America’s Bridges Are Falling Down

Roads, bridges, wastewater pipes and dams are things we rely on every day but rarely think about. We probably should start. According to the American Society for Civil Engineers, America’s bridges are 42 years old, on average, our dams, 52 years old, and our country needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to modernize our public infrastructure. There’s no way our government is going to muster that kind of cash alone, but Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and a bipartisan group of his peers think they might be able to persuade private companies to pitch in…
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It’s certainly good news the federal government is supporting infrastructure improvement for the foreseeable future.  However, the problem, especially in the bridge infrastructure space, is bigger than the funding pool. Further, some state policy allows bridge funding to be diverted to alternative projects.  The federal government should continue to massage policy to insure the safety of its citizens. Recently, Transportation for America, made policy recommendations related to our nation’s bridges:

They suggested congress, “Upgrade bridges so they are safe and accessible for all who use them.”  Further, Transportation for America recommends Congress consider adopting a “complete streets” policy to ensure aging bridges are replaced and are designed to provide safe access for all who need them, whether they are in vehicles, using public transportation or traveling on foot. What’s the state of bridges in your state?  Check out the map and use the interstice link to drill down to your specific congressional district.  

Nonpoint Source:
Roads Highways & Bridges

Runoff controls are essential to preventing polluted runoff from roads, highways and bridges from reaching surface waters. Erosion during and after construction of roads, highways and bridges result in the deposition of sediment that can smother aquatic habitat and clog waterways.

Heavy metals, oils, other toxic substances and debris from construction traffic and spillage can be absorbed by soil at construction sites and carried with runoff water to lakes, rivers and bays.

Runoff control measures can be installed at the time of road, highway and bridge construction to reduce runoff pollution both during and after construction. Such measures can effectively reduce the entry of pollutants into surface waters and ground waters and protect their quality, fish habitats and public health. Pesticides and fertilizers used along roadway rights-of-way and adjoining land can pollute surface waters and ground water when they filter into the soil or are blown by wind from the area where they are applied.

Why should you care about
infrastructure funding?

According to an article published in the first quarter of 2017 by The Guardian, Andrew Herrmann, who served as the American Society of Civil Engineers president in 2012, indicated shortfalls in funding for infrastructure projects “translates into 34 hours of time lost to traffic delays each week.” Even more concerning according to Herrmann, “Road conditions factor into one third of traffic fatalities.” A CNBC news story from 2015 continues to describe the impact on commuters, “The cost of repairing broken axles, blown tires and battered shock absorbers cost the average urban driver $516 a year”.

When election season approaches these are pretty compelling reasons to consider who your local, state and federal representatives are. Where do they stand on road funding? What solutions will they offer to help curb the high cost of failing infrastructure? Your voice, your vote, they matter.