Poorly Maintained Bridges Endanger Truckers

August 28, 2014

Poorly Maintained Bridges

One in 10 of America's bridges is an accident waiting to happen. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, more than 63,000 interstate highway bridges urgently need critical structural repairs to protect the safety of the millions of drivers that travel across them every day. For professional truck drivers, who spend more time crossing these unsafe bridges than most drivers, the risk of being caught on a collapsing bridge is both frightening and potentially fatal.

Aging Transportation Infrastructure

The aging of America's massive transportation infrastructure is no secret. Since President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Air Highway Act in 1956, more than 46,000 miles of interstate highway have been constructed across America. Years of use have taken their toll; and in recent years the government has struggled to maintain all that asphalt.

According to Reuters, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. bridges a mediocre C+ grade and estimates that clearing the current repair backlog will cost $20.5 billion a year, or nearly twice the current annual investment.

Congress Fiddles While Bridges Fall

State transportation departments are responsible for maintaining the bulk of the interstate highway system and its bridges, but federal funding helps pick up a big chunk of the tab. Federal financing for highway and bridge projects comes from the Highway Trust Fund which is funded by motor fuel, heavy truck and truck tire taxes.

But tax revenue is not enough to cover highway and bridge improvement projects, resulting in a shortfall. Despite pleas from the Obama administration, trucking industry and motorist safety organizations, Congress barely managed to pass another "place-holder" bill on its way out the door for summer recess. Instead of the $302 billion, four-year bill the White House asked for, Congress approved just $10.9 billion for 9 months. Will it be too little too late? Time will tell, and truckers may pay the price.

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