The Denver Post published an Associated Press article titled “Thousands of bridges at risk of freak collapse.” Excerpts:
Thousands of bridges around the U.S. may be one freak accident or mistake away from collapse, even if the spans are deemed structurally sound.
The crossings are kept standing by engineering design, not supported with brute strength or redundant protections like their more modern counterparts. Bridge regulators call the more risky spans “fracture critical,” meaning that if a single, vital component of the bridge is compromised, it can crumple. …
There is wide recognition at all levels of government that the failure to address aging infrastructure will likely undermine safety and hinder economic growth. But there is no consensus on how to pay for improvements. The federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides construction aid to states, is forecast to go broke next year. The fund gets its revenue primarily from federal gas and diesel taxes. But revenues aren’t keeping up because people are driving less and there are more fuel-efficient cars on the road
This begs the question, why are fuel tax revenues used for transit projects like light rail, while drivers risk their lives when crossing poorly maintained bridges? As I have written, in Colorado “every dollar from state and local fuel and vehicle taxes, more than 19 cents supports “mass transit purposes,” according to 2010 federal highway statistics.
For a map of structurally deficient and fracture critical bridges in Colorado, see SaveOurBridges.com.