With collapses in both Washington State and Missouri, many are left concerned with the safety, durability, and potential hazards of bridge and overpass construction. Although many are saying that we shouldn't be worried, a time for concern may be close at hand.
The bridge collapse in Washington State, which sent cars and drivers careening into the Skagit River, was caused by a truck crash impacting several girders, collpasing the steel truss bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1955, is now being targeted by lawmakers in Washginton D.C as an example of our declining infrastructure.
The bridge collapse in Missouri was triggered after two freight trains collided this past Saturday morning, causing structural damage to the bridge's support pillars. The crash, coming just a week after a commuter train derailment in Connecticut, has many concerned that our transportation system is literally crumbling before our eyes.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases an annual report card of safety and bridge maintenance. This past annual term America received a meager grade of C+. Although considered a passing grade by the ASCE, it is certainly not good enough to keep our infrastructure stable and our citizens unharmed. The ASCE estimates that one out of every nine bridges in the United States is structurally deficient.
Politicians widely turn their backs on the issue of generating further tax revenue for bridge upkeep, and the American public is seems to agree. Most Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, are not in favor of any tax increases to fund or maintain our nation’s bridges and overpasses.
President Obama recently spoke out regarding infastructure improvements, stating: "The problem is we've had some trouble out of Congress just going ahead and funding," during a speech last week in Baltimore, Maryland.
So what is there to be done?
It is important that we as a nation mobilize to ensure our infrastructure remains stable. Although no one wants to raise taxes, when it is on something as vital as our road and bridge systems, it’s a concern for us all. Voice your opinion, and let your state representative know its important to you. Its up to us to keep our roads and bridges safe.