Hosey: Take a chance on one bridge to build another

People love to gamble. You just have to look at the slot parlors all over town and the way gas stations are supposedly falling over each other to get gambling machines to know that’s true.

The demand for gambling, and not just any kind of gambling but what might be the most inane, mindless sort of action in existence, must be overwhelming. How else can you explain all the aspiring entrepreneurs clamoring to get into the video gaming business?

Another thing everyone loves is money, although obviously not as much as gambling, or else you wouldn’t have so many flushing their cash away in video gaming machines.

Money may not be as great as gambling, but it still comes in handy. Especially when your bridges keep breaking down and it gets harder and harder to get where you want to go on the other side of the river. The Jefferson Street bridge, likely the most important of the five downtown drawbridges and the gateway to the city center from the west side, for example, has been out of commission for nearly a year and three months.

Then there’s the Interstate 80 bridge which, while technically open to traffic, is a veritable death trap and liable to collapse into the water at any moment, if you’re willing to believe the billboards Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers paid for some years ago. Those billboards are gone now and it’s true the I-80 bridge is still standing, but for how long?

And of course there’s Brandon Road bridge to the south of downtown that finally reopened in April after it was inoperable for more than a year, only for it to fall back into disrepair.

This time, they got the Brandon Road bridge fixed in a matter of days, but let’s see how long this lasts. And that’s exactly where there’s the opportunity to make so much money, maybe enough to build a whole new Jefferson Street bridge, and you wouldn’t even need a gambling machine to do it.

This idea for an entirely new Jefferson Street bridge belongs to City Manager Jim Capparelli, and it’s a stroke of genius.

“We should have a new bridge here by now,” Capparelli said. “So I want to let you know that I’m going to strenuously leave no stone unturned trying to get a bridge built across that river. We really need to have that happen. So that’s my major concern right now.”

Capparelli said this back in March. But even after strenuously turning over who knows how many stones, he still hasn’t gotten a new bridge built across that river.

Could it be about the money? If so, that’s where the Brandon Road bridge comes in. The city needs to do nothing more than set up an online lottery on how the bridge is doing each day.

For a modest fee, perhaps a dollar, players could buy a chance to win the big prize by betting that the next day will be the day the bridge at last reopens, or in the unlikely event that it’s already open, that on that day it will break down once again.

If someone had the foresight to put this plan in place when the Brandon Road bridge closed down back in January 2020, the city could have collected about 450 days of money from all the losers before it opened again. Just think of the beautiful new bridge Capparelli could have built with cash like that, and he wouldn’t even have had to turn over a single stone.

• Joe Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at jhosey@shawmedia.com or on Twitter @JoeHosey.

Joseph Hosey

Joseph Hosey

Joe Hosey became editor of The Herald-News in 2018. As a reporter, he covered the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and criminal investigation of her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson. He was the 2015 Illinois Journalist of the Year and 2014 National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award winner.