Do we pay attention to roads and bridges now?
Another major collapse, this time in Washington state, should be a wake-up call about investing in the nation's failing infrastructure.
It's pretty miraculous no one died and only a handful of people were injured Thursday night, when the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington state collapsed. Officials are blaming the collapse on an oversize truck that apparently struck one of the bridge's key supports.
But the accident should be a wake-up call that the nation's aging infrastructure -- which recently received an overall grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) -- can no longer be ignored or used as a political football. America's transportation network is too crucial to safety and economic strength.
Let's start with the Skagit River bridge. Data from the National Bridge Inventory notes the span, built in 1955, was evaluated as "functionally obsolete" during its 2010 inspection. That means it had an outdated design not up to current standards. The inventory also said the bridge needed just over $1 million in estimated repairs.
And according to The Associated Press, the ASCE gave Washington state's bridges an overall grade of C-. Even though that's above the national average, it noted that more than 25% of the state's 7,840 bridges were classified as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
What's even more disturbing is the I-5 bridge was in better shape than many major bridges in the U.S. According to Federal Highway Administration records examined by Bloomberg News last year, about 18,000 American bridges are classified as fracture-critical, meaning a failure of one part of the structure would probably cause a portion or the entire bridge to collapse.
Business Insider published a pretty startling graph of public construction spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, and it shows such outlays at the lowest level in decades. No wonder during his State of the Union Address last year, President Barack Obama noted that much of America's infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.
"We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges," he said, "a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small-business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world."
And earlier this year, Obama also announced a three-part plan to encourage private investment in public infrastructure, including $50 billion in investment that would, according to White House.gov, reduce the backlog "of deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports nationwide."
While we wait for that, the collapse of the I-5 bridge will not only inconvenience the tens of thousands of people who use it daily, but it's also disrupting a major freight route between the U.S. and Canada. I-5 is an "artery of commerce and industry for the entire state of Washington," in the words of Governor Jay Inslee.
And here's something else to ponder next time you drive across a major bridge in traffic: We're coming up on the sixth anniversary of the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. That disaster killed 13 people and injured 145 others when the span fell into the Mississippi River. Six years ago, it raised questions about America's infrastructure woes -- which haven't been answered yet and are still making headlines.
Sure, let's invest in the infrastructure. Got any cash?
We can't even have White House tours or let the Navy fly their own jets over their graduation. Obviously we are too broke to take care of anything in our country.
Now if you're in Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Qatar, Syria, Niger, Jordan, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, or the Phillipines, we'll send you all kinds of billions.
Fix a bridge in Washington?!? Nope, too damn expensive.
The money just isn't there.
It was there to build these bridges and roads, but isn't there anymore.
This is also true of the sewer plants, underground water and gas lines and electrical substations.
They all have been neglected for years. Some in my city are 100 years old and water main breaks run rampant during the winter months.
The electrical grid is the most alarming, in my opinion. We are a major transformer malfunction away from chaos. These transformers take years to build, and there ain't any sitting in a warehouse somewhere........
The democrats who slammed Bush for having the wrong priorities in spending when the bridge collapsed in Minnesota 6 years ago are now silent after Obama has wasted even more of our money on even less productive programs since he has been in office.
I should also mention that if we tried to build a bridge like the Brooklyn or Golden Gate we could afford it because unionized labor today.
Excuse me, wasn't this bridge brought down by being hit by an oversized truck that took out supports?
Sorry, we listened to these imbecile democrats and blew through 6+ trillion in infrastructure spending and didn't do squat but reward their campaign contributors.
Before we spend one dime more, we need to FIRE Obama's 29 Czars and their 1200 patronage workers who have done nothing for the last 4 years!
The federal government is promising to help Washington state rebuild a bridge that collapsed after a truck hauling an oversized load of drilling equipment hit an overhead girder on the major interstate between Seattle and Canada.
Lets remove all of the guardrails while we're at it. Seems cars keep running into them.
Yes the Bridge was brought down by an Accident of an oversized load....
Not by bridge or structure failure..
I would assumed a trucking company, driver or insurance company; Is on the hook or should be ??
What we are spending on Two Wars per year, even though One is winding down....
Will build one hell of lot of Bridges..
And the Defense, bungle on the F-35s(sp), should put in a few miles of highways...
I even heard/read that that Airforce or Navy....Didn't really need or want them..??
In 2003, the Defense Department Controller General stated that the Pentagon couldn't account for a trillion in spending.
This just the Defense side of things, guess how much they were wasting elsewhere. Guess how much money they gave away to Big Oil.
But they can't find money to fix our roads and bridges. They couldn't find time to investigate Bush and Company but lately,surprise surprise, their only focus is waste and corruption. Where was that focus during the corrupt Bush years.
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