An opportunity in a crisis

Posted by LDonia on 09/16/2013

Verrazano BridgeThe Associated Press released an alarming analysis today.

According to an analysis by Joan Lowy and Mike Baker, 65,605 American bridges are classified as “structurally deficient” in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory, 20,808 are considered “fracture critical.” Of the more than 600,000 structures listed, 7,795 were listed as both -- a combination that experts say indicates significant risk of collapse. That’s an awful lot of shaky bridges.

So what exactly makes a bridge structurally deficient? Lowy and Baker explain:

A bridge is deemed fracture critical when it doesn't have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. A bridge is structurally deficient when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component of the span has advanced deterioration or other problems that lead inspectors to deem its condition poor or worse.

Not only do these structurally deficient bridges put 29 million drivers at risk on a normal day—they create major national security risks, according to a 2012 report from yours truly at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM).

Federal, state and local governments are playing catch-up to secure these structures. As we repair our infrastructure with taxpayer dollars, these public works projects serve as a great opportunity to support American manufacturers.

However, some folks need to be convinced on that. Most recently New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) outsourced the steel work for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge reconstruction project.

America’s infrastructure crisis provides us with an opportunity to improve our roads and help American companies and workers. Let’s hope government and elected officials seize the opportunity.

Read more about the common sense economics of "Buy America" preferences.

Image by Flickr user by Joey, following Creative Commons guidelines.

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