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Baltimore Collapse Raises Concerns About American Bridge Safety

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The recent collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge has brought attention to the condition of important bridges around the country. The fall, which was caused by a cargo ship collision, emphasizes how urgently infrastructure needs to be improved and maintained.

Thousands of bridges in the country support a sizable amount of daily traffic, however they are in bad shape. According to federal data, 42,400 bridges in the United States are presently categorized as being in bad condition, with issues ranging from support systems to structural integrity.

The Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge in Tacoma, Washington, has been closed indefinitely because of government safety concerns about an old portion of the almost century-old structure. Many commuters and local businesses have been negatively impacted by this closure, which has led to urgent requests for money for inspection and repairs.

The state of affairs is comparable to problems across the country, when deteriorating infrastructure buckles under the weight of regular use. Many bridges need to be replaced or repaired, and the expenses can go into the billions.

As part of a new infrastructure law passed in 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration set aside $40 billion for bridge improvements in response to these urgent concerns. Even though thousands of projects have been started thanks to this money, it still only makes up a small portion of the overall amount needed to remedy the country’s bridge inadequacies.

Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, stressed the significance of quickly fixing major bridges in order to reduce the risk of collapse or service interruptions. Inspections are essential for spotting potential safety risks, but financing and carrying out required fixes are still difficult to come by.

Although rare, bridge collapses can have disastrous effects; examples of this include the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis. These incidents highlight how critical it is to give infrastructure upkeep and investment top priority in order to protect both public safety and the stability of the economy.

Comprehensive solutions are becoming more and more necessary as towns struggle with the financial and practical difficulties associated with maintaining their bridges. Bridge closures and inadequacies from Rhode Island to Iowa highlight the national urgency to prioritize safety and renovation of infrastructure.

As part of The Associated Press/article for America Statehouse News Initiative, a nonprofit national service initiative aimed at addressing undercovered problems, Associated Press data reporter Kavish Harjai contributed to this article.

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