Are Bridges in the U.S. Making the Grade? State Rankings Reveal a Grim Reality

On August 1, 2007, the I-35 W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed injuring 144 people and killing 13. The official accident report cites the cause for collapse as poor quality control, insufficient design review procedures, and a lack of due diligence in weight monitoring of construction equipment parked on the bridge. Investigative reporter, Bill Dedman, reported the immediately available details of the accident noting the bridge had recently been rated Among the Nation’s Worst. In 2007, the I-35 bridge ranked barely better than 4% of the nation’s bridges. Taking the report and accident into great consideration, Minnesota DOT rebuilt the bridge with enhancements to safety and structural integrity. Using a design-build process, they were able to finish the construction three months ahead of schedule opening for public use on September 28, 2008 (read more about the award-winning construction on the Minnesota Department of Transportation website). Aerial image of the award-winning construction of the new I-35 bridge Using a rating system to rank our infrastructure and bridges isn’t old news, but there has definitely been increased media visibility since the collapse. In fact, Transportation for America recently published, The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges. This report substantiates the term “America’s Aging Infrastructure” with hard (and frightfully unpleasant) statistics about our nation’s roads, highways and bridges. How did our nation’s bridges rank in 2011? Not great. The worst offender was the state of Pennsylvania with 26.50% of its bridges ranking as deficient. The best was Nevada with a small 2.20% of deficient bridges. Want to see how the bridges near you rank? Click here to plug in your zip code and get an interactive map showing the bridges near you and current rankings. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you altered your daily driving routes. Additional Resources: If you’re interested in learning more about infrastructure improvement solutions, take a look at the ongoing CE News Webcast series Overcoming Our Infrastructure Deficits. The first installment, “The Infrastructure Lifecycle: Challenges and Solutions” is now available on-demand here. You can also register for the next Webcast, “Better Planning with Information Modeling,” which is on Wednesday, May 11th at 1:00 p.m. EDT.