The recent bridge collapse in Seattle has shed light on a serious issue when it comes to the aging of the infrastructure in our nation. According to Bloomberg, there are 607,380 bridges in the United States – and on average these structures are 42 years of age.
Bloomberg also reported that according to the American Society of Civil Engineers – 11% of those bridges are considered to be “structurally deficient.” Bridge maintenance is being done, but a lack of funds has prevented them from being replaced or reenforced as needed.
An engineer group gave the United States’ infrastructure a D+ rating this year – bridges (scoring a little higher overall) were rated at a C+. According to the same engineering group, the cost of fixing the deficient structures is estimated at a lofty $76 billion dollars.
A whooping 80 percent of the funds used to repair highways come from a fuel-tax federal Highway Trust Fund – the current levy on gasoline has been 18.4 cents since 1993. Since that time, fuel sales have slowed due to greater efficiency in vehicles and a national average of fewer miles driven overall. According to Janet Kavinoky, the executive director for transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ““If we keep on the same trend line of investment, where we’re not increasing investment, we are going to have to worry in the future.”
To say the least, this issue is troubling. Earlier this week, TIME named the 10 Most Troubled Structures in America. Although efforts have been made in terms of President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package. This package expended $48.1 billion on efforts involving highway and transit projects – but didn’t accomplish much in terms of long-term bridge improvements.