Neglected Bridges: The Hidden Dangers We Ignore

Neglected Bridges: The Hidden Dangers We Ignore

Neglected Bridges: The Hidden Dangers We Ignore

Bridges are an integral part of our transportation infrastructure, connecting communities and enabling the movement of goods and people. Yet, many bridges in the United States are neglected and at risk of collapse. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, over 46,000 bridges in the country are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration or damage that requires repair or replacement.

The consequences of neglecting these bridges can be catastrophic. In 2018, a bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy killed 43 people and destroyed homes beneath it. In 2007, a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour traffic, killing 13 people and injuring another 145.

Despite these tragedies, many politicians continue to prioritize other projects over bridge maintenance and repair. This lack of attention has left many Americans vulnerable to potential disasters.

One such example is the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. Built in 1963, this double-decker steel truss bridge carries more than $1 billion worth of freight every day between Ohio and Kentucky. It’s also considered one of the most dangerous bridges in America due to its narrow lanes and outdated design.

In November 2020, a truck caught fire on the bridge causing significant damage to its upper deck. The incident raised concerns about the safety of the bridge while also highlighting its vulnerability due to a lack of investment for maintenance and upgrades.

Another example is New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge which was completed over 138 years ago but continues to serve as a vital artery for commuters between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Despite being designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1964 – making it part-renowned tourist attraction – it has struggled with structural issues including corrosion on cables that hold up its iconic towers.

While both examples highlight specific cases where immediate action is required before disaster strikes, the neglected bridges in question are not limited to these. With over 46,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country, the potential for tragedy is vast.

The root of this neglect stems from a lack of funding and political will. ASCE estimates that it would cost $125 billion to repair all of America’s structurally deficient bridges – a sum that many politicians are unwilling to allocate when there are other pressing issues competing for resources.

Furthermore, many states have their own budget constraints which can make it difficult for them to prioritize bridge maintenance on top of other necessary projects such as schools and hospitals.

However, experts warn that delaying repairs or maintenance only increases costs in the long run. One study found that every dollar spent on bridge maintenance saves five dollars in future repairs.

Moreover, investing in infrastructure has been shown to stimulate economic growth by creating jobs and improving productivity. According to ASCE’s 2017 Economic Impact Study, if America were to invest an additional $1 trillion into infrastructure between 2016 and 2025, it would create more than 11 million jobs while also increasing GDP by $1.2 trillion.

It is time for our leaders at all levels – federal, state and local – to recognize the importance of maintaining our infrastructure before disaster strikes. We cannot afford another tragedy like what happened in Minneapolis or Italy due to inadequate investment in our nation’s transportation systems

To address the issue head-on requires both increased funding and better management practices through expanding public-private partnerships (PPP). PPPs allow private entities like banks or corporations access financing opportunities while providing incentives such as tax credits or government subsidies so they can help fund improvements without taking away from existing budgets allocated by governments themselves.

Investing heavily now may seem daunting but with every year we wait, risk compounds exponentially especially since natural disasters continue causing structural damage throughout lands where critical infrastructure stands—floods wash out roads; hurricanes rip apart buildings; earthquakes shake bridges, and so on.

In conclusion, our nation’s infrastructure is in dire need of attention. Bridges are just one example of the many neglected pieces of infrastructure that require repair and maintenance to ensure safety and functionality. Investing in infrastructure not only saves lives but also creates jobs and drives economic growth. It’s time for our leaders to prioritize these critical investments before it’s too late.

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