The sorry state of America’s infrastructure received some well deserved screen time this week on 60 Minutes during a segment called, “Falling Apart: America’s Neglected Infrastructure.” Steve Kroft spoke with leaders including former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR), Amtrak’s president and CEO and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The consensus amongst everyone was that we can’t afford to continue to uphold the status quo on how we’re currently managing America’s infrastructure.
The I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 to the I-5 Skagit bridge collapse in 2013 in Washington state only begin to tell the story. According to 60 Minutes, one out of every nine bridges is structurally deficient. LaHood called them “dangerous.”
Pictured: The Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA was built in 1928, at a time when cars and trucks weighed less.
“Our infrastructure is on life support right now. That's what we're on,” said Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation.
In case you missed the segment, we recap for you the top five alarming statements about America’s infrastructure:
- “Our infrastructure is on life support right now. That's what we're on,” said Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation.
- “There are more than more than 4,000 bridges in metropolitan Pittsburgh and 20 percent of them are structurally deficient, including one of the city's main arteries,” said Andy Hermann,” a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- “Every day in Pittsburgh five million people travel across bridges that either need to be replaced or undergo major repairs,” said Andy Hermann, a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- “I've actually been trying now for 44 months to at least get a hearing on transportation finance on the Highway Trust Fund that is slowly going bankrupt, and we've not had a single one,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
- “If Congress wants to do something now, build this bridge. It's ready to be done. It's been ready for two years. Build it. It's tangible evidence that they can really get something done,” said Amtrak President and CEO about the Portal Bridge for trains in Hackensack, NJ.
The problems extend well beyond bridges however to all aspects of our infrastructure including airports, ports, water and wastewater management systems and more. The pervasive problems chronic underinvestment in America’s infrastructure have caused led BlueGreen Alliance to begin the Repair America campaign—an effort to modernize the infrastructure systems we rely on every day both to address climate change and to create good jobs. Through this campaign, we’re raising awareness about all of the challenges and opportunities tackling these issues present to us.
Americans can’t afford Congress’ weak resolve on fixing America’s infrastructure—there’s too much at risk. We must do more to protect ourselves and our communities from the disastrous impacts a crumbling infrastructure present to us.