For Immediate Release
Contact: Stephen Davis
or David Goldberg
Transportation for America issued the following statement following last night’s collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mount Vernon, Washington.
“The shocking collapse of a busy Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State highlights the issue of our country’s aging bridges and what we’re doing to address them. Thankfully, no one was killed or even seriously injured in this collapse, which could not be said about the last high profile bridge collapse in Minnesota.
Nationwide, more than one in ten bridges is rated structurally deficient, in need of close monitoring, urgent repairs, rehabilitation or replacement. We take more than 260 million trips over deficient bridges each day. In just our 102 largest metro areas alone, there are more deficient bridges than there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country, 18,000 versus 14,000.
While this particular bridge was not considered structurally deficient at the time of its collapse, it is one of thousands that are well past their intended lifespan and carrying far more traffic than intended at the time they were built. The typical bridge is 43 years old with a design life of 50 years.
Considering that progress on repairing deficient bridges has slowed in the last ten years, Congress took a major gamble in last summer’s new transportation law (MAP-21) by eliminating dedicated funding for repairing highway bridges. Now bridge repair is forced to compete with other transportation needs for funding.
At the same time, our chief source of repair dollars – the federal gas tax – is declining as Americans drive more fuel-efficient cars and fewer miles. Congress urgently needs to address both our funding priorities and how we will pay for them in the face of an aging system and growing population, before the next preventable bridge collapse strands commuters, cripples a local economy and claims lives.”