Bridge walks (and similar events) as a way to highlight the need for infrastructure investing?
Most people don't think about what we might call the new lost decade, although this time the loss is over the failure to invest in infrastructure--bridges, local transit, railroads, sustainable mobility--when interest rates have been so low and when so much of the country's transportation infrastructure is showing its age and needs to be repaired and/or replaced.
-- Report Card for America's Infrastructure, American Society of Civil Engineers
-- Bridge Inventory, Better Roads Magazine
-- "States, Localities Are Failing to Seize Their Infrastructure Moment," Governing Magazine
For almost 60 years, there has been an annual pedestrian walk across the Mackinac Bridge which links Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, as shown in this Associated Press photo. It's the only time each year that pedestrians are allowed on bridges.
Walkers cross the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge during the Labor Day walk, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, during the 57th annual event in Mackinaw City, Mich. Lead by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, thousands cross from the upper peninsula of Michigan to the lower peninsula, the only day pedestrians are allowed on the span. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)
These kinds of events are opportunities to push infrastructure issues higher up on the policy agenda, to leverage the publicity associated with them, and to educate the participants on the issues.
Although many states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Michigan, have been addressing transportation infrastructure needs in the past couple years by introducing new financing plans and priorities--although I argue that many of the funding streams for the programs have been poorly chosen, using general funding sources instead of increasing fuel taxes.
Even so most of these programs aren't balanced, favoring roads and motor vehicle traffic over other modes. For example, Pennsylvania bicycle advocates are "ecstatic" at having a seat at the table, because bicycling infrastructure investment commitments were built into their plan. However, the amount of money actually committed ($2,5 million) is one-one thousandth of the total financing plan of $2.5 billion.
Although we must note that Pennsylvania does spend much more than that annually on bicycle and pedestrian projects.