Washington, D.C. (Law Firm Newswire) August 27, 2013 — A safety advocacy organization recently released a report showing one-in-nine bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient.
According to an analysis of federal data by Transportation for America, nearly 67,000 of America’s 605,000 bridges require substantial repair or replacement. The report, titled “The Fix We’re In For: The State of the Nation’s Bridges 2013,” said 260 million vehicles pass over deficient bridges each day.
“We need to make the maintenance and safety of our infrastructure a priority again in America,” said Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney David Lietz.
The report says that almost 8,000 bridges are not just structurally deficient, but also “fracture critical.” This means that they were built with no redundancy in their key structural parts. If one of those components fails, the bridge could collapse.
Transportation for America ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the percentage of their bridges that are deficient. Pennsylvania ranked the worst, with 24.5 percent, followed by Oklahoma (22.0 percent), Iowa (21.7 percent), Rhode Island (21.6 percent), and South Dakota (20.3 percent).
The report also called attention to the progress some states have made in repairing their bridges in recent years. Missouri has reduced the number of deficient bridges by over 15 percent since 2011.
That state was spurred to action by disaster. In 2007, the Interstate 35W Bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the evening rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge had been deemed structurally deficient. Missouri is halfway through a decade-long, $2.5 billion campaign to repair 172 of the state’s worst bridges.
“It’s too common to see governments get serious about safety only after a disaster,” added Lietz. “But that’s not how we should get this done. It’s by no means outside our capability to make every bridge in this country safe and structurally sound.”
It would cost approximately $76 billion to eliminate the nation’s backlog of troubled bridges, according to the Federal Highway Administration. In most states, gasoline taxes are an important source of funds for bridge maintenance, and states with low gas taxes often have high rates of bridge deficiency. Oklahoma, the second-ranked state in bridge deficiency, and Missouri both have among the lowest gas tax rates in the nation.
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