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The London Bridge is indeed a marvel of mankind’s’ ingenuity and engineering (first built in 1176 only to still be standing today due to a myriad of renovations over the years). And we certainly do not wish for the London Bridge to fall down as the popular children’s song suggests.
Segue to the magnificent structures that span America’s rivers; bridges carry millions of cars, trucks, trains, pedestrians every day. For some time now, engineers have been noticing the crumbling infrastructure of the bridges around the United States. From the largest most famous bridges (Brooklyn, Tappan Zee, Manhattan) to smaller, yet important to local traffic bridges, (Minneapolis bridge, Greene’s Pollocks Mill Bridge, Brent Spence Bridge, Ambassador Bridge), these structures composed of steel, iron, concrete, and even wood are all starting to fall apart.
In fact, according to the U.S. Government (posted in the Washington Post), more than 70,000 of America’s bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and/or “fracture critical” and it is estimated that it would take at least a generation and cost more than $188 billion in order to restore full infrastructure safety and usability to all of these at-risk bridges.
Take a look at this info-graphic of ‘Structurally Deficient’ bridges throughout the 50 states (Associated Press). Then consider this Bloomberg list of Most Deficient Bridges: States. Read the Chicago Tribune’s Roads, bridges, tunnels should matter to Americans. 60 Minutes recently covered this vital issue; watch the video The Politics of Infrastructure. While not something that we may want to think about every time we drive over a bridge, but take a look at some of these recent news articles covering the failing bridges all over the nation.
Good news – it looks like there is a significant political focus in both political parties, approved by the president, to focus on repairing bridges. Read Barron’s article Infrastructure Repairs: Time for Concrete Action. Federal and State legislatures will have to work hard to negotiate the details for funding and assigning bridge repairs and renovations. The process will take a very long time but the safety of the public needs to be addressed now.