Border walls and Minnesota bridges.

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I was eating lunch at Beefaroo yesterday in Rockford, Illinois.


After discussing the pros and cons of naming a restaurant Beefaroo, the Red Angle intern and I got on the subject of her home state of Minnesota.


You know that Minnesota bridge that collapsed in 2007?


Sure.” I said.


A smaller bridge near my home was much worse. It took them another 2 years to do something about it. Yeah… thanks a lot Minnesota.


It’s not just Minnesota.


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that over 10% of all U.S. bridges are structurally deficient.

With 607,380 bridges in the U.S. (a count inevitably tallied by an ASCE intern), that’s 66,812 about-to-break bridges.


Is it me… or does that sound like a lot?


To solve the bridge problem by 2028, the ASCE recommends an annual investment of over $20B.


What is currently being invested?



For those scoring at home, that’s 38% less than the recommended allowance.



Two thoughts here….




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Failing bridges of this magnitude demands decisive action.

Why are we trying to address this puente problem by 2028?


What’s the over/under on how many people will die from bridge collapses in the next 15 years?






I’ll get the oddsmakers at Vegas on this right away…


FDR faced similar economic issues.

My guess is he’d put the country to work and fix these bridges in 3 years.




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$20B appears to be a large sum.


And it is, for a slick CEO or a really tall clown like Dwight Howard.






But for bridge repairs?

It’s a mere 0.53% of the federal government’s expenses this year.


In Fortune magazine this month, Sheila Blair noted “the only infrastructure spending Congress seems inclined to authorize is $30 billion to build and man hundreds of miles of fence along our Mexican border.




$30B on border control when net migration is zero (or negative) while repairing deficient bridges is 38% – or $7.8B – underfunded… and will take another 15 years to fix the bad bridge backlog.



Net Migration is Zero.



Over the past few years, there have been more undocumented Hispanics heading out than coming in.

Many couldn’t find jobs in the US and went elsewhere. A huge number were deported.


Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News recently reported on the “torrid pace of deportations.”

The Obama administration deported 1.5M Mexicans in his first term.


In 2012 alone, there were 409,849 deportations of undocumented immigrants, roughly 34,000 per month.




We need to use our heads here.

We need to be rational in our thinking when Washington isn’t.


We need to fix our bridges stat, which will also help put thousands back to work.


We need to quit spending money on border infrastructure. Several decades of experience have proven immigrant resolve for a better life trumps governmental employees with dogs and flashlights.


At Red Angle we speak to our Clients a lot about choosing to build bridges instead of walls when leading and managing Hispanics. These are metaphors.


Given the infrastructure tradeoffs we’re making, we can speak literally as well: we should choose to build bridges instead of walls.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry. 

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