In May 2018, President Trump pledged to add $1.5 trillion to the country’s infrastructure spending. Since that announcement, the poor state of America’s infrastructure has been a hot topic for both pundits and the general public.
Now, a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers shows some progress on the task of getting America’s roads and bridges up to par. But does this effort go far enough?
2017 Report Card
The ASCE’s 2017 report card highlighted some good news. The group found that the number of bridges considered “structurally deficient” is decreasing. Over the course of ten years, the number of such bridges dropped from 12.1% to 9.1%.
However, the news isn’t entirely positive. The average age of America’s bridges keeps going up (43 years). And many of these bridges are approaching the end of their design life (50 years).
The society projects that it will cost $123 billion to rehabilitate the nation’s bridges alone. When the cost of repairing deficient roadways, ports, and waterworks is added in, the final price tag will be much higher.
The report comes at a time of heightened awareness of the tragedies that happen when bridges fail.
On August 9, the National Transportation Safety Board released its latest update on the ongoing investigation into the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University. Six people died in the disaster.
So far, the NTSB’s tests have revealed no “notable material issues.” And while the agency has so far remained silent on the probable cause of the structure’s catastrophic failure, its investigation is still ongoing.
Five days after the NTSB’s report, another high-profile bridge failure claimed more lives.
On August 14, a section of Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy collapsed during a heavy rainstorm, killing at least 43 people. Investigators are still determining the cause of the failure. But on August 19, new reports revealed that the engineer who designed the bridge warned four decades ago that the structure was at risk of “aggressive” corrosion from sea air and pollution from a nearby steel plant.
Waiting For Progress
The need for extensive improvements to America’s bridges and roads is an issue that boasts broad political support. But funding remains an issue.
President Trump made fixing the country’s infrastructure a key part of his campaign message. But after announcing a plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure upgrades, the president put his agenda on hold by announcing that the plan will now have to wait until after this year’s midterm elections.