Bridge To The Future

Source: American City and County, Vol. 123 no. 9, September 2008

New construction techniques and materials shore up the nation’s broken infrastructure.
Representatives from the Washington-based National Association of County Engineers (NACE) testified before Congress in September 2007 that 25 percent of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The cost to repair or modernize the country’s bridges is $140 billion, assuming all bridges are fixed immediately, according to a July 2008 report issued by the Washington-based American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The report cites several factors that affect the cost to fix the bridge system, including age, deterioration, congestion, and soaring construction costs — including the price of steel, asphalt, concrete and earthwork, which, over the past four years, has risen 50 percent and is especially aggravated by the high cost of oil. In addition, as a result of the 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, engineers are increasingly concerned with the need for preventive maintenance. Increasing traffic and loads are pushing officials to consider costly new bridges that force difficult resource allocation decisions.

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