Official Minnesota Department of Transportation investigation photo of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, taken Aug. 3, 2007. ASCE website.
Fed up with governments ignoring the fact that bridges across America are in a state of disrepair and susceptible to failure, a U.S. author and construction lawyer has launched an interactive website to let the public easily locate which are the dangerous bridges in their area.
Barry LePatner launched the www.SaveOurBridges.com site last August and recently revamped it making it searchable by city/state or zip code. He says he hopes it will not only educate the public but “help bring attention to an issue that is continuously ignored by the nation’s policymakers.”
LePatner says there are 7,980 bridges in the U.S. that were designed as fracture-critical, meaning that their design lacks support to hold up if a single component fails. This was the problem with the 1-35W Bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in August 2007, he says.
“I, along with many other infrastructure leaders in the U.S. thought the 1-35W collapse would be a wake-up call to the nation’s leaders. But it quickly became clear that the policymakers and government agencies in charge of infrastructure were content to sweep it under the rug and move on.”
He says there is plenty of money for infrastructure investment, but it has often been diverted to ribbon-cutting ceremonies for politicians rather than for needed repairs.
LePatner is the co-author of Structural and Foundation Failures (McGraw-Hill, 1982) and his most recent book, Too Big to Fall.
Post script: On February 12 in his State of the union address, President Obama proposed a “Fix-It-First” program that would address “the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.”
To see the LePatner’s site, click here.