The Minnesota Daily, Stacy Bengs/AP
Vehicles scattered along the broken remains of Minnesota’s Interstate 35W bridge after
it collapsed on August 1, 2007 (AP)

America’s Bridges Need Improvement, Repair

August 01, 2008 10:32 AM
by Anne Szustek
The one-year anniversary of the Minneapolis highway bridge collapse, along with a new national safety report, highlight the need for billions worth of infrastructure upgrades.

30-Second Summary

On June 28, Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell hosted a press conference in north Philadelphia near the site of the March collapse of a pillar supporting an overpass of Interstate Highway 95, forcing three days of detours and emergency repairs.

“Bridging the Gap,” a report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials unveiled at the conference, revealed that 152,000 out of the country’s 600,000 bridges—about one in four—are structurally deficient. It will take an estimated $140 billion to repair the bridges to safety standards.

Rendell said at the conference, “We need federal intervention, and federal intervention at a big level.”

Most bridges in the United States are meant to last 50 years without needing any improvements. Most highway overpasses, constructed as part of the interstate highway system, are nearing the half-century mark.

Age notwithstanding, studies suggest structural deficiencies are to blame for an event that brought the issue into national attention.

On August 1, 2007, just north of downtown Minneapolis, a 40-year-old overpass of I-35W collapsed during evening rush hour over the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.  After the dust cleared, the nation focused greater attention on the state of bridges, and finger pointing ensued.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are to release findings on the collapse of the overpass over the coming “days and weeks.” The federal board argues that the bridge gave way because the steel gussets could not handle the bridge’s weight. But the report could shed blame on the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

See KYW coverage

Headline Links: Safety of U.S. bridges in question

Video: Footage of the I-35W bridge collapse

Background: The Minneapolis bridge collapse

Related Topic: ‘Army Corps Admits to Knowing Little of Levees’

Reference: Government infrastructure spending


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines