has probably set a record in the number of stalled actions or bills over the last couple of years.

 

This is turning confusing again, but I am asking for your input in how you think the federal government will be shaped in three months. On Tuesday, you will receive our 2012 Election Survey, and I am asking you to take it with a clear mind and without prejudice. Our intent is to provide the readers with a sense of where this country is headed. In other words, we want them to be in the know.

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