T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

In wake of Ohio River bridge closure, NBC Nightly News examines the sorry state of U.S. bridges

Over the weekend, NBC Nightly News ran a sharp piece on our country’s structurally deficient bridges, focusing on the data in the T4 America bridge report.

At least one person somewhere in the U.S. is driving over a structurally deficient bridge every minute, according to T4 America director James Corless in a report on the woeful condition of our nation’s bridges on NBC Nightly News Sunday evening.

Brought into the national spotlight because of the recent closure of a highly-trafficked interstate bridge over the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky and the President’s scheduled appearance at a Cincinnati-area bridge this Thursday, more national media outlets (and Americans and their leaders in Congress, one would hope) are paying attention to the real-life impacts of underinvestment in infrastructure.

Watch the video here on NBC

Though years of underfunding, neglect and a failure to prioritize repair of the existing system have led us to this critical juncture, that doesn’t mean that we can’t choose a better future for our country. As the NBC piece (and the counter at the top of our website) shows us, Congress has failed for two years to write and pass a comprehensive transportation bill that could get us moving in the right direction.

But just putting more money into transportation won’t automatically solve the problem of deficient bridges. We need to make sure that money is spent wisely, which means making sure that money gets targeted first and foremost to taking care of what we’ve already built. Some instructive comments from our statement last week on the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville:

“States also need to be held accountable to address the growing backlog of structurally deficient bridges with their federal transportation dollars,” Corless added. “States can currently spend half of their money dedicated to bridge repair on almost any other type of project. Today the federal program lacks a system to ensure that federal money goes to repair the worst bridges or address the backlog before new highways are built…”

“One logical step forward would be Senator Ben Cardin’s Preservation and Renewal of Federal-Aid Highways Act, which would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish “state of good repair” standards for highways that receive federal funding, ensuring that federal dollars are targeted toward the most pressing needs first and holding states accountable for improving the condition of their systems.”

In case you’re new to T4 America, don’t miss our report on the country’s deficient bridges: The Fix We’re In For. State-by-state statistics are available, as well as a tool that allows you to find all of the deficient bridges in your area.