Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, January 27, 2020

ANOTHER VIEW Infrastructure improvement should be a top priority

Thursday, December 13, 2012 by The Press in Opinion

The railroad bridge collapse in the West Deptford area of New Jersey Nov. 30 should be a wake up call to fix our area's crumbling infrastructure.

As we all know, procrastination can be a dangerous thing.

This spill of vinyl chloride, a toxic chemical, into a feeder creek of the Delaware River has the potential to kill wildlife and taint a delicate ecosystem still recovering from the consequences of our country's industrial revolution.

I have taken the time to view many bridges and roadways in the state through the past year. There is something about riding a bicycle on the D&L Trail that makes you stop to view each of the passages over the river.

Just a couple of short weeks ago, my uncle and I were sitting under an old train bridge eating lunch as we took a spell at the fork of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers. This old bridge and the sparkling sun reflecting on the water was our treat after completing our mission of filling in the trail from White Haven to Easton.

Surprised would be an understatement to describe what we felt as we looked up to see a train inch over the narrow single-lane railroad bridge with uneven ties and layers of rust earned over generations of use.

I asked myself what would happen if the bridge collapsed from the weight.

I knew I would have been a pancake but what would the consequences be for this river system I had grown to love through my travels.

My heart sank as the fear I had that day turned into reality Friday morning.

This toxic chemical used to make plastics like PVC piping seeped into the water from a few toppled tanker cars.

I am thankful no people were injured and this was a cargo crossing but we need to wake up and see that this problem is here and now.

We don't know the ultimate consequences from this spill.

Will it effect the spring migration of the shad which use the Delaware River as their personal highway to their breeding grounds as they travel from the ocean?

Will the bald eagle I saw soaring over the Lehigh River find a new place to hunt?

I hope the impact is limited and contained and I suspect the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities will do a great job in cleaning the spill.

We simply need to do more to prevent these things from happening.

We have beautiful natural resources around us and we should not put them in jeopardy by transporting harsh chemicals over rickety bridges.

Let's get them fixed one by one so we can be confident we will not do more damage or get someone killed.

It only takes one bad bridge to create a catastrophe.

Tyler D. Martin

editorial assistant

East Penn Press

Salisbury Press