Five years ago in 2008 the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed and tragically 13 people were killed and injured 145. The bridge had previously been classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair. The incident led to a renewed focus to make our nation’s bridges safer. On Thursday a portion of the I-5 bridge in Mount Vernon, Washington collapsed submerging cars and people into the water, further highlighting the need for investment into our nation’s infrastructure.
A report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) found that one in nine bridges in the U.S. is rated as structurally deficient. The average age of bridges in the United States is 42 years old, while some bridges might last longer than others with retrofitting and repairs. Many bridges were not designed to handle the volume of traffic driven over them today and need to be replaced.
When I drive over a bridge I don’t want to wonder if the bridge I’m driving over is safe. Congress must put politics aside and approve funding to improve our nation’s infrastructure. The good news is technology is coming to our aid, with monitoring systems being embedded into new bridges supplementing manual inspections by engineers.