Letters: Our national infrastructure is crumbling and needs investment

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Structural engineers, through the American Society of Civil Engineers, have confirmed the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling: 43% of roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. Of more than 617,000 bridges across the nation, 42% are at least 50 years old, and 7.5% are in poor condition.

Illinois’ condition ratings are lagging behind as well, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s ratings, with about 61% of interstates in good condition — below the 2022 target of 65%. Less than 25% of the pavement in our noninterstate National Highway System is in good condition.

Just spend time driving on our major interstates and roadways here, and you will feel the impact of many years of underfunding. Illinois is working to improve conditions through the 2019 capital program, which we helped champion, but we cannot do this alone.

Republicans and Democrats agree a strong transportation network is critical to our nation’s success, and it will be vital to our recovery from the pandemic. Without a federal plan to support and strengthen these networks, and a sustainable way to pay for them, how can we leave it to each state to figure it out?

Chapman is right that COVID-19 creates uncertainty about what is in store for us next. But now is not the time to pull back on investing in our future. Getting goods and services to doorsteps during this time puts new demands on our infrastructure and creates even more need for national solutions.

We all want safe, efficient ways to get to work, support our businesses and come home to our families. We call on Congress to embrace a federal infrastructure program that puts our nation back on track to move forward after this devastating pandemic.

— Kevin Burke and Patrick Hosty, co-chairs, Transportation for Illinois Coalition, Springfield

As a 59-year-old white woman who has been working from home for over a year, I have been happy to wait my turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a public health worker, I have fully supported the mayor and city health commissioner’s equity approach to vaccine distribution.

The racial health disparities that plague Chicago’s communities have, with COVID-19, become impossible to ignore any longer. The need is great, the approach is good and my wait is understandable.

What is not OK, however, is the misappropriation of these much-needed vaccine doses by a safety-net provider, Loretto Hospital, which is in one of Chicago’s neediest communities. While hospital executives claimed to have been confused about prioritization, I cannot imagine under what scenario they would think that judges, their spouses and suburban churchgoers should be placed ahead of low-income residents of color.

The Loretto Hospital board should fire its executive leadership and find people more committed to equity and the communities the hospital serves.

The Chicago Tribune publishes letters from readers reflecting their thoughts on news and Tribune content. Letters reflect the views of the authors and not necessarily the Chicago Tribune.

In 2019, a suburban newspaper printed my letter to the editor with the headline “Only now do I feel unsafe in my hometown.” My letter mentioned that Tammy Duckworth was booed in 2006 when she participated in Wheaton’s Fourth of July Parade. I’d presumed then that it was because she was a woman or a Democrat. It didn’t occur to me then that some of those folks might have been booing because she is Asian.

Like Duckworth, I am Amerasian. I have lived in my adopted hometown for almost 50 years. I’d never felt discriminated against — until our amoral president began blaming the pandemic on China.

While I was walking in the forest preserve in November, a mother, with her young children and her unleashed dog, flashed a white power hand signal at me. Her hateful image and her charging dog remain in my phone camera as a fearsome reminder to wear sunglasses over my Asian eyes.

Now that we have an empathetic, competent president, let’s hope intolerance and hatred will slink back into hiding, and all people of color can feel safer in their hometowns.

After the spa killings in Atlanta, we do what we always do after tragedies like this. Obsessively analyze the mental state and motivation of the killer, which accomplishes nothing. We ignore the real problem: easy access to guns by people who intend to kill.

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March 22, 2021 at 10:01PM

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