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Published: Friday, 1/28/2011

Bridges in county's care are safe

The Jan. 23 editorial cartoon by Kirk Walters pointing out that eight bridges in Lucas County were reported to be in poor condition, may have raised concerns about the safety.

Lucas County maintains bridges on county and township roads outside municipalities. The bridges are inspected annually by a professional engineer who is trained in bridge inspection and design.

As bridges age, you would expect some deterioration. A poor rating does not mean that a bridge is unsafe, but it is an indication that repair or replacement will likely be required within the not-too-distant future.

Thousands of bridges in the state are still open to traffic with a condition rating of serious, or worse yet, critical, but we have none. The average county has 28 bridges posted for reduced load limits, while we have none. There are 20 bridges rated in poor condition inside Lucas County municipalities, and 87 in Wood County are rated poor or worse.

After the 2007 collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, additional structural analysis has been required to determine the load-carrying capacity of bridges, not only when they are designed but after various stages of deterioration.

Lucas County is way ahead of schedule on this analysis, and was the second county in Ohio to go through quality assurance review. This should provide further assurance that all bridges maintained by Lucas County are safe.

The overall condition of our roads and bridges, including township-maintained roads and most municipal-maintained roads in Lucas County, is a good reason to move here, not a reason to move away, as the cartoon suggests.

Keith Earley

Lucas County Engineer

Toledo

President Obama's State of the Union speech was challenging, encouraging, and built on cooperation between political parties and between the President and Congress (“Obama details plan to “win the future,” Jan. 26).

Was this simply a display of pie-in-the-sky rhetoric, or does he really believe that urgent matters such as the deficit can be dealt with successfully?

Strong statements made before have not brought the results he promised. Guantanamo prison is still open, earmarks are still in the budget, the wealthy still have their Bush tax cuts, and we still have 48,000 troops in Iraq. Revenue can be saved if troops come home from Afghanistan this year as promised. The President might also want to consider reducing our military presence in Germany, South Korea, Okinawa, and many other places worldwide.

Will he be able to reduce federal subsidies to oil companies? What about agricultural subsidies? If the President really wants to cut the deficit, he will need to hang tough with Congress to reduce big-ticket items such as the military, agriculture, and earmarked local projects.

It remains to be seen whether he can mobilize the cooperation he promoted in the State of the Union address, and get down to the specifics of budget reduction. Americans hope he succeeds.

Edward J. Nussel

Glaston Oaks Court

In the State of the Union address, President Obama called on Americans to “unleash their creative spirits, set aside their partisan differences, and come together around a common goal of outcompeting other nations in a rapidly shifting global economy.”

Americans have been ready for his proposals, his plan to “win the future.”

The time for talk is over. Make some tough decisions. Unfunded government pensions need to be cut. Fully paid government health care needs to change. Every city, state, and federal employee should contribute to and/or purchase his or her health care. Government pensions could be more in line with Social Security benefits.

When this country controls its spending, large-scale initiatives in education, infrastructure, and energy will be better received and possible.

Mr. Obama continues to be positive and a cheerleader for the economy. Action speaks louder than words. His choice to keep President Bush's tax cuts have affected the stock market.

Get out of the way and let the free market do its thing. We'll all benefit.

John Wieck

Pinestead Road

In a Jan. 26 speech in Manitowoc, Wis., when President Obama was speaking about our economic status and the need to create more jobs, he said other countries are “gunning” for us economically.

Does this mean they have us in their cross-hair sights?

William Nichols

Whitehouse

Why, when Social Security has a $45 billion deficit, have our lawmakers decreased Social Security payroll taxes by 2 percentage points for one year? This lost 2 percent will be made up by the general fund by adding to our annual deficit.

Susan Bones

Holland

Bob Herbert has our heartfelt thanks for his excellent Jan. 27 op-ed column, “Raising false alarms about Social Security.”

We are in the middle class because of Social Security, as are a lot of other seniors.

Rex and Charlotte Bradeen

Temperance

I along with many other seniors, hope that Blade readers didn't read only the Jan. 27 page-one article “Social Security: Report warns benefits may be cut by '37,” but also read Bob Herbert's column.

I hope too that Congress and the Obama Administration listen to both viewpoints.

Jim Richard

Sylvania

Your assertion that there simply aren't that many Ohioans who would have an estate subject to Ohio's estate tax or otherwise are concerned about the tax is objectively false (“Keep the estate tax,” editorial, Jan. 26).

As people retire, they often have a lifestyle that allows them to establish residency in Ohio or in another state. Ohio's uncompetitive tax structure often influences a decision to establish a residency outside of Ohio. The Buckeye State loses when persons with capital move away and take their spending dollars to other states.

Unfortunately, Ohio's tax structure encourages retirees to establish residency out of Ohio. States such as Florida heavily advertise their tax advantages to retired persons in an effort to attract capital and spending dollars.

Why pay Ohio's “modest” 6 percent and 7 percent tax when you can move and use estate and other tax savings to save a considerable amount of money for retirement or your heirs?

To many, it is distasteful that Ohio taxes assets at death that have already been subjected to income and capital gains tax, especially when most other states, including Michigan and Florida, do not. The late U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum is the most prominent example of an Ohioan who moved away for tax reasons.

Ohio is in competition with other states for capital and for new manufacturing jobs. The state is losing capital because of an uncompetitive tax structure and losing manufacturing jobs because of uncompetitive laws and costs of doing business.

Gov. John Kasich appears to be attempting to make Ohio competitive with other states, in an effort to try to keep capital and create jobs.

George K. Reiser

Barrington Drive



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