Calling for long-term investment in America’s transportation system after a sizable crack in the Memphis I-40 bridge shut down the crossing over the Mississippi River might seem like crisis messaging. And, unfortunately, it is.
Congress and the Biden Administration know that updating the United States’ infrastructure must be a legislative priority. Our country has reached the point where the subject is now part of the national zeitgeist. Ed Mortimer, Executive Director of the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition, explains why in the latest ATM podcast. “Unfortunately this is just one example of infrastructure around our nation that is there to connect us and it’s not working,” Mortimer says. “It [the highway system] was built back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s reached its useful conclusion and so that’s why we in the ATM are urging Congress to step up and pass an infrastructure modernization.”
Numerous bridges in America are old, in need of repairs or replacement, and affect and cost the traveling public, commerce, the workforce and businesses. There are 171.5 million daily crossings on over 45,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges in poor condition, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). The organization has become known for reports on bridge data, and drawing attention to the state of the nation’s bridges, based on analyses of the National Bridge Inventory. Additionally, regional news cycles invariably include stories about infrastructure and bridge problems — and they touch on small crossings, to major freight routes.
Here’s a current and abbreviated look that ATM took: * President Biden visited Louisiana to advocate his vision for new infrastructure investment to the backstory of a movement to replace the I-10 bridge; * an I-78 east lane was closed in Pennsylvania because an expansion joint broke off where a toll bridge meets the roadway on the New Jersey side;* an update came that the West Seattle Bridge will be closed until at least 2022 because of a deteriorating main span;* the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held an event in Kentucky to focus on the beleaguered Brent Spence Bridge and frame its policy ask for adequate federal infrastructure dollars;* a bridge collapse in Sibley, Iowa, occurred due to a train derailment; and* for Sacramento County, Caltrans alerted motorists that the Isleton Bridge on State Route 160 will be temporarily closed for an extended period for work to keep it operational; and * in Illinois, the Stotlar Road Bridge crossing I-57 will soon be closed so crews can work on beam repairs, joint replacements, patching, and a new concrete overlay.